DEAR JOHANNA: On July 4th, my good friend B took a vacation for several days, leaving her little dog, Peanut, to stay with a close friend who Peanut knew well.
Peanut was only 8 years old and in good health, but she was a “tripod” with only three legs. B adopted Peanut after she was taken to a large shelter with a badly damaged foreleg that had to be amputated, likely because she was hit by a car.
I was a “dog socialist” at the shelter and loved walking Peanut even after my friend adopted her. Peanut was probably the smartest dog I’ve known in my nine years as a volunteer dog.
On July 4th, there were lots of illegal fireworks in the friend’s neighborhood. Fireworks are very stressful for dogs with their incredibly acute hearing and not knowing what the explosions are. Peanut was very scared and on Friday night she vomited and had bloody diarrhea.
She was taken to the ambulance where she needed subcutaneous fluids because she was dehydrated, medication for diarrhea, medication for nausea, and antibiotics. The vet said it was colitis, likely caused by the stress of the fireworks.
Peanut was released at 3 a.m. and slept on the couch with B’s friend. Peanut was taken to the vet early Saturday morning but stopped breathing the car and the vet was unable to resuscitate her. B’s other dog spent the next few days looking for her and mourning her.
B, who works at the large animal shelter, says July 5th is the busiest day of the year for animal shelters as so many pets and other animals run away from their homes on July 4th for fear of the noise and are brought into the shelters as Strays.
Animal lovers, please, please, please advise against using fireworks in your neighborhood so that our pets and other animals don’t have to go through what peanut was used to or run away from home.
Peter Ross, San Jose
DEAR PETER: I ask my readers every year not to use fireworks – even the so-called legal ones make noise – but the explosions seem to get worse every year. This year, she’s been around for more than a month with the animals at Oakland Zoo stressed out, as well as many of the dogs in the neighborhood where the fireworks explode through the night.
My dog is so upset about the sounds that he freaks out even if they’re just on TV.
I’m sure most, if not all of the people who celebrate July Fourth, birthdays, team wins, and other special moments have no idea the stress they put on our pets. True, some dogs don’t bother; others are, and a dog shouldn’t suffer and die because of fireworks.
If anyone could see the terror in dogs, hear their heavy gasping, and watch their constant pace, tremors and drooling, they would drop the fireworks and find something less explosive to show their patriotism.
Dogs do not get used to sounds and lightning. I agree with Peter’s plea – speak to your neighbors and, in memory of Peanut, ask them not to use fireworks this year.
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