Fairbanks animal shelter talks pet safety during holiday weekend

Published: Jul. 2, 2021 at 3:38 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - While fireworks may be fun for some, they can be unpleasant and even scary for our furry friends.

According to Kimberly Imbert, Operations Supervisor, for the Fairbanks North Star Borough Animal Shelter, many animals of all kinds don’t take too kindly to fireworks. “Fireworks can be really scary for animals just like it can be for some people. Often they don’t understand what’s going on, it’s a really loud, surprising noise sometimes accompanied by light, and so that can just be really upsetting to animals. Or sometimes they can handle it really well at first and if it continues to go on, it can cause them stress after a certain amount of time. It seems like animals can be really scared of fireworks, all kinds of species. Dogs, cats, all kinds exotic animals, even outdoor animals can show signs of stress and get really frightened during fireworks.”

Imbert said there are a variety of measures one can take to ensure their pet is comfortable during any July 4th celebrations. “If at all possible, it’s really good to stay with your pets to monitor them and do small things to make them feel more comfortable. Something that a lot of people do is keep their pets indoors and either play soothing music or have a white noise machine to help drown out the sounds. Another thing you can do is every time there’s a loud scary noise happening, you can have a treat party. You can give your dogs lots of treats so they start associating it with something positive.”

One should also take precautions to prevent an animal from escaping due to being frightened, according to Imbert. “Just be really careful to keep your pets restrained. Even if your dog normally goes outside without a leash, keep him on a leash because there’s a lot of things going on this weekend that are outside of their norm. So you want to keep your dogs and your cats and all of your animals really safe, make sure you have them restrained at all times in case surprising fireworks or loud noises go off. You don’t want your dog to spook and run away or your other pet to spook at that moment.”

Imbert also added, “Along the lines of just being extra cautious when restraining your pets, be mindful if you’re having a gathering to make sure your pets are contained because that’s when a lot of animals can make their escape, when there are guests over who aren’t aware of animals slipping out of the doors and stuff like that. So you just want to be extra cautious, pay a lot of attention to your pets and make sure they’re safely confined.”

Along with soothing soundtracks, treats, and playtime, Imbert said there are also fashionable options for your furry friend to help stay calm. “Thundershirts were designed for pets’ sensitivity to loud noises such as thunderstorms, which is where their name comes from. It’s kind of like a shirt that hugs them. It creates a pressure on them, so it can be calming and comforting for them when something scary is going on or something distressing that’s noisy.”

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