Originally Published: June 30, 2010 10 p.m.
Imagine returning home from a 4th of July celebration to find your pet missing. That is what happened to Sharon Moore and her family. They returned home to discover feces on the living room floor, the sliding glass door to the backyard open and a hole dug under the fence.
The Moores were gone only four hours, but D.O.G., their 2-year-old, German shepherd, was gone. Left on her own, she tried to escape the loud noises, probably to seek her family.
"From what we can tell, when D.O.G. heard the fireworks, she freaked out and pooped on the floor -¬ for the first time ever - then she opened the sliding glass door with her paw, and dug a hole outside our fence. She went searching for us," said Moore.
The Moores' search for D.O.G. ended when she was found dead alongside a road where she was often walked.
The Moores' tragic loss isn't unique. Loud noises from fireworks frighten animals due to their heightened sense of hearing, and they will do anything to escape the noise. This behavior is usually unpredictable and out of character, and it may include chewing through a leash, jumping through screens and glass windows, digging under a fence, jumping over a wall, bolting away from the owner, and running into traffic.
The good news is that you can ensure your pet's protection. Just follow these simple guidelines to make July 4th a happy holiday for the entire family, including your pet!
1. Don't take your pet to fireworks displays. The explosions of the fireworks are loud to the human ear. Imagine how loud it sounds to your dog, who can hear up to 60,000 cycles per second -- that's three times greater than the human ear can register.
2. Do not leave your pet in the car (ever). With only hot air to breathe inside a car, your pet can suffer serious health effects, even death, in a few short minutes. Partially opened windows do not provide sufficient air, but do provide an opportunity for your pet to be stolen.
3. Keep your pets indoors in a sheltered, quiet area. Some animals become destructive when frightened. Remove any items your pet could destroy or may be harmful to your pet if chewed. Leave a television or radio playing at normal volume to help mask the noise while you're attending 4th of July celebrations.
4. Consult your veterinarian before the 4th of July if you know your pet is seriously distressed by loud noises like thunder for ways to help alleviate the fear and anxiety he or she will experience during fireworks displays.
5. Never leave pets outside unattended, even in a fenced yard or on a tether. In their fear, pets who normally would never leave the yard may escape and become lost, or become entangled in their chain, risking injury or death.
6. Make sure your pets are wearing identification tags so that if they do become lost, they can be returned promptly. Animals found running at large should be taken to the local animal care center, where they have the best chance of being reunited with their owners. In Yavapai County, if your pet is taken to a Yavapai Humane Society shelter, he or she will be scanned for a microchip and returned to you quickly.
You can purchase a dog license and/or a microchip at Yavapai Humane Society's Low-Cost Spay/Neuter & Wellness Clinic located at 2989 Centerpointe East (Suite B) or at the main shelter at 1625 Sundog Ranch Road in Prescott. Call for hours and fees. Remember, a microchip could make the difference between losing your pet forever and recovering him or her quickly.
Please have a safe 4th of July!
Ed Boks is the executive director of the Yavapai Humane Society. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 445-2666, ext. 21.