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July 4th Celebration

BuzzFarmers [Flickr]

Keeping your pet safe during July 4th celebration might mean confining it indoors, keeping it calm when the fireworks begin - and making sure it always has some form of ID, such as a microchip, or tags on the collar,  so your best friend can find its way home.

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Animals are a part of our American heritage. In colonial times they were work animals, hauling goods, plowing land, carrying passengers. They helped humans hunt for food. Along the way they became our friends and companions, and remain so to this day. Even the horse, once so vital to our country – think of Paul Revere’s ride – is now kept mostly for recreational riding.

A lot of Americans keep dogs and cats as pets, enjoying their companionship. Many of us consider them part of the family. So it’s not unexpected that we would want to include them in our uniquely American holiday – Independence Day, which usually includes outdoor activities, like barbecues, parades, and fireworksthat light up the night sky.

This year, things are a little different. Many gatherings are much smaller, as people try to isolate to keep from spreading the coronavirus. Some cities that usually have huge Fourth of July fireworks displays have either cancelled them (along with other holiday activities) or are having smaller fireworks shows that can be seen in different parts of their community. Some folks are even planning their own (illegal) neighborhood fireworks.

In the past, you might have been able to control your pet’s exposure to fireworks explosions, but this year they might be right outside your door. Unfortunately, what for some is fun and exciting can become a time of terror for our animal friends. Their ears are much more sensitive than ours; to them, the sound of exploding fireworks can be painful and frightening. A dog that may ordinarily be calm around people could become very anti-social if panicked by the intense noise. Every year, shelters receive a number of rescued pets who manage to get loose and run awayin an attempt to escape the noise.

The best approach might be to just stay home with your best friend. After all, that is why you have a pet, for the companionship. So this year, celebrate by spending time with each other, a great American tradition, when you’re speaking of pets.

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Mindy Norton has been “Speaking of Pets” on Alabama Public Radio since 1995.
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