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Bombs bursting in air: July 4 nightmare for dogs

  • In this photo taken Friday, June 28, 2013, Monee Hauducoeur, from Upland, Calif., keeps a bowl of fresh water for her dog, "Summer," as she awaits in the shade to adopt another dog outside the City of Rancho Cucamonga Animal Care & Adoption Center in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. The western U.S. is bracing for a record heat wave this weekend. A strong upper-level ridge of high pressure developing over Southern California will generate torrid temperatures starting Friday, raising fears of heat-related illnesses and wildfires. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

    In this photo taken Friday, June 28, 2013, Monee Hauducoeur, from Upland, Calif., keeps a bowl of fresh water for her dog, "Summer," as she awaits in the shade to adopt another dog outside the City of Rancho Cucamonga Animal Care & Adoption Center in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. The western U.S. is bracing for a record heat wave this weekend. A strong upper-level ridge of high pressure developing over Southern California will generate torrid temperatures starting Friday, raising fears of heat-related illnesses and wildfires. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

  • In this photo taken Friday, June 28, 2013, A Summer adoption banner is seen next to a 4th of July fireworks events at City of Rancho Cucamonga Animal Care & Adoption Center in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. The center, 45 miles east of Los Angeles, is on the same grounds as LoanMart Field, home to the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, a Los Angeles Dodgers baseball farm team. Saturday night home games end with fireworks shows. Classical music is  played throughout the center beginning in the early evening on nights with fireworks. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

    In this photo taken Friday, June 28, 2013, A Summer adoption banner is seen next to a 4th of July fireworks events at City of Rancho Cucamonga Animal Care & Adoption Center in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. The center, 45 miles east of Los Angeles, is on the same grounds as LoanMart Field, home to the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, a Los Angeles Dodgers baseball farm team. Saturday night home games end with fireworks shows. Classical music is played throughout the center beginning in the early evening on nights with fireworks. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

  • In this photo taken Friday, June 28, 2013, Volunteer Melissa Koury, 29, plays with a dog on to keep him cool at City of Rancho Cucamonga Animal Care & Adoption Center in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. The western U.S. is bracing for a record heat wave this weekend. The center, 45 miles east of Los Angeles, is on the same grounds as LoanMart Field, home to the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, a Los Angeles Dodgers baseball farm team. Saturday night home games end with fireworks shows. Classical music is  played throughout the center beginning in the early evening on nights with fireworks. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

    In this photo taken Friday, June 28, 2013, Volunteer Melissa Koury, 29, plays with a dog on to keep him cool at City of Rancho Cucamonga Animal Care & Adoption Center in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. The western U.S. is bracing for a record heat wave this weekend. The center, 45 miles east of Los Angeles, is on the same grounds as LoanMart Field, home to the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, a Los Angeles Dodgers baseball farm team. Saturday night home games end with fireworks shows. Classical music is played throughout the center beginning in the early evening on nights with fireworks. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

  • In this photo taken Friday, June 28, 2013, Howey, a one-year-old Terrier mix, keeps its cool at a one of the pools set by volunteers ahead of the 4th July celebrations at City of Rancho Cucamonga Animal Care & Adoption Center in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. The western U.S. is bracing for a record heat wave this weekend. A strong upper-level ridge of high pressure developing over Southern California will generate torrid temperatures starting Friday, raising fears of heat-related illnesses and wildfires. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

    In this photo taken Friday, June 28, 2013, Howey, a one-year-old Terrier mix, keeps its cool at a one of the pools set by volunteers ahead of the 4th July celebrations at City of Rancho Cucamonga Animal Care & Adoption Center in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. The western U.S. is bracing for a record heat wave this weekend. A strong upper-level ridge of high pressure developing over Southern California will generate torrid temperatures starting Friday, raising fears of heat-related illnesses and wildfires. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

  • In this photo taken Friday, June 28, 2013, Dr. Michele Toomoth, the shelter veterinarian holds Bella Boo, a sensitive five-year-old Chihuahua, next to a calendar posting of the 2013 season fireworks  at City of Rancho Cucamonga Animal Care & Adoption Center in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. The center, 45 miles east of Los Angeles, is on the same grounds as LoanMart Field, home to the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, a Los Angeles Dodgers baseball farm team. Saturday night home games end with fireworks shows. Classical music is  played throughout the center beginning in the early evening on nights with fireworks. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

    In this photo taken Friday, June 28, 2013, Dr. Michele Toomoth, the shelter veterinarian holds Bella Boo, a sensitive five-year-old Chihuahua, next to a calendar posting of the 2013 season fireworks at City of Rancho Cucamonga Animal Care & Adoption Center in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. The center, 45 miles east of Los Angeles, is on the same grounds as LoanMart Field, home to the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, a Los Angeles Dodgers baseball farm team. Saturday night home games end with fireworks shows. Classical music is played throughout the center beginning in the early evening on nights with fireworks. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

  • In this photo taken Friday, June 28, 2013, Monee Hauducoeur, from Upland, Calif., keeps a bowl of fresh water for her dog, "Summer," as she awaits in the shade to adopt another dog outside the City of Rancho Cucamonga Animal Care & Adoption Center in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. The western U.S. is bracing for a record heat wave this weekend. A strong upper-level ridge of high pressure developing over Southern California will generate torrid temperatures starting Friday, raising fears of heat-related illnesses and wildfires. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
  • In this photo taken Friday, June 28, 2013, A Summer adoption banner is seen next to a 4th of July fireworks events at City of Rancho Cucamonga Animal Care & Adoption Center in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. The center, 45 miles east of Los Angeles, is on the same grounds as LoanMart Field, home to the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, a Los Angeles Dodgers baseball farm team. Saturday night home games end with fireworks shows. Classical music is  played throughout the center beginning in the early evening on nights with fireworks. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
  • In this photo taken Friday, June 28, 2013, Volunteer Melissa Koury, 29, plays with a dog on to keep him cool at City of Rancho Cucamonga Animal Care & Adoption Center in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. The western U.S. is bracing for a record heat wave this weekend. The center, 45 miles east of Los Angeles, is on the same grounds as LoanMart Field, home to the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, a Los Angeles Dodgers baseball farm team. Saturday night home games end with fireworks shows. Classical music is  played throughout the center beginning in the early evening on nights with fireworks. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
  • In this photo taken Friday, June 28, 2013, Howey, a one-year-old Terrier mix, keeps its cool at a one of the pools set by volunteers ahead of the 4th July celebrations at City of Rancho Cucamonga Animal Care & Adoption Center in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. The western U.S. is bracing for a record heat wave this weekend. A strong upper-level ridge of high pressure developing over Southern California will generate torrid temperatures starting Friday, raising fears of heat-related illnesses and wildfires. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
  • In this photo taken Friday, June 28, 2013, Dr. Michele Toomoth, the shelter veterinarian holds Bella Boo, a sensitive five-year-old Chihuahua, next to a calendar posting of the 2013 season fireworks  at City of Rancho Cucamonga Animal Care & Adoption Center in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. The center, 45 miles east of Los Angeles, is on the same grounds as LoanMart Field, home to the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, a Los Angeles Dodgers baseball farm team. Saturday night home games end with fireworks shows. Classical music is  played throughout the center beginning in the early evening on nights with fireworks. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

Liberty is loud and a lot of dogs have problems with those Fourth of July sounds of freedom, Erika Gamez said. She should know – she takes care of more than 150 at work and five at home.

Come tomorrow, the 150 dogs, 150 cats and all the other creatures at California’s Rancho Cucamonga Animal Care and Adoption Center will be moved inside the buildings, said Gamez, the shelter’s animal care supervisor. Classical music will be played throughout the center in the early evening to soothe animals that have sensitive hearing and can’t tolerate loud noise.

Once the booming starts, it gets noisy inside with a cacophony of barking, whining and crying as some dogs panic about the fireworks and others freak out because of their spooked shelter mates. The cats don’t seem to mind fireworks, but get stressed at all the commotion. “It’s a trickle-down effect,” Gamez said.

Similar scenes will play out in homes, backyards and public parks across the country, leading some anxious hounds to fly the coop, which explains why more lost dogs are turned in to shelters on July 5 than any other day of the year. Dogs that can’t escape could hurt themselves in other ways trying to seek shelter from the thundering sounds that could last days as fireworks are launched throughout the weekend.

At the Rancho Cucamonga facility, employees will handle 20 to 30 more dogs than usual that day, Gamez said. She has scheduled extra employees.

Because July 4 is on a Thursday this year, fireworks shows will be spread over three nights. Add fireworks bought from booths in many cities across the country and it promises to be a long, booming weekend.

Dogs have more sensitive ears than humans do and while some dogs don’t appear to mind the noise, others will bark, whine, howl, hide, cower or run into furniture and walls, said Dr. Melissa Bain of the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine’s Clinical Animal Behavior Service.

When she was an animal control officer, Dr. Kate Hurley, now director of the Koret Shelter Medicine Program at Davis’s Center for Companion Animal Health, said she saw dogs jump through plate glass windows when fireworks went off. She handled other dogs that jumped fences, slipped leashes and broke through doors.

No one can explain why one dog will hide and another will bolt, Bain said.

Gamez and her crew get a lot of practice with fireworks in Rancho Cucamonga. The center, 45 miles east of Los Angeles, is on the same grounds as LoanMart Field, home to the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, a Los Angeles Dodgers baseball farm team. Saturday night home games end with fireworks shows.

At the shelter, field officers will be stopping by from time to time to make sure all is well.

Experts say you can prevent a personal doggie drama from becoming a tragedy by taking some simple steps:

∎ Take a walk and wear your dog out before sundown.

∎ Plan on staying home with your pet when fireworks shows are scheduled nearby.

∎ Close the doors and windows, turn on the television, music, fans or any other noisy devices to try to drown out the noise and percussion of the explosions.

∎ Just sit with the dog. Don’t force cuddling, because fear can turn some animals aggressive. Have treats available, but most dogs won’t eat through fireworks.

∎ Leaving a dog in a crate or cage may not protect it. Dogs can chip their teeth and break their nails on cages.

∎ If a pet doesn’t have a microchip or an ID tag with updated information, get that before the fireworks start.

Gamez plans to spend tomorrow on the floor of her Fontana, Calif., home with her five dogs, lots of familiar noise in the background, their favorite toys all around and a bag of special dog treats in her lap, she said. Fireworks are legal in Fontana, so she expects noise for the next couple of weeks.

If a dog does get lost, owners should check shelters for 60 miles around, said Janet Winikoff, director of education for the Humane Society of Vero Beach and Indian River County in Vero Beach, Fla. When truly scared, dogs can travel miles, she said.

Make use of social media to find lost pets, she added.

If all else fails, “your dog might be better off on medication,” Bain said.

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