With illegal fireworks displays ramping up in the final days leading up to Independence Day on Monday, pet experts continue to offer advice to dog and cat owners on the best ways to ease anxiety and prevent runaways.
“The loud noises and flashing lights of fireworks can trigger your pet’s nervous systems and cause fear and anxiety,” a recent statement from the Los Angeles SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) stated. “A frequent response is to run, which is why so many pets become lost and wind up in shelters at this time of year.”
Santa Monica Police Department Lead Animal Control Officer Martin Hernandez said that every year, the Santa Monica Animal Shelter expects to see an uptick of lost dog calls and runaways turned in to the shelter around July 4, although with no professional displays the last two summers the number of strays has not spiked on the Fourth of July as it has in other years.
“When there were [professional] firework displays and that kind of thing here in the city, we would typically see the following morning dogs that were out, or we’d get reports by dog owners looking for their lost pets,” Hernandez described. This Monday will be the third consecutive Independence Day with no professional display, which could spell a reprieve for pets suffering during the holiday season.
Hernandez, who has worked for the SMPD for the last 21 years, said it was still important for pet owners to be proactive when it comes to fireworks, rather than reacting to explosive sounds when they begin. That starts with speaking to a veterinarian, especially if your pet is prone to anxiety or sensitive to loud noises.
“It’s important to speak to a veterinarian if you know that your dog does suffer from anxiety or becomes more anxious around loud noises around this time of year — and to do so before the day-of,” Hernandez said. “Especially these days, there seems to be some challenges in getting in to see a veterinarian right away, unless it’s an emergency — and even then — so it’s important for dog owners to seek the advice of their veterinarian early on.”
Veterinarians might offer specific tools or medications for skittish pets, but there are also pieces of advice all pet owners can abide by, such as using televisions, radios or white noise machines to help drown out explosions and placing pets in safe, enclosed rooms such as closets to give them a feeling of security. Hernandez said the dogs living at the shelter do not often show signs of destructive behavior during fireworks, and chalked it up to their secure locations inside the shelter. The ASPCA also recommends crate-trained dogs should be crated with favorite toys or other comfort items.
The other proactive step pet owners should take is ensuring your pet’s identifying information is secure, updated and thorough, so that if they do break out they can be returned home.
“Let’s say people try and do everything right but their animal still escapes: We want to be able to contact them right away, and our goal is to reunite animals as soon as possible and, ideally, not even bring them into the animal shelter,” Hernandez said. To achieve that goal, pets should have collar tags with up-to-date contact information, including a dog license (which is mandatory in the City of Santa Monica). If a dog is microchipped, make sure the chip has relevant contact information. According to Hernandez, more often older dogs may be found with outdated addresses and phone numbers on their chips, making it difficult to reunite them with their families.
To register your dog with the City of Santa Monica, visit licensepet.com/wl3/rc/reg/snmnwl.
Nearby Fireworks shows
While private fireworks are illegal in Santa Monica and Los Angeles, several agencies have permits for professional shows, including some near or bordering Santa Monica.
Some shows, including the Beach Club’s annual fireworks display, are taking place before July 4.
The Los Angeles Fire Department has issued permits for the following shows as of July 1.
Grand Park — 200 N Spring St, Los Angeles 90012, 4 – 9:30 p.m.
Dodger Stadium (July 1, 4) — 1000 Vin Scully Ave., Los Angeles 90026, games start at 7:10 p.m.
Beach Club (Saturday, July 2) — 14730 Pacific Coast Highway, Santa Monica 90402, 9 p.m.
Palisades Charter High School — 15777 Bowdoin St, Pacific Palisades 90272, 9 p.m.
Port of Los Angeles – Cabrillo Beach — 3800 Stephen M. White Dr., San Pedro 90731, 9 p.m.
L.A. Waterfront – Cars & Stripes Forever (July 1) — Harbor Blvd at Swinford St, San Pedro 90731, 5 – 10 p.m.
Hollywood Forever Cemetery (July 2, 3, 4) — 6000 Santa Monica Blvd, Hollywood 90038, 8 p.m.
Hollywood Bowl (July 2, 3, 4) — 2301 N Highland Ave, Hollywood 90068, 7:30 p.m.
Bel Air Bay Club – Barge — 16800 Pacific Coast Hwy, Pacific Palisades 9027
Hillcrest Country Club — 10000 W Pico Blvd, Pico-Robertson 90064
Brentwood Country Club — 590 S Burlingame Ave, Brentwood 90049
Hansen Dam 4th of July Festival [Drone Light Show – No Fireworks] — 11658 Foothill Blvd, Lake View Terrace 91342
City of San Fernando Mall (July 2) [Laser Light Show – No Fireworks] — Maclay Ave at San Fernando Road, San Fernando 91340
Lakeside Country Club — 4500 Lakeside Dr. Toluca Lake, 91505
Porter Ranch – Shepherd Church — 19700 Rinaldi St, Northridge, 91326, p.m.
Warner Ranch Park – Bob Blumenfield’s 4th of July Extravaganza, 5800 Topanga Canyon Blvd., Woodland Hills 91367, 5:30 – 9:30 p.m.
*Editor’s note: spcaLA is not a branch of ASPCA. This story has been updated to correct a previous error.