Animal Rescue New Orleans: Keep pets safe and calm during fireworks

Fireworks, particularly those put on haphazardly by neighbors and friends, send shivers down canine and feline spines. Animal shelters take in more runaway pets at Fourth of July than at any other time of the year.

Never take a pet to any event with fireworks. Low frequency, percussive noises such as fireworks — and summer thunderstorms — trigger wild fear in 20 percent to 30 percent of dogs. Well-behaved pets may become aggressive, destructive and unpredictable. Noises from fireworks can also hurt your cat’s or dog’s sensitive ears.

If your pet hates fireworks, get ready ahead of time. Choose the darkest or most cozy room, preferably with few or no windows. Close windows, blinds and curtains, leaving the air conditioner running.

If the pet is not in a crate, make sure there is a hiding place, such as a closet or space under a bed. Leave TV, radio, stereo playing to distract your pet. For a dog, consider buying a wonderful large super hard (safe) natural bone from the pet store to keep your pet busy and distracted. Or engage the pet in play with a rope toy or ball. Your pet will be much more secure if you can stay at home with them for most of the time.

Never cuddle or scold your pet when they become frightened. Cuddling will reinforce fearful behavior, and scolding will confuse and further frighten the pet.

You should ignore the noises and remain confident and unbothered by the noise outside. Instead distract the pet with a toy or a long-lasting chew.

Never leave your pets outside, even in a fenced yard, anytime when fireworks might be going off, even in the distance. Leash walking is recommended even in your backyard. A frightened pet will climb or jump a fence, bolt out a cracked door, or do anything to try to avoid the frightening sounds. Just to be safe, make sure your pet has a collar and ID tag on at all times.

Many find that pheromone-producing plug-ins work wonders with stress and anxiety in pets. Thundershirts or other anxiety wraps, which swaddle the animal snugly, also calm some dogs.

Talk to your veterinarian in advance for recommendations on safe alternatives to help avoid fear, anxiety and stress in your pet.

Have a happy and safe Fourth of July!

Upcoming events:

SATURDAY: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Palmer Park Art Market, ARNO Adoptables! Enjoy art, crafts, great food and drink, and meet adoptable pets. South Claiborne and South Carrollton avenues.

SATURDAY: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Care Cadet Camp Dogs adoption event at Clearview Mall, 4436 Veterans Blvd. For more information

SUNDAY: 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., Pet First Aid/CPR Course sponsored by LA/SPCA and taught by Red Cross certified instructor. $65, pre-registration required. Held at 1700 Mardi Gras Blvd. Call (504) 368-5191, ext. 154.

For seniors:

Over 55? Purina will pay adoption fee for approved applicants for a cat or a dog. Go to

Charlotte Bass Lilly is CEO of Animal Rescue New Orleans, a 501c3 nonprofit. ARNO operates a volunteer-based, no-kill shelter in the Elmwood Industrial section of Jefferson Parish and depends upon people from all over the country who have followed since Katrina. Contact ARNO at,, or leave a message at (504) 571-1900.