Fireworks and pets don’t mix

Published 9:32 am Thursday, July 2, 2015

It happens every year.

Animals — especially dogs — hear the loud boom of an exploding firework and run away if given the opportunity.

Many of those animals end up at local animal shelters and this year is no different, according to the director of the Berrien County Animal Control.

“We are absolutely full (at the shelter) and we have been in the last month,” said Val Grimes. “It breaks our heart to see them come in.”

Grimes attributes the increase in strays to a combination of fireworks use, bad weather and the full moon.

She said they see a large increase of strays every year around the Fourth of July.

“We know it is going to happen so we always plan on it,” she said.

If a pet runs away, Grimes said to contact the animal control shelter (269) 471-7531 right away. They keep animals that come in as strays at least 10 days before putting them up for adoption.

“We work very hard to get them back to the owners — we do everything we can — and most people get them back,” she said.

There are things people can do to decrease the chance that their pet will run away and increase their pets happiness this holiday season.

Grimes recommends leaving on a fan or the TV to drown out the noise of loud explosions.

“If you can bring them in and put them somewhere they are secure that’s the main thing because they will run,” she said.

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is asking pet owners to follow these simple tips from the American Veterinarian Medical Association to help put pet safety first over the holiday:

• Make sure your pets have identification tags with up-to-date contact information and consider talking to your veterinarian about micro-chipping your animals.

• Keep pets indoors and leave them at home when attending firework displays, parades and gatherings.

• Consider housing your pets in a crate or escape-proof area during the fireworks.

• Avoid feeding your pets food intended for humans and keep charcoal out of reach.

• Be conscious of the temperature, leaving your pets in vehicles can be dangerous as car interiors heat up quickly and pets can overheat while spending time outdoors.

AVMA is also reminding people that fireworks can also affect livestock and horses so people should make sure they are in a safe place and consider adding your identification to their horses’ halters. For more information, visit the AVMA’s website at