The sliding glass door to their backyard was open, and a hole had been dug under their fence.
The Moores were gone for only four hours, but D.O.G., their 2-year-old, aptly-named white German Shepherd, was gone. Left on her own to face the tumult of fireworks and loud celebrations, she escaped, apparently to seek the familiar—her family—even if she had no idea where to look.
"From what we can tell, when D.O.G. heard the fireworks she freaked out and pooped on the floor inside—for the first time ever—then she opened the sliding glass door with her paw, and dug a hole outside our fence.... She went searching for us," said Moore, of Maitland, Fla.
The Moores' search for D.O.G. ended when she was found dead alongside a road where she was often walked.
Moore believes that D.O.G., who wasn't normally scared of thunder or other loud noises, panicked from the cumulative effects of the fireworks, the excited voices outside, and being left alone inside the house.
Leave Them At Home The Moores' tragic loss isn't unique. Pets often become frightened and frantic by the noise and commotion of Independence Day. In fact, animal shelters across the country are accustomed to receiving "July 4th" dogs—dogs who run off during fireworks celebrations and are rescued by animal control officers or good samaritans who take them to the safety of a local shelter.
Fortunately, preventing pet problems on Independence Day is possible by simply planning ahead and taking some basic precautions.
"With a little bit of planning and forethought, you can enjoy the excitement of the Fourth of July and know that your animal companion is safe, sound, and enjoying a little peace and quiet," said Nancy Peterson, an issues specialist with The Humane Society if the United States.
To protect your pet on the Fourth of July, take these precautions:
- Resist the urge to take your pet to fireworks displays.
- Do not leave your pet in the car. With only hot air to breathe inside a car, your pet can suffer serious health effects—even death—in a few short minutes. Partially opened windows do not provide sufficient air, but they do provide an opportunity for your pet to be stolen.
- Keep your pets indoors at home in a sheltered, quiet area. Some animals can become destructive when frightened, so be sure that you've removed any items that your pet could destroy or that would be harmful to your pet if chewed. Leave a television or radio playing at normal volume to keep him company while you're attending Fourth of July picnics, parades, and other celebrations.
- If you know that your pet is seriously distressed by loud noises like thunder, consult with your veterinarian before July 4th for ways to help alleviate the fear and anxiety he or she will experience during fireworks displays.
- Never leave pets outside unattended, even in a fenced yard or on a chain. In their fear, pets who normally wouldn't leave the yard may escape and become lost, or become entangled in their chain, risking injury or death.
- Make sure your pets are wearing identification tags so that if they do become lost, they can be returned promptly. Animals found running at-large should be taken to the local animal shelter, where they will have the best chance of being reunited with their owners.
From the HSUS. Updated June 23, 2009.