4th Of July Fireworks: ‘Utterly Terrifying’ For NYC Dogs
“They don’t know where the noise is coming from,” said an American Kennel Club exec. “They try to escape because they don’t understand.”
Kathleen Culliton,Patch Staff
Posted Thu, Jun 30, 2022 at 12:09 pm ET|Updated Fri, Jul 1, 2022 at 11:52 am ET
In lieu of the national holiday, the American Humane Society is urging dog owners to take precautions to protect their petrified pups, who might try to make a dash for it when they hear the big bang. (Shutterstock)
NEW YORK CITY — New Yorkers remembering the pandemic’s “war zone of illegal fireworks” aren’t the only bracing themselves for an explosive Fourth of July — dogs find the skyline spectaculars “utterly terrifying,” advocates say.
In lieu of the national holiday, the American Humane Society is urging dog owners to take precautions to protect their petrified pups, who suffer stress and might even try to make a dash for it when they hear the big bang.
“They don’t know where the noise is coming from,” Dallas Harsa, an executive at the American Kennel Club’s Reunite, said in a post on the group’s website. “And they try to escape because they don’t understand.”
New York City tends to take celebration to the next level — remember the Brooklyn woman who armed herself with a firework and stormed Crown Heights? — and the problem only worsened at the beginning of the pandemic, when nightly illegal firework displays prompted an explosion of 311 complaints.
“It’s not just a little noise,” New Yorker Joanna Clearfield told Patch at the time. “It’s like living in a war zone.”
If the fireworks are hard for humans to take, they can be traumatic for the four-legged friends who can’t understand what’s happening, experts say.
That’s why it’s up to pet owners to do what they can to prepare their dogs for the 4th of July. Here a few tips from the Humane Society
- Take your pup on extra-long walks and schedule vigorous play time to tire her out before the festivities begin.
- Leave the dog at home if you head out to watch the fireworks displays. It’s best to sequester it inside and make a place where it’s shielded from loud noises. Turn on a radio or television to soften loud noises.
- If you already know the dog is frightened by loud noises, don’t leave it alone while you’re out celebrating. Make sure someone can stay behind with it.
- If you can’t leave your dog unattended, make sure the pup is leashed and under your direct control at all times.
- Veterinarians may prescribe tranquilizers for dogs that experience high anxiety, or an animal behaviorist can work with pets on their fears.
- There are non-prescription alternatives to calm anxious dogs, such as ThunderShirt or other anti-anxiety jackets (they’re made for cats, too) that apply gentle, constant pressure similar to swaddling an infant, the makers say.
Also, AKC Reunite said, “keep toys in your pet’s safe area to make the area more fun and to provide distractions from loud noises and flashes.” Soothing music is a good idea, too.
If a pet does run away, “the very first thing owners need to do is get a search party out and have their cellphone with them,” Harsa of AKC Reunite said. “You should scatter because you don’t know where the pet went.”
Also, check with shelters, including those within a 60-mile radius.
Owners of dogs that are enrolled in a microchip program should contact a designated recovery service in their areas. AKC Reunite has agents available around the clock on July 5 to answer questions and help locate pets.
The organization will call, text and email owners when their pets are found. Take note: There’s a fee to enroll, but since most shelters aren’t open on weekends to run microchip searches, AKC Reunite will have agents working 24/7 on July 5.
A number of online sites help reunite pets with their owners, including:
The Humane Society of the United States cautions pet owners to be wary of pet-recovery scams.
“When talking to a stranger who claims to have found your pet, ask him to describe the pet thoroughly before you offer any information,” the organization advises. “If he does not include the identifying characteristic you left out of the advertisements, he may not really have your pet. Be particularly wary of people who insist that you give or wire them money for the return of your pet.”
Patch’s national news desk contributed to this report.