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Fourth of July Pet Safety

How to keep pets safe during Fourth of July festivities and fireworks shows, as well as what to do if you lose or find a pet during the holiday.

Fireworks may cause pets to panic and escape from their normal enclosures or to bolt away from their owners. Even pets that have never seemed bothered by loud noises before can develop new fears. Pet owners should take precautions before they hear the first boom, because after that, things can be very unpredictable. In many neighborhoods, fireworks happen at any time day or night, and not just on the actual holiday.

Here are some tips to help keep your pet safe:

  • Check fences to make sure there are no loose boards, holes or other places where a frightened dog could escape. Double check that all gates are securely latched.
  • Starting the weekend before July 4th, consider taking your dog out on leash to go potty and exercise, even if it's just in the back yard.
  • Verify that pets' tags and microchips have current and updated information, and that your dog is licensed. If your pet is staying with someone else and you will be out of phone range, add a tag with the caretaker's information so they can be called quickly when the pet is found.
  • Make sure you have a good current photo of your pet in case you need to make lost pet posters. Share the photo with your pet sitter so that they have it if needed.
  • Keep your pet indoors during the festivities, preferably crated or in a quiet interior room.
  • Pick a room in your home that can provide a safe space for your pet during the festivities and fireworks. Help your pet become comfortable and create a positive association with the room before the fireworks start. This space can also become a safe refuge for your pet if they get overwhelmed by houseguests or daytime celebrations as well. Play music or talk radio to try to drown out the noise.
  • Call your veterinarian to discuss medication or other options for reducing your pet’s fear if you think your pet might be afraid of loud noises. 

Lost a Pet?

  • Make a lost pet report online or by calling 503-846-7039. Shelter staff can then compare your pet's details to reports of found pets.
  • Don't limit your search to your own county. Dogs and cats can end up miles away from where they went missing, and they certainly don't pay attention to county lines. Contact information for neighboring and nearby county animal service organizations are listed on our area shelters resource page.
  • Check out social media. Sites such as NextDoor and Facebook can help. There are several lost and found pet Facebook pages, such as "Lost and Found Pets Hillsboro" and "Lost/Found Pets Washington County." Craigslist also has sections for pets and lost and found.
  • Search your neighborhood and notify your neighbors as soon as you realize your pet is missing. Make fliers with your pet's photo and your phone number on them. Put them up in the neighborhood. Also check with your local pet-related businesses, such as veterinarians, pet supply companies and other local places where people might take a pet.
  • In addition to these tips, be sure to check out our page with lost pet search tips.

Found a Pet?

  • If you find a stray dog or cat, assume that it is someone's pet that has accidentally gotten away rather than a "dumped" or neglected animal.
  • If a dog has a Washington County license, you can look up the owner using our online License Look-Up tool. When you type in the dog's license number, you'll get the phone number of the owner. Other counties have similar services. This can save you (and the dog) a trip to the shelter.
  • Make a found pet report online or by calling us at 503-846-7039. Contacting us increases the probability of reuniting an animal with its owner. Our shelter is where people look for their missing pets. Our staff will advise you on options for bringing the pet to our shelter or caring for it in your home until the owner is found. Most veterinary offices will also scan found pets for a microchip free of charge, but be sure to call them first and follow any protocols they have in place.
  • In addition to these tips, be sure to check out our Report a Found Pet and Other Resources page.