Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Keeping Your Pets Safe over Holiday; July 4 Activities Are Fun for People but They Can Be Stressful to Pets

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Keeping Your Pets Safe over Holiday; July 4 Activities Are Fun for People but They Can Be Stressful to Pets

Article excerpt

Byline: DEIRDRE CONNER

When Saturday night's barbecue chatter is interrupted by fireworks' booms and crackles, it probably means you're having a good Fourth of July.

But for your pets, the night could be a frightening - and dangerous.

The holiday almost always results in one of the busiest times of the year for animal control departments. Scared by fireworks and crowds, cats and dogs tend to run away or become injured trying to do so. And pets are also at risk from the heat, car or fireworks injuries, and alcoholic beverages.

Extra vigilance from pet owners is especially needed this year, said Scott Trebatoski, chief of Jacksonville Animal Care and Control. The day after Independence Day, July 5, is typically busy as animals are picked up or people come to the shelter to look for lost pets.

But this year it falls on a Sunday, meaning the shelters will be closed and animal control officers are on duty only for emergencies.

"We might not be able to get to these animals," Trebatoski said. "This year, out of all years, people should take extra care because the safety net isn't there."

Ralph Roland, the adoption, rescue and volunteer coordinator for Clay County Animal Care and Control, also expects a busy night for the officer on call.

That comes as no surprise to Sarah Butsch, who won't forget the July 4 evening when she was driving back from Jacksonville Beach with friends.

They spotted a black Labrador retriever in the road and took it home.

"It was a great dog, well trained and perfect, so we knew it must have belonged to someone," Butsch said.

She ultimately reunited it with the owners, who said the animal had run through an electric fence after being scared by fireworks at the beach, something it had never done before.

That's not unusual, Trebatoski said. When animals are scared, adrenaline often sends them jumping over fences they couldn't scale before, dashing through doors faster, or even knocking through doors or fences that would usually keep them secure. …

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