By Janet McAfee

In past years, we humans cheerfully celebrated our nation’s July 4th Independence Day with fun, food, family and fireworks.  But in 2020 with COVID-19, things are different in so many ways including the cancellation of public fireworks events.  In past years, July 4th is the worst day of the year for our canine and feline friends. This year, fireworks blast through our Coachella Valley on a nightly basis for the past week.  Some folks bored with the lack of entertainment, and perhaps frustrated with the Pandemic’s consequences, are setting off illegal fireworks every night.  They may or may not realize the loud noise from fireworks is extremely painful to dogs’ ears.  The bangs, explosions, bright lights, and sirens create fear and confusion for our beloved pets.

Riverside County prohibits the use of these fireworks, and violators may be fined up to $1,000.  Frustrated pet owners can report these fireworks to the Sheriff’s Department Dispatch at (951) 776-1099, IF YOU CAN IDENTIFY AN ADDRESS.  The loud booms are distressing to animals, create stress for people with PTSD, and disturb the sleep of thousands of others.

In past years, our streets and highways look like war zones on July 5th with dead and injured animals who escaped from homes in their fright. Others end up as strays in our public shelters.  Dogs in their frenzy from fireworks will jump tall fences that ordinarily contain them.  My best friend’s cat broke through a window screen and escaped, though luckily returned the next day.  Shelters coping with budget issues and reduced staff from Pandemic woes may not have the manpower to respond to injured and lost animals.  Now we are dealing with terrified and escaping animals every night for a 2 week period.  

What are some things you can do to keep your pets safe?  The most important thing you can do is keep your pets inside during this extended “holiday”, except for short supervised potty breaks.  

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WALK YOUR DOGS BEFORE THE FIREWORKS BEGIN, AND KEEP ALL PETS SECURELY INSIDE THE HOUSE UNTIL THE NIGHT AND FIREWORKS ARE COMPLETELY OVER.  Because the actual holiday falls on a Saturday this year, we will likely see an increase in Fireworks that weekend and through Sunday.  

When your pets are safely inside, play soft music, turn on the television, or put in a fan to create white noise that sooths them from the extreme sounds.  Keep windows and curtains closed to further reduce noise and keep out the bright firework flashes.  Be careful when the front door opens.  Your pet is already under stress, and he is more likely to dart out an open door or window.  If you have a dog that is prone to running off, consider purchasing a GPS tracker that can monitor his location.

You may want to purchase rescue remedy or other calming supplement from a pet specialty shop. One owner reported a few drops of Frankincense essential oil placed along the back of their dog’s neck helped him stay calm.  For more serious cases of anxiety, your veterinarian can prescribe medication.

Consider purchasing a Thundershirt for your pup, a gentle garment designed to reduce anxiety.  Provide your pet with a new toy such as a Kong with their favorite treats inside.

YOUR PET SHOULD WEAR AN ID TAG ON HIS COLLAR AT ALL TIMES WITH YOUR CELL PHONE ENGRAVED.  These inexpensive tags can be purchased at Petco and PetSmart.  Your pet should be microchipped and contact information kept current.  Make sure you have a current photo of all pets. These are the most important things you can do to ensure the safe return of a missing pet.

If your pup is outside as you prepare a holiday BBQ, keep these curious creatures away from charcoal.  Don’t give them “people food” treats.  Foods such as onions, chocolate, avocado, grapes, raisins, and yeast dough can be toxic.   Never leave unattended alcoholic drinks near your pets as they have the potential to poison them.

Similar precautions need to be taken by cat owners.  Some cats are oblivious to fireworks, while others become very agitated.  Keep all windows and blinds shut.  Offer needed reassurance.  Allow them to hide under the bed or burrow under a blanket until they feel it’s safe to come out.

Looking for a missing pet?  The Coachella Valley Animal Campus shelter, located at 72-050 Pet Land Place in Thousand Palms, houses stray animals from all Coachella Valley cities other than Palm Springs.  You can contact them at (760) 343-3644 and www.rcdas.org.   The Palm Springs shelter is located at 4575 Mesquite in Palm Springs, (760) 416-5719 and www.psanimalshelter.org.  Please note that both these pubic shelters remain closed for public walk-ins during COVID, so you must check websites and  call about missing dogs.  An effective way to get a missing dog or cat returned is to post their photo on www.NextDoor.com which alerts hundreds of your neighbors.  There are several local Facebook pages dedicated to reuniting missing pets, including “Lost and Found Pets in the Coachella Valley”.      

I wish you and your 4-legged family members a happy, safe, and healthy summer!

Janetmcafee8@gmail.com  

Below is a partial list of shelters and rescues in the Inland Empire with animals for adoption. You can view most of their animals online in advance of calling.  If you cannot adopt, consider making a donation to one of the private rescues that rely on those funds.

COACHELLA VALLEY ANIMAL CAMPUS – This county shelter is closed but you can call for an appointment to adopt.  You can view the animals at all 4 Riverside county shelters at www.rcdas.org, and get the ID number of the animal you want to meet. Email them with the animal’s ID number at shelterinfo@rivco.org and call (760) 343-3644. Located at 72050 Pet Land Place, Thousand Palms. (Public)

PALM SPRINGS ANIMAL SHELTER – The shelter is closed but you can call for an appointment to adopt.  They schedule appointments Wednesday through Monday, closed on Tuesday.  View their animals online at www.psanimalsshelter.org, 4575 E. Mesquite Ave, Palm Springs, (760) 416-5718. (Public)

ANIMAL SAMARITANS – The shelter is closed but you can call for an appointment to adopt.  View their animals at www.animalsamaritans.org.  Email acorrow@animalsamaritans.org to foster.  Located at 72307 Ramon Rd, Thousand Palms, (760) 601-3918.  (Private)

CALIFORNIA PAWS RESCUE  – The shelter is closed but you can call for an appointment to adopt. Located at 73650 Dinah Shore, Palm Desert.  View their animals at www.californiapawsrescue.com, (760) 656-8833.  (Private)

HUMANE SOCIETY OF THE COACHELLA VALLEY – The shelter is closed but you can call for an appointment to adopt a dog or cat.  View their animals at www.orphanpet.com. Located at 17825 N. Indian Canyon, Palm Springs, (760) 329-0203.  (Private)

KITTYLAND – The shelter is closed so call for an appointment to adopt a cat.  Located at 67600 18th Avenue, Desert Hot Springs, www.kittylandrescue.org, (760) 251-2700.  (Private)

FOREVER MEOW – Foster based  rescue for cats located in Rancho Mirage.  Contact them through website www.ForeverMeow.org, or call (760) 335-6767. (Private)

LOVING ALL ANIMALS – The shelter is closed but you can call for an appointment to adopt. Located at 83496 Avenue 51, Coachella, www.lovingallanimals.org, (760) 834-7000. (Private)

MORONGO BASIN HUMANE SOCIETY – Located at 4646 Sun View Rd, Joshua Tree, www.mbhumanesociety.com, call between 11am-4pm for updates (760) 366-3786 (Private)

CITY OF SAN BERNARDINO ANIMAL SHELTER – Shelter is closed but you can call for an appointment to adopt.  Hours for adoption 10am – 4pm Tuesday thru Sat. Google “City of San Bernardino Animal Shelter” for website to view animals and get the ID number of the animal you want to meet.  Located at 333 Chandler Place, San Bernardino, (909) 384-1304 or (909) 384-7272. (Public)

SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY ANIMAL SHELTER AT DEVORE – Shelter closed but you can call for an appointment to adopt. Call (909) 386-9280 daily between 9am & 5pm.  View animals at www.sbcounty.gov/acc and get the ID number of animal you want to meet. Located at 19777 Shelter Way, San Bernardino (Public).

DREAM TEAM ANGELS RESCUE – Foster based rescue located in Grand Terrace/San Bernardino area.  Contact them through website www.DreamTeamangelsrescue.com, (360) 688-8884. (Private)