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Summer Is Coming: How to Prepare Your Animal Shelter for July 4th

The 4th of July is a crazy time for pets and their owners. With BBQs, fireworks and parades, more pets than ever get separated from their owners. This means July 4th is also a crazy time for shelters. So what can we, as pet professionals, do to prepare for this crazy time of year? Read on to learn more!

Why Is July 4th a Crazy Time for Shelters?

As already mentioned, more pets get lost on the 4th of July than any other time of year. Even normally well-behaved and calm animals can get skittish during the hubbub of this holiday and run away. Plus the 4th of July also happens to fall during Kitten Season. This time of year is when cats tend to have all their litters, so shelters are already packed with baby kittens.

How to Prepare Your Shelter or Pet Professional Organization:

  • Inform your community about how to prepare their own pets. Education should start as early as possible.
  • Use this as a chance to recruit new fosters and volunteers.
  • Clear up space in your own shelter by utilizing short-term foster homes. Short-term fostering over a holiday can be especially helpful in creating additional space for the influx of lost pets needing temporary housing.
  • Consider offering adoption discounts or promotions to clear the shelter and free up additional space.
  • Schedule additional staff and/or volunteers leading up to and after the holiday. Having adequate staffing over a busy holiday helps to ensure that lost pets get home quickly.
  • Consider waiving reclaim fees for the week following the holiday to help lost pets return home quickly and free up space for your adoptables.
  • In the weeks leading up to the holiday, host low-cost microchip clinics to ensure that your community’s pets are protected.  
    • While you’re at it, make sure all pets have collars and ID tags, too!
  • Make sure your organization is using universal scanners to ensure no chip is missed and train your staff on proper scanning technique.
  • Train your staff in best practices for looking up found pets.
    • Always start with the AAHA Lookup Tool, since you can register any brand with any registry.
    • If a found pet is brought in by a Good Samaritan, make sure to take down the Good Samaritan’s information in case the pet owner contacts the shelter.

Easy tips to Give Owners of Anxious Pets:

  • Identification tags with up-to-date phone numbers are a great way to get your pet home quickly.
  • Do what you can to tire out your pet during the day. Try going for a hike, finding protected open space to run, setting up a pet playdate or tiring out their minds with new puzzles and games.
  • Make sure all escape routes are blocked off. Dogs can get creative when scared and become master escape artists. Double-check your home and yard for anywhere your pet might be able to get out. Make sure any houseguests are aware and do not leave windows or doors open.
  • Do not leave your pet outside unattended. You never know what scary sounds might startle your pup and send them running while they’re outside pottying.
  • If you can’t trust your pet not to dash out a door or window, keep them in a closed room, on a leash or in a crate. And only crate your pet if they are already comfortable with it.
  • Don’t try to take them with you to the festivities. Your pup will be sure to appreciate your company at home.
  • Make sure your pet is microchipped and your information is up to date. While ID tags are great, collars and tags can fall off. A microchip is the only form of permanent contact for your pet. Make sure it is registered with up-to-date information to give you the best chance of your furry friend getting home should they go missing. 
  • Anti-anxiety vests like the ThunderShirt can help calm the nerves of your anxious animal.
  • Sometimes your furry friend might need a little something extra to help take the edge off. Talk to your vet about the best options for your pet.
  • Cancel out the noise. Make sure to close windows and shut blinds to cancel out as much noise as possible. You can also use it as an excuse to put on your favorite calming movie or music to help your pet enjoy the night.
  • If your dog is scared of all the loud noises of the 4th of July, create a safe place for them to hide such as a covered crate, cozy bed or space in the closet. Try putting their favorite treat, chew or toy in this space as well to distract them from the night’s festivities. Again, only crate your pet if they are already comfortable with it.