Help prevent surge in stray pets frightened by Fourth of July fireworks

Regional Animal Services of King County is ready for an expected surge in stray cats and dogs at animal shelters from Independence Day fireworks.

RASKC will have additional volunteers on duty around the Fourth of July to help residents find their lost pets.

"While fireworks are beautiful to look at, they can be scary for our pets," said Dr. Gene Mueller, RASKC Manager. "The bangs and booms are hard on their sensitive hearing, and even the calmest pet can get upset by the unfamiliar loud noises."

To help your pet cope with the noise from fireworks, and reduce the chance that it runs away, RASKC offers these tips:

Keep your pet secured indoors in the quietest room of your home while fireworks are audible. You can also use soothing music or television as a distraction. Some pets will stay calmer when placed in a secure crate in a darkened, quiet room.

If your pet is normally kept outside, bring them inside or put them in a well-ventilated garage or shed or in a basement while fireworks are going off.

Make sure your pet has at least two forms of identification. This can be a pet license and personalized tag, a license and a microchip, or all three (license, tag, and microchip). Pets with ID have a much greater chance of being returned to their owners.

Don't assume that your pet won't react just because you haven't had problems in the past. Sometimes, pets become sensitive to loud noises later in life.

If your pet is lost, check in person at all local shelters, and check back often. It may take some time before spooked pets are brought to shelters.

If your pet does manage to escape, RASKC is ready to help. In addition to animal services staff, extra volunteers will be on duty over the holiday weekend at the King County Pet Adoption Center in Kent to help owners looking for their missing pets. Volunteers will be able to help owners search the stray pet kennels, file a missing pet report, and create missing pet posters.

Residents whose pets are missing can also call the RASKC stray hotline at 206-296-3936 to hear a list of the pets picked up by animal control officers each day. The King County Pet Adoption Center is located at 21615 64th Ave. S. in Kent. The center is open Monday from 3 to 6 p.m., Tuesday through Friday noon to 6 p.m., and weekends from noon to 5 p.m. The center will be closed on Independence Day.

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