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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

How to Keep Your Pets Calm During Fireworks, And How to Find Them if They Jailbreak

Posted by on Tue, Jul 3, 2012 at 11:31 AM

Wyatt, serenely sunning himself post shit.
  • Wyatt, sunning himself post shit.
Each year on the Fourth of July, my dog Wyatt shits himself empty as soon as the fireworks begin. Coincidentally, July 4th is his birthday. I used to take a token photo of him shitting himself in a Dora the Explorer party hat, his eyes rolled back in his adorable pinhead with fear, the windows behind him alight with patriotism. But after a couple years I had to admit that neither of our hearts were really in it, so I donated the Dora hat to some shit-covered child I know and bumped Wyatt's birthday to Thanksgiving.

The fact remains: Wyatt and most house pets—cats, dogs, miniature ponies—have a bone-shaking fear of fireworks. Not only are they prone to howling, hiding, and shitting all over the damn place, they're also liable to bolt like the wind if given half the chance.

So! Here's a handy list of tips on how to keep your pets as safe and calm as possible on the 4th, courtesy of Regional Animal Services of King County (RASK), along with info on who to contact should they bolt.

· Leave your dog/ferret/miniature show pony at home if you head out to a public fireworks display.

· Keep your pets crated or shut in a quiet, dark room of your house during the fireworks. Try relaxing them with some quiet Vivaldi or 15 minutes of manual stimulation (if he's into that kind of thing). Make sure they have plenty of water handy.

· If you live in an apartment/condo and are not comfortable with your pet shitting all over the damn place, bring them to my place do not let them off leash for any reason. It doesn't matter if you think the fireworks are over and your mutt likes his privacy while he squats; some asshole will still be lighting off rogues at 3:00am. Don't risk it.

· Also, if your dog/cat is normally an outside dog/cat/lizard/show pony, today is the day to make an exception. Don't leave your motherfucking pet outside where they are liable to freak out, dig a hole, and get pancaked by a car. Put them in the garage or basement at the very least.

· Make sure your pet is wearing identification, like a collar with tags or microchip or something.

· If right now you're thinking, "My pet doesn't mind fireworks, none of this shit applies to me," don't be an asshole. Some pets become sensitive to loud noises later in life. It takes next-to-no effort to make your pet comfortable and secure for a few hours.

· If your pet becomes lost, check in person at all the local shelters, repeatedly, over the next few days. (NOW DON'T YOU WISH YOU'D MICROCHIPPED YOUR PET???) Conversely, if you find an untagged pet wandering the street, don't keep it because you think it's "cute." That's someone else's pet, asshole, and if you're even considering keeping it, that just proves you're not mature or responsible enough to be a good pet owner. Take it to a shelter.

Now: Since July 4th is the most popular day of the year for animal jailbreaks, RASKC has joined with Missing Pet Partnership to train volunteers for the “Mission Reunite: Help and Hope for Lost Pets” program. Immediately after the holiday, volunteers will be deployed at the Pet Adoption Center in Kent to help owners looking for their stray pet. In addition, RASKC will keep its “Lost Pet Hotline” up to date.

People who are looking for a missing pet can call 206-296-PETS (7387) and press “3” for a list of strays currently at the center.

UPDATE: The lovely Katherine Schubert-Knapp points out that the number above is for animals found within King County but outside of Seattle. Here's a link to Seattle's city-run animal shelter and here's another link that highlights how to get emergency care for an injured animal.


Comments (39) RSS

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Matt from Denver 1
And remember - if Lisa Dank finds your dog first, you're gonna have a fight on your hands.
Posted by Matt from Denver on July 3, 2012 at 11:35 AM · Report this
Collin 2
Can we please use any phrase other than "manual stimulation"?
Posted by Collin on July 3, 2012 at 11:37 AM · Report this
bleedingheartlibertarian 3
I will once again make my annual (and pointless) plea to my neighbors on Capitol Hill to maybe wait until later(I dunno...maybe 8pm? It's still light out!) in the evening before setting off your own fireworks, just so the dogs can get walked and fed in some peace before the inevitable terror begins.

I dog, my problem. I accept this. But you could be slightly less of a dick. Really, you could.

Posted by bleedingheartlibertarian on July 3, 2012 at 11:38 AM · Report this
Also, drugs.

I have an otherwise lovely rescue dog that has done hundreds of dollars of damage during fireworks outbreaks. She gets a little pill from the Vet.
Posted by Shoulda Probably Foreseen It on July 3, 2012 at 11:40 AM · Report this
Zebes 5
My dog's birthday is on St. Patrick's day. He isn't terrified of drunks or leprechauns so it works out pretty well for everybody.
Posted by Zebes on July 3, 2012 at 11:44 AM · Report this
Yes, please look into pet medication if your pet responds like this.
Posted by Another Reasonable Person on July 3, 2012 at 11:45 AM · Report this
amyl 7
If you would like to try to medicate your pet CALL YOUR VET RIGHT NOW. They won't be open tomorrow, take it from personal experience.
Posted by amyl on July 3, 2012 at 11:50 AM · Report this
Fifty-Two-Eighty 8
About half a tablet of Benadryl usually sends dogs into la-la land. I've never had it fail yet.
Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty on July 3, 2012 at 11:51 AM · Report this
Theodore Gorath 9
Can't wait for the claims that Cienna is guilty of animal cruelty for not getting her dog a luxury hotel room with soundproof walls and windows every July 4th.

Posted by Theodore Gorath on July 3, 2012 at 11:51 AM · Report this
wilbur@work 10
8, not a bad idea. Thanks.
Posted by wilbur@work on July 3, 2012 at 11:58 AM · Report this
Jessica 11
I am going to try Benadryl tonight. The 30th and 1st we attempted to sedate her with a combination of Thundershirt and Happy Traveler pills, last night we picked up 30 doggie Xanax from the vets and used those, and tonight will be an attempt with Benadryl. After the dipshits light the first M-80 of the evening, my shadow is a 65lb panicky greyhound until approximately 1am. Two Xanax last night didn't do shit for her when they were going off, so I'm hoping the Benadryl works tonight. The last Fourth was hell for everyone, I'm not holding out a lot of hope for this one.
Posted by Jessica on July 3, 2012 at 12:05 PM · Report this
Oh yeah. Benadryl is key. Two nights ago we had fireworks going off in our 'hood, gave dog a melt-on-your-tongue Benadryl and, although he was still afraid (stayed glued to my side), he rocked a bit, glassy-eyed, and didn't shake.
Posted by Missliss on July 3, 2012 at 12:06 PM · Report this
I dread this whole month - that's the fireworks open window here. I had a Samoyed that went through a double-paned window and an 8 foot chain link fence in response to an asshole lighting a series of illegal M-80s in our front yard on Mormon day (aka pioneer day). He was remorseless, even when confronted with a blood soaked dog as we tried to get her into the car to find an emergency vet. But that's Utards for you - guns and fireworks are more important than common sense and human decency. Even now when the whole state is burning, they refuse to ban target shooting and fireworks.
Posted by StuckInUtah on July 3, 2012 at 12:07 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 14
It'll be interesting to see what the fourth is like here this year. All but two fireworks shows have been cancelled, and I haven't heard a single firecracker, fountain, or anything else that screams or goes boom. Usually they get going good while the calendar is still flipped to June.
Posted by Matt from Denver on July 3, 2012 at 12:16 PM · Report this
This makes me sad. A couple of Fourths of July ago, I was driving home up Roosevelt, late, and I saw a dog that had been hit and killed running across the road. Even if they're shaking and pooping and the whole nine yards, KEEP THEM INSIDE by any means necessary.

I have a new rescue dog (post New Year's), so I haven't been through a Fourth with her. So far she's been barking like crazy whenever she hears a firework go off, but she's not scared/trembly. We'll see how the actual Fourth goes.
Posted by MLM on July 3, 2012 at 12:20 PM · Report this
spamky 16
We got our "gun shy" dog a thundershirt ( this year and haven't had a chance to test it on him yet. It keeps him pretty calm when he's wearing it, doesn't even want to play until we take it off and he takes off running around the house. I'm optimistic for him.
Posted by spamky on July 3, 2012 at 12:21 PM · Report this
keshmeshi 17
Some assholes in my neighborhood have been setting off fireworks starting a month ago. Tomorrow is going to be just grand.


That's something that I just don't understand. What is the point of setting off fireworks in the middle of the day?
Posted by keshmeshi on July 3, 2012 at 12:24 PM · Report this
Cato the Younger Younger 18
I just got a cat a couple of months ago. Should be fun to see how she reacts Wednesday night. Or maybe not so fun....need to clip her claws down before I forget.
Posted by Cato the Younger Younger on July 3, 2012 at 12:27 PM · Report this
rob! 19
Re: Benadryl to sedate pets, it's pretty darn safe for dogs and cats, but the dose is based on body weight—should be 1 mg per pound of body weight for those animals. My pink Benadryl (generic: diphenhydramine) mini-tabs are 25 mg each, so even half a tab would be too much for a Chihuahua or other small dog.

The other thing is, don't try to make do with some combo or liquid medicine you might have lying around. Ibuprofen and acetominophen (Tylenol) can be very dangerous, even deadly for dogs and cats; aspirin is very dangerous for cats. So don't give any Benadryl medication that also contains one of these. An old bottle of Benadryl syrup might also contain alcohol.
Posted by rob! on July 3, 2012 at 12:34 PM · Report this
Fifty-Two-Eighty 20
Matt, I haven't heard one yet either. But I'm not expecting these shitheads to have much in the way of common sense, so we shall see.
Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty on July 3, 2012 at 12:34 PM · Report this
prompt 21
I'd advise against ever taking your ferret anywhere. Those fuckers squeeze out of any harness and also the worst sense of direction out of any pet I've ever known. They'd get lost in your yard.
Posted by prompt on July 3, 2012 at 12:46 PM · Report this
Geni 22
I have basically the same reaction to drunks handling explosives as my cats do, plus a paralyzing fear of housefires. I'm terrified of loud noises. So the cats and I spend the 4th shut in the bedroom with the air cleaner and air conditioner on high, the windows closed, and my iPod playing.

Tomorrow's gonna be a bitch. They've been setting off massive quantities of explosives for the last week and a half, and tomorrow is a WORK NIGHT...I have to be in early on Thursday. But none of those assholes care about that, they just want to blow shit up and set things afire. If they'd all go somewhere other than a residential neighborhood to do it, I wouldn't give a shit.
Posted by Geni on July 3, 2012 at 1:07 PM · Report this
Max Solomon 23
we were camping in petrolia in the aughts, and the rednecks in the campsite next door set off a bunch of firecrackers. in a flash, my dog was a mile down the beach headed into the wilderness.
Posted by Max Solomon on July 3, 2012 at 1:31 PM · Report this
What a bunch of whiners! Fireworks at all hours are a small price to pay for the privilege of living in a Mudedeian Urban Utopia. Us saps in the suburbs have to put up with peace, quiet, the wind gently blowing through the wooded backyard....

In all seriousness, this might be a good night to pack your dog and go camp somewhere far from the city. Have fun!
Posted by catsnbanjos on July 3, 2012 at 2:13 PM · Report this
@15 -- "I saw a dog that had been hit and killed running across the road."

Was it a zombie?
Posted by Anastasia Beaverhausen on July 3, 2012 at 3:11 PM · Report this
Catalina Vel-DuRay 26
Amazingly enough - for they are all the high-strung type - none of the Chez Vel-DuRay livestock gets all that worked up about fireworks.

Now, if you want to see histrionics, just stop over when I'm getting out the vacuum. THAT is a life & death scenario.
Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay on July 3, 2012 at 3:31 PM · Report this
@25: No, it was a bloody corpse. Hence, it made me sad.

I saw a dog that had been hit and killed while running across the road. Better?
Posted by MLM on July 3, 2012 at 3:47 PM · Report this
TVDinner 28
@28: While you were running across the road? I find it hard to see details when running, myself.
Posted by TVDinner http:// on July 3, 2012 at 4:08 PM · Report this
@27 -- Yes, thanks. It's also better for the dog (to not be a zombie).
Posted by Anastasia Beaverhausen on July 3, 2012 at 4:10 PM · Report this
@28 -- Good point. There's never an English major around when you really need one.
Posted by Anastasia Beaverhausen on July 3, 2012 at 4:14 PM · Report this
@16- those thundercoats work wonders. it really calms my dog. she still wants to snuggle, but she isn't shaking in fear during storms or fireworks.
Posted by jayme on July 3, 2012 at 4:30 PM · Report this
Queen of Sleaze 32
I agree with everything except when it comes to the miniature show pony... Personally I prefer to leave the stall doors open for both my full size horse and my miniature pony. First, horses love to hurt themselves and it is easier to do this locked in a stall than in a safely fenced, mowed, and de-rockified pasture. Second, I have a serious fear of barn fires and 4th of July only intensifies those fears. Doors open = escape from horrific barn fire, doors shut generally = horrific and heart breaking ending.
Posted by Queen of Sleaze on July 3, 2012 at 4:35 PM · Report this
Sorry to sound snippy - I do love a good grammar kerfluffle. And zombies.

Dead dogs just deflate my sense of humor. {sad trombone}
Posted by MLM on July 3, 2012 at 4:46 PM · Report this
And here I thought jailbreaks were only for iPhones!
Posted by Weekilter on July 3, 2012 at 5:32 PM · Report this
Microchipping a dog or cat does not make it safe. In trials with known-to-be-chipped animals, perfect scanning technique, and multiple scans, fewer than half of chips were successfully read. Many shelters don't have good quality readers, and many shelters don't really try at all to locate chips. Even if the chip is found, if you haven't paid your annual fee, the chip company won't have updated contact information. The best they will be able to do is try to find the person who placed the chip and track you down. And they will almost certainly not do this, it can take hours.

I don't have a great answer - although there isn't great data, the impression is that pets who get lost often do not get found again, despite your best efforts. So anything you can do to prevent them getting lost or taken to a shelter in the first place is golden.

Looking forward to all the sad dog and cat emergencies the next 36 hours will bring...
Posted by Thisbe on July 3, 2012 at 6:15 PM · Report this
Also @32 - I hope your horses stay safe! I never cease to be amazed at all the new ways to hurt themselves in previously-thought-safe locations horses can find. Good thing their noses are so cute...
Posted by Thisbe on July 3, 2012 at 6:26 PM · Report this
lauramae 37
I hate fireworks. And I hate the fucking idiots who fucking set them off every fucking goddamned year. Fuck you all you hayseed whompers and your fucking explosives.
Posted by lauramae on July 3, 2012 at 9:44 PM · Report this
watchout5 38
3 cats at my old place. 1 would fall asleep, not caring about something so far away, another would run closer because FLASHING LIGHTS OMFG and the 3rd is the one to tear off the blinds in a fit of rage as to why anyone would make such aggressive noise. Every animal will take this differently
Posted by watchout5 on July 4, 2012 at 3:15 AM · Report this
Catalina Vel-DuRay 39
I was at the fireworks stand in Skyway last night, looking for some black cats or lady fingers, perhaps a sparkler or two. Roman Candle, bottle rocket, festive fountain - and it's amazing what they sell these days - and so expensive! I ended up spending $500 on something called the Doomsday USA Package.

(just kidding about that last part. I left empty-handed, went to Fred Meyer and bought a Red, White & Blue novelty hat.)

Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay on July 4, 2012 at 7:23 AM · Report this

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