For at least one week before the 4th of July holiday and for several days afterwards, people and their pets had to listen to fireworks going off in their Visalia neighborhoods. And for pets that are frightened of loud noises, this was torture.
Our social media followers and our customers visiting the shelter all had the same lament and same plea for help –
“How do I make this holiday less stressful for my pets?”
Although we give the standard answers as every other animal shelter, humane society and SPCA in the country – keep your pet indoors, use the TV or radio to create sound in your home, visit your veterinarian, use the popular “Thunder shirts” – we were inundated with lost, scared pets. Last year, 213 pets arrived during the 12 days we measured. This year, that number rose to 268 pets arriving at our shelter, an increase of 55 pets or 25.8%. Most of these are dogs and puppies without any form of identification.
As we’ve done every year, we set up a triage of sorts to match lost pets with their owners. Several volunteers and staff members worked tirelessly to get pets back home. Social media was full of postings, including ours at www.facebook.com/valleyoakspcamissingandfoundpets.
We are happy to share that through our efforts we were able to get 37 or 14% of arriving pets back home to their owners. This is an increase of 17 pets compared to last year, when we were able to reunite 9% of lost pets with their owners. We anticipate some more will get reunited as people return from vacations to find their pet is missing.
We are also happy that we increased adoptions during this time as well, freeing up much needed space for the new arrivals. Forty-seven pets were adopted in the 12 days measured, compared to 34 last year.
If you love animals, Valley Oak SPCA strongly encourages you to help in our lifesaving efforts by doing the following:
- Microchip your pets.
- License your pets.
- Spay/neuter your pets. Your license fee is significantly lower. If your pet isn’t altered and arrives in our shelter, we must charge you a State of California Civil Penalty of $35 for owning an unaltered pet, and we must charge you a license fee if your pet isn’t licensed in the City of Visalia. An altered pet license is as low as $8 for cats and $18 for dogs. If your dog is not spayed or neutered, a license costs $75.
- Make sure your pet is wearing a collar with your phone number on it. Many Good Samaritans find lost pets and they will call you if your number is on the collar.
- Bring lost pets to our shelter. People looking for their pet will look at our shelter, not your home or your Facebook page, to reclaim their pet.
- If you must use fireworks, please only do so on the actual holiday. Because fireworks were rampant for so many days before and so many days after the 4th, we have many more animals to care for and try to reunite or re-home. Please help share this message.
“It is heartbreaking for our staff, volunteers and animal lovers to see the unnecessary suffering of pets and their owners this time of year,” said Valley Oak SPCA Executive Director Tami Crawford. “While not a fan of fireworks, I understand the love people have for them. I simply wish we could confine fireworks to only one night and within a specific time frame as the cumulative effect on pets is devastating for some families as they watch their pet suffer. And even worse, lose their beloved pet as it runs in terror; some getting hit by a car, some never being found again. We feel that grief and sadness with all of these pet families.”
For more information, visit www.vospca.org.