Patriotic pup

Who doesn’t look forward to the 4th of July? What’s not to love about celebrating our nation’s freedom with cookouts, cold drinks, watermelon and homemade ice cream? And then, of course, once the sun has set, we have fireworks.

The fireworks at Pell City’s Lakeside Park are always amazing. People gather at the park, and the lake is filled with boats looking forward to the spectacular fireworks we have every year. If you’re not in Pell City, it’s likely your town has its own fireworks display.

As much as we enjoy those fireworks, however, our pets don’t share our enthusiasm. According to Cindy Roberts, Medical Manager at Shelby Humane Society, the fireworks are more like Armageddon to our furry friends.

Our dogs and cats respond to fireworks as if they were gunshots, except they don’t stop. They just go on and on. An animal will run to safety when hearing a gunshot, but with fireworks, they continue to run…sometimes for miles in full-scale panic mode, trying to find a safe place.

Roberts had some good tips to offer pet owners:

• Make sure your cats and dogs are wearing a collar with tags attached.

• Make sure you have recent, clear pictures of your pet.

• If your animal is microchipped, make sure your information is updated on the microchip site.

• Tethering your animal outside is not sufficient. In panic mode, they will break the tether.

• Know your pet. Some animals feel safer in their kennel with a blanket. Some need to be close to you.

• “Thunder Shirts” can help your pet feel comforted and safe. If you don’t have one, a child’s size t-shirt can be substituted.

• If you have a relationship with your vet (and you should), ask him or her for medication to give your animal.

• Consider staying home with your furry pal. If you’re going to be gone, make arrangements for someone to stay with your pet. Roberts said she knew of one dog that literally chewed through part of a door and another that injured herself jumping through a window.

• Don’t take your pets to any fireworks displays. Although both Shelby and St. Clair Counties have leash laws, a leash won’t control a terrified dog.

So, July 4 has come and, despite your best efforts, your cat or dog has disappeared. What can you do? Roberts had several suggestions about that as well:

• Remember that dogs or cats in panic mode may have run several miles from your home. Chances are you won’t find them right in your neighborhood.

• Post your pet’s picture as well as a description on local Facebook pages.

• Go to your local shelters and your town’s police department to see if your pet is there. Don’t expect shelters or your local police department to identify your pet over the phone.

• Check the shelter within seven days and then recheck it within seven days. Repeat until your pet is found. After seven days, unclaimed animals become the property of the shelter. If you want your pet back after that, it will cost you.

• Because your pet may have run quite a distance, check with other shelters.

• Two sites that will help locate your lost pet are and Those sites will send alerts to shelters and rescues, generate a free lost pet flyer, issue “Amber Alerts” to neighbors and post to lost pet sites on Facebook—all at no charge to you.

Shelby County Humane Society, located at 381 McDow Rd. Columbiana (205- 669-3916),

has at least four “special” days each year, where you can get your cat or dog their immunizations, spaying or neutering and microchipping at greatly reduced prices. Updating information on the microchip site is free.

Pell City Animal Control, 1071 Airport Rd, Pell City (205-814-1567), offers low-cost spay/neuter certificates. They also offer microchipping and immunizations as well as pet adoption.

Enjoy the 4th of July and celebrate our freedom. I know I will. But remember what’s fun for you and me isn’t always fun for our furry friends. So, take the time and whatever steps are necessary to make the holiday safe for them.

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