Friday, June 30, 2017

July 4th Safety

My Patriotic Pup
Tomorrow is July 1st. I don't know about you, but we've had makeshift fireworks stores pop up all over town. You can find a tent with sparklers and Roman candles in every major parking lot -- and people are lining up to buy them too. We're already hearing bangs and booms. I expect it to be loud and crazy all week. Before you run out and buy more charcoal and watermelon for your block party, let's talk about your pets.

I’m going to put on my Animal Control hat for a moment. July 5th is the busiest day of the year for me. Many pets run away because they're afraid of the fireworks. Others wander off unnoticed during family get-togethers. My kennel is full of these guys the first two weeks of July every year. Sadly, less than 25% of the dogs and cats picked up by my agency are returned to their homes. Too many animals are transferred to the county shelter simply because an owner can’t be found. (The county shelter's return-to-owner numbers are just as dismal.) Here are a few things you can do to prevent your pet from becoming a statistic:
  • Crate and/or lock your pets in a back room during busy parties and 4th of July celebrations. If you have an overly-anxious dog, talk to your vet about sedatives and thunder shirts.
  • Keep collars and ID tags on your dogs and cats at all times. Overwhelmingly, people tell me that their pet wasn’t wearing a collar because it “never leaves the yard” or “just had a bath.” My response: 1) Animals couldn’t care less about property lines and 2) if they’re dry enough to go outside, they’re dry enough to wear a collar.
  • Microchip your pet. This is a good backup should the collar come off. Most vets and ACOs have microchip scanners and are able to trace chips back to the registered owners. Please note: microchips are an implanted form of ID, not GPS; an animal’s location cannot be tracked through their microchips. You’d be surprised how many people don’t know this.
  • Keep your contact information current. Is the tag on your pet readable? Are the phone numbers correct? Has your contact information changed since your pet was chipped? The best time to replace tags and update microchips is now, before an emergency. Don't know how to check your chip? Go here for more info.
  • Contact Animal Control as soon as you notice that your pet is missing. Animals are only held for a short period of time. Don’t wait a week “hoping he’ll come home on his own.” Otherwise, when you call it may be too late.
  • Check for your missing pet. If you don’t see him, post an ad under the “Lost & Found” (NOT “Pets”) section. Make sure to include photos and use the map feature. BTW, my office returns pets through craigslist all the time.
  • Post a lost pet notice on Facebook and ask everybody to cross-post. We also have FB pages dedicated to lost and found pets in the Jacksonville/Northeast Florida area (here and here). You may have something similar where you are.
  • Have recent pictures of your pet. You may need them to create signs and lost pet ads. Puppy pictures of your 10-year old dog aren’t very helpful, especially when dealing with mixed breeds.
  • Have a recent picture of you with your pet. People lie about pet ownership all the time -- more often if the dog is cute, friendly and/or purebred. Good Samaritans (and shelters!) have become skeptical, especially if the dog doesn't have any identification.
  • Visit the Missing Pet Partnership for more recovery tips based on your animal's personality.
I post this message every year in hopes that someone will get it.

Please, don't be a July 5th statistic!

Hopefully your pet will never get out. However, should it happen, a little preparation now can save a lot of heartache later. -- K

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