Helping pets survive Fourth of July mayhem

By: By Amber Hatten-Staley - Staff reporter

LAURINBURG — American spirit and patriotism runs wild leading up to the Fourth of July, but all the commotion often has pets running scared.

Shooting off fireworks to celebrate America’s birthday can be stressful for the furrier members of the family. Should your pet get loose and be picked up by Scotland County Animal Control they will be taken to the Scotland County Humane Society, according to Adam Liles, animal control officer.

“We are complaint driven. If someone calls we go out and check into it,” Liles said. “This time of year, June to August, is wide open anyway because people are out doing more and seeing more. If we pick up a dog and don’t know who it belongs to we take it to the humane society and they place it in their lost and found.”

Liles said animal control gets a few additional calls on the Fourth of July, but not an overwhelming amount.

“Some dogs don’t like fireworks, so they’ll escape,” he said.

Scotland County does have a restraint ordinance which states, “Owners shall keep his/her dog under restraint at all times and shall not permit the dog to be at large.”

Generally owners are given a warning the first time their pet gets loose, Liles said. After that they can be cited for running at large, which can result in fines of up to $500.

Pets that are turned over to the Humane Society are listed on the organization’s website as lost.

In order for owners to reclaim their animals they must bring proof of ownership, proof of current rabies vaccinations and payment for boarding plus an impoundment fee.

“Scotland County Humane Society has their own fees for boarding per day and owners have to pay for a rabies shot if the animals are not up-to-date on them,” Liles said.

In order to avoid a call or trip to the humane society to retrieve your pet, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has six recommendations on how to keep animals safe and at home during the firework laden holiday.

1. Never take dogs to fireworks displays or leave them, or cats, outside alone during fireworks displays. Instead, keep them indoors, and if possible, stay home with them.

2. Be sure your animals are wearing collars or harnesses with an up-to-date ID tag. A microchip would be a good idea, just in case.

3. Close all your windows, curtains, and blinds. Frightened dogs sometimes attempt to jump through windows, even on upper floors. Turn on a radio that’s tuned to a classical music station, play specially designed music to calm dogs composed by Through a Dog’s Ear, or turn on the TV, window air conditioner, fan, or dehumidifier to help drown out the sound of the fireworks.

4. Distract your dog by playing games, and be generous with treats for ignoring explosions. In addition to being a reward, food has a beneficial effect on brain chemistry.

5. A Thundershirt provides gentle, consistent pressure that can help both dogs and cats feel more secure and relaxed during fireworks displays and thunderstorms.

6. Melatonin, a naturally occurring hormone, works wonders to calm dogs down (the dosage is 3 mg for a 50-pound dog — adjust the dose by body weight). There also are many other natural calming supplements for dogs, including herbs, homeopathics, and nutriceuticals, available at any pet supply store. You may want to try more than one to see which one works best for your dog.

If you see an animal loose or roaming the streets contact either the City of Laurinburg Animal Control officer at 910-277-3231 or Scotland County Animal Control during the day at 910-277-2470, ext. 4432, or after hours at 910-276-1313.

Amber Hatten-Staley can be reached at 910-506-3170 or [email protected]

By Amber Hatten-Staley

Staff reporter