Forsyth County Animal Services prepares for busiest time of the year

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- As people start setting up and celebrating the Fourth of July, it's important to remember it can be a scary time for pets.

Some pets will run away because they don't like the booming noises of firecrackers or fireworks.

It's the busiest time of year for animal shelters.

Nationwide, shelters see about a 30% increase of runaway dogs.

Between July 5-6, 2018, the Forsyth County Animal Services picked up 43 dogs. That's more than twice their normal daily rate.

And for shelters already at capacity, it can be a big problem.

"This is Happy. We just adopted her. We're going to name her Carey because we have another dog named Mariah," said Alex Kitchens-Law. *

Carey found her new home with Kitchens-Law just in time for America's birthday.

It's a cause for celebration, but they're going to do it the safe way.

They're just going to "...do a cookout, or a pool party and hang out with the dogs," Kitchens-Law said. "We probably won't do any fireworks."

With fireworks and firecrackers lighting up the sky and ground, some pets get scared.

"There's a worry to have about fireworks because they sound just like gunshots," Kitchen-Law said. "You never know what kind of dogs come into the Humane Society or the animal shelter, or knowing what past they've had. And anything loud could scare dogs."

Captain Van Loveland with Forsyth County Animal Services agrees and says it's a big problem.

"They can take off running. If they're in a fence, they can jump a fence. They can dig a hole under it," Captain Loveland said. "A lot of owners don't understand what a dog can do when they're in that heightened fear with noises."

Many dogs get picked up and put into cages.

In the hours after the Fourth of July, even more will pile in,

"We typically take in about [10] dogs a day. So if you see a 30% increase, you're looking at another 10-15 dogs, which is a lot for a shelter to take in," Captain Loveland said.

And for shelters that just can't take anymore dogs, it often leads to a difficult decision.

"The unfortunate thing is the euthanasia rates typically go up around that time as well," Captain Loveland said. "Because we can't reunite pets with their owners and we can only hold so many pets here at a time."

In the end, everyone has the same goal.

"We would like to see the happy reunion with the animal with their owners," Captain Loveland said.

Just like with Kitchens-Law and Carey.

"For a couple of July 4ths, she'll be spending time with me," Kitchens-Law said.

So how can you make sure your pet stays with you?

Captain Loveland suggests having pets micro-chipped and making sure the contact information is up to date.

He also says to keep dogs inside, distract them with treats or other noises and keep them away from fireworks.

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