Fourth of July a rough day for dogs, cats

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PHOENIX -- As fun as the Fourth of July is for humans, it can be terrifying for our pets.

More pets get lost on the Fourth of July than on any other day of the year. Exploding fireworks often scare them, causing them to run away, and once they've left the safety of home behind, anything can happen.

"It's the most dangerous time of year for pets," animal expert Dr. Grey Stafford of Wildlife World Zoo and Aquarium told 3TV's Javier Soto.

Filled with lost animals, July 5 tended to be one of the busiest days of the year for shelters throughout the country.

Stafford advised pet owners to leave their animals indoors if at all possible.

"That way, if they do get upset, they're not going to escape your home," he explained. "A lot of times, pets are left outdoors and they make use of tunnels under fences or they climb the fences because they're just that upset."

"Even the most well-behaved pet may panic," said Maricopa County Animal Care and Control spokeswoman Melissa Gable. "Create a safe haven for your pet in a quiet part of your home."

He also suggested closing closet doors and putting away things that might be turned into chew toys.

Distraction in the form of entertainment and activities also can be a good remedy for fear. To that end, toys and treats can be useful.

Gable suggest leaving a TV or radio on to keep your pet company and mask the sounds of the fireworks.

Make sure your pet has plenty of water and that it's easily accessible. Scared animals pant and can become dehydrated quickly, even if they're safe and sound inside.

"If your dog is totally inconsolable, let him go hide," Stafford said. "A kennel is a great option for that. Throw in of his favorite blankets. … Give him that denning opportunity."

The same things apply to cats, Stafford said.

Above all, make sure your pets have proper ID. If your animal has a microchip, make sure your contact information is up to date. Should your pet escape, that identification will be the best tool shelters have to help your pet find his way home to you.

If you pet does get lost, MCACC suggests you check with their two shelters every two days. Both shelters open at 11 a.m. Friday, July 5.

MCACC says it's also a good idea to file a missing pet report on and

An ad in the lost-and-found section of Craigslist also can be helpful. It's quick and easy to do and more effective than you might think. Bretta Nelson at the Arizona Humane Society told us last year that Craigslist posts helped reunite more than 1,000 lost pets with their owners in 2011.

Also, file a report with Missing Mutts (and Cats) by calling 480-898-8914.

Check with the local vet offices and animals shelters, including the Arizona Human Society and Maricopa County Animal Care and Control, as soon as possible.

Be patient. July 5 is a very busy day for shelters as they work to reunite lost dogs with their families. But also be aware that the clock is ticking.

The law only requires shelters to hold animals for 72 hours before putting them up for adoption. What's more, pets suffering irreparable injuries or failing health and temperament exams may be euthanized after that 72-hour period.

Maricopa County Animal Care & Control
602-506-PETS (7387)
West Valley Center, 2323 S. 35th Ave.
East Valley Center, 2630 W. Eighth St.

Arizona Humane Society
Campus for Compassion 1521 W. Dobbins Road
Sunnyslope facility 9226 N. 13th Ave.