LUBBOCK, Texas — Every year, millions of Americans shoot up fireworks over the Fourth of July weekend, but while the practice may be a quintessential holiday tradition, it may also be traumatizing your pets.
“[They] hide under beds, couches. They do a lot of shivering, trembling,” Steven Greene, Director of Animal Services for the Lubbock Animal Shelter, said.
Greene said it’s common for pets to run away after getting frightened by fireworks. The shelter sees a spike in reports for lost pets around the holiday every year.
It’s not that pets are unpatriotic — it’s because the loud noise hurts their hyper-sensitive hearing.
“Some of the things I always recommend [for pets during fireworks] is keeping your pets in a dark room, kind of closed off from the rest of the house. Maybe put on some white noise like a TV or radio,” Greene said.
Livestock can also get startled by the loud noise. The shelter has seen cases where panicked horses and cows have run through fences and other cases where they’ve gotten sick or even died after ingesting debris from fireworks.
“Try to remember that these fireworks do bother a lot of animals and a lot of humans … We all want to celebrate the Fourth of July, but we want to do it in a safe and respectable manner,” Greene said.
One local couple learned that firsthand. Their service dog Jetta ran away earlier this week after getting spooked by fireworks. While she’s back at home now, they’re using their story as a warning to fellow pet owners ahead of the holiday.
“We came home at 2:30 in the morning [the night she got lost]. We were searching everywhere for her, we couldn’t find her, and so we cried ourselves to sleep basically. Then, the next morning, we got up at seven and started again,” Misty Gonzalez said.
Monday night, the loud popping from fireworks sent their nearly one-year-old beagle, fox hound mix Jetta sprinting into the streets, chased by Gonzalez and her husband Augi Gonzalez, desperate to catch her.
They said Jetta is more than just your average puppy. She also acts as a service dog for Misty’s diagnosis of PTSD.
“She’s like our kid. She’s our family,” Misty said.
The couple feared they would never see her again and that she would get hurt, or worse.
“I remember getting on my hands and knees and telling God, ‘Please don’t let me lose her, not right now,'” Augi said.
Then, they turned to social media for help in the search. A local car wash spotted Jetta and posted about it on Facebook, and they were able to help the couple reunite with their pet the day after she went missing.
“The community here is amazing because if it wasn’t for the community we wouldn’t have her [back],” Augi said.
“We’re not going to take our eyes off of her again,” Misty said.
If your pet runs away because of fireworks this weekend, call the Lubbock Animal Shelter and local vets. They also encourage pet owners to microchip their animals to make it easier to bring them home.