Some Inland Empire animal shelters had a busy day Tuesday, July 5, as they grappled with a spike in pets that ran away after being spooked by booming fireworks.
A day after Fourth of July celebrations ended, some shelters saw a jump in lost pets, while others saw average numbers.
Animal Friends of the Valley in Wildomar took in 92 cats and dogs over the long weekend and returned about 16 to their owners, Animal Friends spokesperson Tammy La Barbera said.
On Tuesday morning, the non-profit shelter that serves Lake Elsinore, Canyon Lake, Wildomar, Menifee, Murrieta and Temecula, saw a long line of owners searching for missing pets, La Barbera said.
Noisy fireworks often scare animals and cause them to run away, become lost or suffer stress, according to the Humane Society, a non-profit group that fights animal abuse.
In San Bernardino County, dozens of strays landed in shelters.
A total of 36 cats and 36 dogs were accepted at county animal shelters in Devore and Big Bear Lake between Friday, July 1, until 2 pm Tuesday, according to county spokesperson David Wert.
During the same period last year, both shelters accepted 26 cats and 19 dogs.
In Moreno Valley, the shelter received just a few more dogs in the week leading up to the long weekend than last year’s impounds in that period, city spokesperson Matthew Bramlett said.
He added that it was an average Tuesday for the shelter.
While some shelters saw increasing numbers, others didn’t.
John Welsh, a spokesperson for Riverside County Animal Services, said impounds were “not as insane as they used to be.”
Welsh thinks that the microchipping of pets and neighborhood apps have helped worried owners find runaway pets scared by pyrotechnics.
Residents use apps such as Nextdoor to post news about their community and its pet directory lets people register their pets, post photos of them and include owner contact information. The app could be making it easier for owners to find their missing pets before they are taken to a shelter.
Residents also use Facebook to advertise for lost and found dogs. In one group, Lost and found pets – Hemet and San Jacinto, people posted about a number of dogs that took off because of fireworks.
At the Riverside County Department of Animal Services, workers take in an average of 80 pets on a normal day. They saw 95 on Friday, July 1; 19 on Saturday, July 2; and 30 on Sunday, July 3.
In Corona, 15 dogs and nine cats were picked up by the city’s animal shelter staff over the weekend, which is about normal compared to previous years, city spokesperson Cindy Solis said. Eight dogs were reunited with owners, but it’s unknown if the pets were lost before the long weekend, Solis said.
There are ways pet owners can prepare for fireworks, shelter officials said.
Microchipping pets and using collars with identification helps keep animals safe, Welsh said.
“It’s really important for owners to prepare ahead of time,” La Barbera said.
Owners should microchip their pets and create a safe area in their home to distract pets from fireworks, she said.
To help owners reclaim pets, the non-profit Animals are First Fund has agreed to pay a portion of owner redemption fees through Sunday, July 10, in San Bernardino County. The group will cover impoundment, pick-up and other fees associated with reclaiming lost pets.