Do You Need to Worry about a Lost Pet on July 4th?
The ASPCA shared some interesting new data about lost and returned pets in July. Data from various shelters in the U.S. shows a spike in stray or lost dogs turning up at shelters in July. For cats, the biggest month was May. It may come as a surprise, however, that we don't see the same July spike for return-to-owner rates, or the number of pets in shelters who are claimed by their owners. More dogs are lost in July, but the number of pets returned to owners remains steady.
If you lost your dog during a fireworks display on July 4th, wouldn't you be likely to check the shelter for your pet soon after?
Bad weather may be the cause of more lost pets in July instead of fireworks. 12% of dog owners reported their dog was lost around the same time because of a big storm or major weather event. 4th of July fireworks weren't blamed as a major cause of a lost pet. July can be stormy in various parts of the U.S., which may be more of a contributing factor for lost pets than fireworks.
Another possible explanation is that many of the dogs and cats being taken in by shelters during the month of July were lost weeks or even months before July 4th. Frightened pets, especially cats, are able to find hiding spots where they can remain mostly out of sight for longer periods of time. The loud noise from fireworks or bad storms may be flushing them out of hiding.
There are lots of ways we could interpret the data. The most important thing for you to keep in mind is that pets can be lost or found at any time. You can take extra steps to prevent your pet from escaping throughout the year.
Best Ways to Find a Lost Pet
If you have lost a pet within the past few weeks or months, the days following July 4th may be a good time to visit your local shelters. If previously lost pets are being scared out of hiding, they may be caught and taken to a shelter.
Other things that may help you find your lost pet:
- Search your neighborhood. Walk or drive through your neighborhood during different times of the day. Check for glowing eyes under bushes and cars at night.
- Check your neighbors' homes. In a study of 158 cases of lost indoor cats, 92% were found within a 5-house radius. Your lost cat might be hiding a few dozen feet from your home.
- Put up giant posters with a recent photo of your pet and your contact information.
- Check lost pet sites and apps like Craigslist and the Center for Lost Pets.
- Stay positive and don’t give up on finding your pet. Dogs and cats have been known to find their way home even after being lost for several months. Your reunion story could be next!
- Hire a professional pet detective.
Preventing Lost Pets
While not every pet has extreme reactions to fireworks, you can take a few precautions to make sure your pet doesn't get scared by the festivities of the 4th.
Have you ever been startled by an unexpected, loud clap of thunder? You know you can’t always control your reaction. Whether the noise stops you in your tracks or makes you jump, you’ll feel your heart race and your adrenaline rise as you go into fight or flight mode.
Dogs and cats can have similar reactions. A sudden, loud noise like thunder, gunfire, or fireworks can incite fear. Your pet might start panting, whining, salivating, or making frantic attempts to escape. Give your pet peace of mind this 4th of July with these tips.
- Keep your pet inside. It may be tempting to include your dog or cat in the Independence Day festivities, but you and your pet will feel much safer if your pet is in a quiet, escape-proof home.
- Create a safe space. Bathrooms, basements, and closets can make a great bunker for your dog or cat during the July 4th fireworks. Keep them occupied with a food puzzle. You can also cancel out the noise by playing some music or turning on your television. You can also try products like ThunderShirt that reduce your pet's anxiety.
- Comfort your pet. If you decide to take your dog along to your celebration or the noise is unavoidable, comfort your pet. Remember, pets pick up cues from you. If you're calm, they're less likely to stress too.
- Make sure your pet has an ID tag. If leaving your dog at home is not an option, make sure they have proper identification. Should a loud noise startle your pet, they may run out of fear. An ID tag may help you get your dog back safely.