By LAUREN CAPPUCCIO
Public Opinion, Chambersburg
FRANKLIN COUNTY - The fireworks and loud celebration that comes with Independence Day may be fun for us, but can be a frightening and dangerous time for our four-legged friends.
Around this time of year, many dogs and cats are scared by the loud noises that come with fireworks and some are even injured or run away. The American Humane Association reports that July 5 is the busiest day of the year for animal shelters.
Indiana Proactive Animal Welfare Inc. stated in 2005 that animal shelters the day after Fourth of July are "inundated with pets that panicked at the noise of firecrackers and fled into the night, winding up lost, injured or killed."
Sue McMurtray, of Chambersburg, knows about this all too well. Her 3-year-old standard poodle Kizhi slipped her collar two years ago during a July 4th fireworks celebration while out on a walk. After spending most of the night and early morning looking, her ex-husband received a call from a couple off of Ragged Edge Road who said they had her dog.
"I didn't know if I'd ever see her again," McMurtray said.
She said social media also helped her when she posted news of Kizhi's disappearance on the Norlo Park Facebook page and a friend comment to a co-worker who happened to be a neighbor of the woman who found and held on to Kizhi for her.
"When we talked to the lady, she said that Kizhi had run 2 miles without stopping, ran up to their house where there was a group of their neighbors and was shaking, short of breath and panting."
Christine Lagana, office manager for the Antietam Humane Society in Waynesboro, said some people want to include their pets in July 4 events, but strongly recommends against it.
"It's more stress than it's worth," she said. "Leave your animals at home."
Dogs and cats are not used to the loud noises, she said. She said that unfortunately, they've also seen accidents where dogs have gotten hold of lit bottle rockets and been injured.
Tips from The Humane Society for giving pets a safe and happy July Fourth
Independence Day is all about celebration: picnics, parties, parades and, of course, fireworks. While a lot of people enjoy this noisy summer holiday, it can be overwhelming for your pets, and possibly hazardous. Pets can become disoriented and frightened by the noise and commotion associated with parades and fireworks displays. In fact, so many pets are frightened and try to escape the sights and sounds of the Fourth of July that animal shelters around the nation report a dramatic increase in lost pets during the holiday.
Keep your pet away from fireworks
Our pets are more sensitive to loud noises, flashing lights and strong smells than we are, so Fourth of July festivities may be terrifying. On that holiday - and a few days before and after, when people are likely to set off fireworks - it's best to leave your pets safely indoors, preferably with a radio or TV turned on to dampen jarring noises. Even pets who are usually kept outdoors should be brought inside. And if you are going to an Independence Day event and cannot leave your pet unattended at home, keep them leashed and under direct control at all times.
Ask your veterinarian for help if your pet is scared by fireworks
There are medications and techniques that might help alleviate your pet's fear and anxiety. Until your vet is available, try creating a safe place to help your pet cope with loud noises.
Make sure your pet is wearing identification
All pets, even those kept indoors full-time, should always wear collars with identification tags. Indoor-only pets can become so frightened during fireworks displays that they take desperate measures to escape the noise, including breaking through window or door screens.