OLMSTED TWP., Ohio — Karen Schindler of Olmsted Township and her family won't soon forget what happened last Fourth of July after their family dog fled their home in terror and was significantly injured because of fireworks-related stress.
“It was the first Fourth of July that he had experienced," Schindler said. "As my husband opened the door, Moose shot out of the side of the house.”
Schindler said her son's 70-pound mixed-breed dog named Moose sustained serious injuries to his paws after he ran more than two miles from her home.
“Moose was terrified, I mean he was shaking, and he was running so hard and so fast, that he had literally worn the skin, it was in flaps on his paws," Schindler said. "He ran down our street and then he ran through woods, I mean he was lucky that that’s all that happened.”
Fortunately, Moose had identifying dog tags and alert neighbors came to the rescue, getting the dog back home a half-hour later. But Schindler said the incident left Moose in bandages for weeks, so she issued a warning to those illegally using consumer-grade fireworks in their neighborhoods this Fourth of July.
“It would be nice if people could contain it to just the Fourth of July and certain hours, so that people could make sure that their dogs are in a space that they don’t have to hear it," she said. “I don’t think it’s a hard thing to make a change and go for the fireworks that don’t make as much noise on behalf of the animals and people who are susceptible to problems from those loud noises.”
Sharon Harvey, President of the Cleveland Animal Protective League also referenced the use of "low noise" or "noiseless fireworks," which are gaining popularity.
“Noiseless fireworks do make some noise, but they rely on a beautiful light display, and less on the big booms and bangs that terrify animals and many people," she said.
Harvey said pet owners need to do all they can to protect their animals from the effects of loud fireworks.
"Pets have no idea that we have something to celebrate, and it’s pretty scary for them. Make sure they are inside, make sure a pet is not left tied up outside, that they are in a secure area," Harvey said. “You stay home with them, you absolutely should not take them to a fireworks display. You can also turn on some background noise that maybe will detract from some of the fireworks sounds, whether it’s music, or the TV, or a fan."
“Pets can become terrified, they might self-harm or self-mutilate out of their stress. They can break out of their crates and cages, and out of homes," Harvey said. “Once your animal is running at-large, they’re at risk of harm, being hit by cars, or never finding their way back home.”
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals issued its own warning about the impact neighborhood fireworks can have on pets, and issued the following precautions:
• Keep cats and dogs indoors. Never leave animals tethered or chained outside—they can hang themselves if they leap over a fence while trying to run from the noise. Animals can also injure themselves while trying to climb out of pens.
• Never take animals with you to watch fireworks displays! If you know in advance that there will be fireworks in your area, stay home with your animals and try to keep them calm.
• Close your windows and curtains. To help drown out the sounds, turn on fans and air-conditioning units as well as the TV or a radio that’s tuned to a classical music station.
• Purchase a ThunderShirt, which can help your dog or cat cope with the stress of the fireworks. Other ways to keep animals calm include playing specially designed music from iCalmPet and giving them a natural supplement called melatonin, which is available at your local health-food store. (Consult your veterinarian first.)
• Make sure that your animal companion is micro-chipped and wearing a collar or a harness with an up-to-date identification tag, just in case.
• If it’s cool enough outside, take dogs for a long walk or a romp in the dog park before fireworks start to help tire them out.
• If you witness someone setting off illegal fireworks, call the authorities right away.
Meanwhile, the Ohio Legislature is considering Senate Bill 113, which would legalize the use of consumer-grade fireworks on certain days.
Ohio's current fireworks regulations allow consumers to purchase and possess consumer-grade fireworks, but requires consumers to transport them out of state within 48 hours.
The so-called "liar's law" would be repealed and replaced with a provision allowing consumers to light the fireworks during major holiday periods, including New Year's Day; Memorial Day weekend; July 3rd, 4th and 5th; Juneteenth; Cinco de Mayo; and Chinese New Year.
Additionally, under Senate Bill 113, fireworks could be discharged on the Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays leading up to and following Labor Day weekend, New Year's Eve and Diwali.
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