Loud fireworks and raucous holiday parties can easily spook pets on the Fourth of July, and animal-advocacy groups again this year urged Southland residents to protect their furry friends on the holiday to ensure they don’t run away and wind up in shelters.

Dogs and cats can escape from small openings in houses and fenced yards in search of a safe place and may be injured in traffic or wind up in a crowded local shelter, officials warned.

Animal-care experts offered a series of tips aimed at protecting pets:

  • Make sure pets have up-to-date identification tags and, if possible, a microchip registered with owner contact information.
  • Keep pets inside in an enclosed, comfortable place with some “white noise” for distraction.
  • If pets must go outside, make sure gates and fences are very secure.
  • Create a safe space for pets at home, off limits to guests, with windows closed and covered, and plenty of water and food.
  • Be sure to leave animals with a responsible party if leaving town for the holiday.

Owners who do lose their pets, despite all precautions, are urged to quickly post signs in the neighborhood and go to the city or county animal shelter nearest to where the animal was last seen with a photo and detailed information about the dog or cat. 

The Los Angeles city Department of Animal Services noted that dogs and cats aren’t the only pets that can be spooked by fireworks. Officials said horses can also be impacted by the loud noises and potentially bolt from stables.

The city urged owners to consider moving horses indoors if a fireworks display is planned nearby. If horses remain outside, owners should ensure all fences and gates are secure. Horses who are stabled should have a thick bed with “high banks,” and have plenty of hay to keep them occupied. 

Owners can also play music or leave a radio on to help keep horses calm. Ear covers can also be used to help reduce noise. 

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