Pet safety important during Independence Day

Rhea County Animal Control Officers Katie Stout, left, and Cheyenne Swafford, right, pictured with animals from the Rhea County Animal Shelter,

Officials with the Rhea County Sheriff’s Department and the Rhea County Animal Shelter are urging pet owners to prepare in advance for Independence Day festivities.

Rhea County Animal Shelter Director and Animal Control Officer Cheyenne Swafford warned on Tuesday that fireworks can be frightening and even dangerous to animals.

“A lot of people don’t realize that loud noises in general can be very frightening to pets,” Swafford said. “In particular, fireworks can be even more frightening with the burning smell and bright lights coupled with the loud noises.”

Animal shelter officials said that the Fourth of July season often sees an increase in the amount of lost pets brought to the shelter, due to those pets getting scared of fireworks and running away.

“If there are fireworks being used around you, it’s a good idea to keep your pet in a quiet place away from Fourth of July activities,” Swafford said. “If you’re traveling for the holiday, make sure to work out in advance a place where you can keep your pet safe, and we recommend not taking pets to fireworks celebrations at all.”

Swafford added that older pets can often be more susceptible to becoming frightened due to fireworks.

The American Veterinary Medical Association [AVMA] also urges pet owners to keep an eye on their pets after the festivities. The AVMA urges pet and livestock owners to check your yard for fireworks debris before allowing pets outside to play or relax. Even if you didn’t set off fireworks yourself, AVMA officials said debris can make its way into your yard, where animals may pick it up to play with or eat.