If you have a dog in your family, you probably realize that they can be a big baby sometimes. That is especially true when loud noises occur, such as thunderstorms. Of course, not every dog is afraid of thunderstorms but it can be confusing and we often feel sorry for them because of the fact that they get so frightened.
The same thing also happens one day out of every year. On July 4, people in the United States shoot off fireworks both publicly and privately. It can really be frightening for a dog but a group of people has decided to do something about it. No, they are not going to stop people from lighting off fireworks but they are going to do what they can to comfort the dogs who are in that stressful situation.
This occurred at the Maricopa County Animal Care and Control facility. Since they house many stray animals, they realize exactly how much stress fireworks can place on them. That is why Jose Santiago, a public information officer, put out a request to have volunteers come to their two shelter locations on the Fourth of July. It was his goal to ensure that the dogs were comforted during the celebration.
Santiago had the following to say, “Shelters can be a very stressful place for animals. When you add the loud noises of exploding fireworks, that makes them even more anxious. We asked ourselves, ‘What can we do to make this night as calm for them as possible?’”
Fortunately, there were plenty of people in the community who wanted to help. In fact, there were a total of more than 100 people who showed up at the shelter locations. The young children read their storybooks to the dogs and others even brought guitars or ukuleles to play them a relaxing tune.
Those who didn’t bring a musical instrument with them just sat with the dogs for hours and gave them some gentle reassurance.
“We could see as people talked to the dogs and stroked their fur, their eyes were getting heavier and heavier,” Santiago said. “Many would lay down right at their kennels’ edge and fall asleep. That right there speaks volumes about how important the human touch is for those animals.”
It is the policy that volunteers typically come in and play with or walk the dogs. They realize that the animals were going to be upset and that the shelter was the safest place for them that evening. When dogs hear fireworks, it often invokes a ‘fight or flight’ response. All of the dogs were tucked in their kennels safe and sound by 7 PM.
“We also had volunteers walking around spraying a bit of lavender oil [which promotes relaxation], and had classical music playing through the speakers,” Santiago said. “All of those things, in combination with the volunteers, really helped.”
It was known as a ‘Calming Canines’ event and although it was somewhat of a trial run, it seems as if they will be doing this on New Year’s Eve and again next year.
Not only were the dogs comforted, they were also introduced to people who might just take them home.
Santiago talked about how important it is to microchip your pet. If they happen to run because of fireworks, they can be identified more easily.
“We’re so grateful to the community for their help with this,” Santiago said. “They’ve proven that when we put the call out, they’ll step forward time and time again. We’re hopeful that those who showed up to do this will be encouraged to volunteer throughout the year, and were also inspired to adopt.”