Oh how I dread Victoria Day, and Canada Day for that matter. Because, as an animal rescuer, I know this coming week -- without fail -- I'll receive countless calls from distraught pet owners whose animals have bolted from fear during fireworks displays.
Roughly 10,000 pets go missing in the greater Toronto area each year. And they are only the ones that are reported. Of them, only an approximate 60 per cent make it home. Many of these bolts take place during fireworks displays. Everyone's busy getting the celebrations ready, and no one is thinking of the impact on their domestic pets. No one is thinking of the impact to local birds and small mammals, nor are they considering the inherent pollution either -- but that is not my interest. I have spent the majority of my adult life saving other peoples' pets. So, if I may be so bold, might I respectfully ask the community to let me enjoy a long weekend for a change, by using the following tips to help you put safety and prevention front and center for your beloved pets and reduce the workload in my rescue work day.
If you choose to subject your pet to campfires and fireworks, or take them to the local park with you to watch displays, please ensure they are on a secure leash and collar -- being mindful, of course, that a leash that is not attached to a supervising human is a potential choking/safety hazard for any pet. That said, a dog at large with a trailing leash will garner more reports than one without. But also please know that pets do not get the same enjoyment from fireworks as you do. In fact, and equal and opposite effect. They are terrified and confused.
Mindful guardians will use extra caution to secure pets on fireworks nights. Before you sit down to dinner, make sure the cats and dogs are in the house, hopefully protected as much as possible from the frightening and debilitating effects of the noise. Make sure the doors are kept closed - that there isn't a spring-door your pet can open on his/her own.
Double-check the strength and efficacy of your fences and gates. Check carefully for holes under fences, that fences are in good repair, and that there is nothing against the fence that a dog or cat can jump onto, and then over it.
Mindful guardians will ensure their pets have visible ID, and a microchip. They will ensure their pets' collars, ID and/or harnesses are snug and cannot slip over their pets' heads. And they go one step further, and test them.
Finally, fireworks don't just take place at night. As early as the early evening walk, fireworks are set off. You could be walking your dog at 5:00 PM, tiring him in preparation for the evening ahead, and all of a sudden, there's an explosion, your dog bolts ... and there goes your holiday. And mine.
If your pet goes missing, contact your city officials and the originating rescue organization immediately. The rescue community can be a very powerful advocate helping you locate and re-secure your pet. Take advantage of this great resource: www.helpinglostpets.com
The C4P Amber Alert for Lost Pets is designed to work with and educate families on preventative measures, as well as provide recommendations on obtaining market reach to locate a lost pet: http://c4panimalrescue.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/c4p-amber-alert-lost-pets.pdf Please bookmark this page for yourself, and if you have a moment, share/discuss with family and friends.
Your pet will love you for it.