In the flurry of fireworks during the Fourth of July celebration dozens of dogs and cats will flee their homes, frightened by the pyrotechnic explosions becoming lost, injured or killed, leading to a scramble the day after the holiday.
Traditionally, July 5 is the busiest day for animal shelters across the country, Miller said, and Tracy is no exception.
“It’s like someone turned on the chaos switch,” Miller said, anticipating the onslaught of calls July 5 will bring to the shelter.
“We’re just like any shelter — our busiest day is July 5 and the days after,” Miller said
“For weeks, we will get people filling out lost animal reports. By noon (on July 5), we will be filled,” he said.
The shelter is at 370 Arbor Road and is open Tuesday through Saturday noon to 5:30 p.m.
Miller said the shelter saw a few more dogs go missing last year, possibly because it was the first year safe and sane fireworks could be used within city limits. But it is the Fourth of July fireworks, Miller said, that pose the problem for the shelter.
The Tracy Animal Shelter’s maximum capacity is 23 dogs, including the quarantine kennels. Miller said the shelter will fill quickly and have to double up the dogs in the kennels as they receive strays scared from their homes by the fireworks.
Last year, the shelter took in about 30 dogs on July 5.
The shelter will have four staff members working that day, but with only two animal control trucks, officers will be pressed to cover reports of stray and found dogs.
Part of the problem, Miller said, is that people treat the holiday like any other day and keep their pets in the yard.
When pets become frightened by the explosions, their natural inclination is to run he said, often leading to them being injured or killed by cars.
Miller said there are some easy steps to take to keep your pets safe during the Fourth of July:
• Exercise your dog early in the day. If it is tired, it might be less likely to run away.
• Keep your pets inside during fireworks and turn on a television or radio with the volume loud. A familiar noise may keep your pet calm during the fireworks.
• Close windows and curtains — a flash from the fireworks might be enough to startle a pet.
• Miller said never to chain or tie your dog up in the yard. It could become entangled trying to escape and injure or hang it self jumping over a fence or other object.
• Make sure your dog has some kind of identification on it, at least the minimum dog license tag. Miller said that dogs recovered with identification are often returned to the owners as soon as they are found to keep the number of dogs in the shelter down.
• If you know your pet is particularly sensitive to fireworks, see your veterinarian for a prescription sedative.
• With legal fireworks in Tracy, it is important to keep your pet away from spent fireworks. They contain chemicals that could be poisonous if ingested.
• If your pet is missing, check the animal shelter as soon as possible.
Dogs brought to the shelter will stay a minimum of five days. After that time period, they have the option of being adopted out, sent to a rescue organization or killed.
In addition to boarding the stray dogs Miller said there is the problem of caring for the injured dogs brought to the shelter.
“Last year, we had so many injured dogs it nearly exasperated my annual medical budget,” Miller said.
“The dogs get hit by cars as they run away, frightened by the fireworks. They throw their street savvy out and just run,” Miller said.
Above all, Miller urged pet owners to make sure they have some kind of identification on their pets.
“If you love your dog, make sure he has some identification on him,” Miller said.
To report an injured or stray dog, call 831-6364.