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Experts offer tips on preparing pets for fireworks

Updated July 4, 2021 - 5:31 pm

Fireworks are often the highlight of many Fourth of July celebrations. But not all residents, and especially pets, enjoy the bombs bursting in air.

Thousands of animals are reported missing each year around Independence Day, with July 5 widely known as the busiest day of the year for animal shelters. Last year, the Animal Foundation took in 412 stray pets between July 1 and July 10.

Only 23 percent were later returned to their owners, foundation spokeswoman Kelsey Pizzi said.

“We placed a lot of animals in the shelter into foster homes to help clear up space because we know what’s going to happen,” Pizzi said. “We know that we’re going to get hundreds of animals.”

Preparations for pets

Officials with the Las Vegas Valley Humane Society said now is the time for pet owners to start preparing for fireworks.

Richard Villa, president of the humane society, encouraged owners to speak with their veterinarian and find out if any medication may be suitable for their pet. Trazodone, an antidepressant, is often recommended to relax dogs amid the loud booms of fireworks.

Anxiety jackets called “Thundershirts” are also an option, which apply gentle pressure to an animal — similar to swaddling an infant — and can help dogs feel more calm.

“If you don’t have a Thundershirt, use a T-shirt and wrap it around them,” Villa recommended.

Additional tips include:

■ Keeping your pet indoors during fireworks displays.

■ Providing easy access to food and water.

■ Locking doors.

■ Placing pets in a comfortable environment.

Villa also suggested being cautious when opening doors around pets while fireworks are going off.

“You have to be very conscious, because they’re so scared they don’t know which way to run,” Villa said.

Villa said he places his dogs in a cool area, such as a bathroom tub, then turns on a fan and plays classical music to help block out the sound of fireworks. Dog owners can also try the Relax My Dog YouTube channel, which has close to 700,000 subscribers.

If all else fails, Villa and Pizzi urged that owners ensure their pets are microchipped with the appropriate contact information.

If a pet gets lost

Any lost pets picked up in Las Vegas, North Las Vegas or Clark County are brought to the Animal Foundation. Pets brought there will be held for 72 hours before being evaluated and put up for adoption.

The animal shelter will attempt to reach owners multiple times but often have trouble with out-of-date contact information.

“We push for people to not only have microchips and collars, but make sure those microchips have the correct contact information,” Pizzi said.

Lost pets recovered in Henderson will be taken to the Henderson Animal Care and Control facility and held for three days as well. The facility is closed on Monday so owners are recommended to leave a voicemail or arrive Tuesday. Reclaim fees have not been waived at the Henderson shelter.

The Animal Foundation is waving reclamation fees for lost animals between Thursday and July 10. The waived fees cover the cost of impound, boarding, rabies vaccination, spay and neutering and microchipping. Fees will not be waived for animals that were confiscated by Animal Control.

Owners must bring veterinary records, proof of rabies vaccine and a photo of their animal to reclaim pets.

Prior to going to the shelter, Pizzi recommended searching your neighborhood and talking with nearby residents. She cited a recent study that found 70 percent of stray dogs are recovered less than a mile from their home and 42 percent are found less than 400 feet away.

“I can attest to that,” Pizzi said. “My dog escaped last year, and she was only two doors down, so it wouldn’t have made any sense for that person to drive her 20 minutes to the Animal Foundation.”

Pet owners can also use Petco Love Lost, a searchable national database that uses facial recognition to help find lost dogs and cats.

The Animal Foundation’s lost and and found department is open daily from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at 655 North Mojave Road. Call 702-955-5932 or email lostandfound@animalfoundation.com.

Contact Mathew Miranda at mmiranda@reviewjournal.com. Follow mathewjmiranda on Twitter.

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