‘Our animals are family:’ Kennewick officials give pet safety tips for Fourth of July

KENNEWICK, Wash. — The familiar booms and bangs of fireworks flashing across the night sky may be a celebratory spectacle for you and your loved ones — but chances are, your furry friend might not feel the same.

According to PetAmberAlert.com, a nationwide pet finder system, the number of missing animals increases by about 30% on the Fourth of July.

On average, PAA said between 30% to 60% of the animals are euthanized due to being unable to be identified or returned to their owners.

That’s why Dr. Sheila Erickson with the Horse Heaven Hills Pet Urgent Care in Kennewick is urging all paw-rents to keep an eye on their furbabies.

“Hands down, the most important thing is to keep them inside and keep them in a safe place where they can’t get spooked and run away,” Dr. Erickson said. “Today’s always a really big day where dogs get terrified and they run away, and we always see pets that are lost or hit by cars because they’ve just gotten frightened.”

She also recommends playing music, putting pets in quiet rooms, or giving them a vet-approved sedative.

Microchipping, however, is a crucial key in identifying animals if they do end up escaping.

That’s what Kaitlyn Dart, a Kennewick resident who works at a vet clinic, has relied on to help reunite families with missing pets for nearly a decade.

Universal microchip scanner in hand, Dart connects with owners who are either checking to see if their pet’s chip scans properly or residents who have found a stray on the street and want to find their rightful home.

“You feed them, you bathe them, you go on walks with them, you spend all this time with them. When they’re gone it can be really traumatic,” Dart said. “We’re seeing an influx this year, especially with the weather change that we had plus the fireworks going off.”

On Sunday, the day before the holiday, Dart said she ended up scanning “probably around 40 dogs.”

On Monday before noon, she could already count several who needed to be scanned.

“They can bring them to us at any time of night, day, whichever they choose to our personal home and we actually send them our address and we’ll scan them for a microchip,” Dart said. “If they have one, we’ll contact the company and go from there and see about getting them back home.”

If they are not microchipped, Dart said she will help provide resources and contact information for shelters and other rescues in Kennewick and the surrounding areas.

“Make sure that your pets have collars on with a tag. If they don’t have a tag, duct tape with your phone written on it is perfect,” Dart said.

To reach out to Dart, you can text or call (707)-980-4989.

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