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Lost pets wandering after fireworks? Consider avoiding the shelter

Photo: Getty Images

Fireworks may be fun for humans, but not so much for our furry companions — with new research finding animal shelters see their biggest intake of lost pets during 4th of July celebrations each year. 

Surprisingly, the study published in ‘Frontiers in Veterinary Science‘ found more than 70% are discovered less than one-mile from their homes — with 42% only 400 feet away.

Lost pets better off with you than shelter, agency says

American Pets Alive! runs the Human Animal Support Services project, which suggests the best way to get lost pets back to their families is not through a shelter. Instead, they recommend holding onto a lost animal for at least 48 hours if you can. 

“In most cases, lost dogs simply aren’t going very far from home,” said Kristin Hassen, director of the project, in a blog post on the HASS website

Hassen said keeping lost pets for a couple days gives families a much better chance to find them than taking them to a shelter.

“And many shelters will provide food, supplies and support to those who can temporarily house an animal,” stated Hassen.

What you can do if you find a lost pet

  • Go to any vet to get the dog scanned for a microchip.  Contact the owner if the dog has a registered chip, or is wearing identification on their collar. 
  • Walk the dog around the neighborhood so their family can see them if they’re out looking. Knock on doors near where you found the pet and ask if they look familiar.
  • Hold the dog for at least 48 hours to give the owner a chance to locate them. Many animal shelters will offer dog-finders food and other supplies during this foster period.
  • Post the dog’s picture and where you found them on Nextdoor, Facebook, Craigslist, and other neighborhood social media platforms.
  • Put up found dog signs in the immediate area where you found the dog. 
  • Communicate with your local shelter about how else you can help. For example, if it takes longer than two days for the dog’s owner to be located, you may be able to foster the dog longer term. 

Hassen said doing any of these steps will “help prevent animal shelters from becoming overwhelmed with lost pets, and will help make sure that families searching for their dogs are able to find them.”

“We all want the same thing — for them to be reunited with their families,” she said.  

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