Pyrotechnic panic: Fireworks blamed for 23 dogs ending up in shelter; tips

ST. GEORGE – In the wake of 4th of July fireworks that terrified many a house pet earlier this month, about 23 dogs found themselves in the St. George Animal Shelter. With another round of fireworks planned for Pioneer Day, shelter officials expect another influx of dogs that have run away from the perceived threat of firework noises and gotten lost doing so.

St. George Police Sgt. Ivor Fuller said pet owners need to remember the stress that fireworks can put on their pets.

The biggest thing is understanding it has an effect on (your pets); it stresses them out,” Fuller said.

The ear-splitting whistle of fireworks launching, followed by the accompanying booms, is terrifying for most cats and dogs, though the effect on dogs is generally much more pronounced.

Fuller said cats tend to seek shelter and hide when fireworks go off. Dogs, on the other hand, tend to do whatever they can to get away from the sudden booming noises.

If kept outside and not secured, dogs may escape from their yards in an effort to retreat from the fireworks noise. Add a repeated volley of booms as multiple fireworks go off, and the end result can be a dog that’s run a few miles from home before it eventually stops running. A dog in St. George could end up in Washington or Santa Clara. These pets can get lost and, ultimately, end up in the custody of area animal shelters.

Some of these lost animals will eventually be reunited with their families, but others will sadly be injured or killed in traffic or remain unclaimed in shelters,” Best Friends Animal Society said in a recent news release related to the 4th of July.

Of the 23 dogs taken in by the St. George Animal Shelter since July 4, less than half have been claimed, Fuller said.

“It’s concerning,” he said.

Some of the animals may originally be from outside St. George, and their owners may not be checking surrounding animal shelters, he said.

Having so many dogs still at the shelter – with an influx of others expected to be picked up following Pioneer Day – Fuller said the shelter will be getting overcrowded.

Tips for pet owners

As a way to help pets cope with the oncoming onslaught of fireworks, Best Friends Animal Society released a list of tips and precautions to help pets stay home, safe and comfortable over Pioneer Day:

  • Bring all pets indoors whenever neighborhood fireworks displays are likely. Secure dogs in a quiet room, close curtains and play music or turn on the television to drown out the frightening sounds.
  • Keep pets away from lit fireworks at all times, including in your own yard or street, as some will chase after the bright moving objects and are at risk to be burned or blinded in the process.
  • Ensure that pets are microchipped and wear current identification tags, just in case they accidentally get loose.
  • If your pet does go missing over the holiday, check immediately and often with local animal shelters. Go to the shelter in person to identify your pet, rather than calling or emailing, as staff may not be able to respond in a timely enough fashion.

Half-off Friday

In an effort to help make space for new arrivals and find current shelter dwellers new homes, Fuller said the St. George Animal Shelter is hosting what he called “Half-off Friday” this weekend. It is an event held on the fourth Friday of each month, during which all adoption fees are discounted by 50 percent.


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  • IQ92 July 24, 2014 at 12:45 am

    Thanks for this article. Because of the trauma to our dogs, we leave St. George on the 4th and 24th. The most helful thing the city could do is to publish the dates of approved explosions throughout the rest of the year (e.g. marathons, conventions, etc.)

  • Ginger July 25, 2014 at 6:43 pm

    Not only dogs…how about the badger we found in our yard this morning!

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