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Jul 3, 2014 9:42 PM by Charlie Misra

Santa Maria Animal Shelter ready to take in more strays during holiday

While the Fourth of July is a fun time for many, it can be a scary time for pets and their owners.

This is the busiest time of year for local animal shelters because pets, primarily dogs, often run from home, frightened by loud fireworks.

The Santa Maria Animal Shelter said they're starting to double their capacity. They said they'll do whatever it takes to make room for animals that run away.

"Anytime those loud bangs are occurring, the animals tend to get scared," said Santa Maria Animal Shelter's Stacy Silva.

The staff expects to take in 20-30 strays during the 3-day holiday weekend. That's more than they typically get in a week.

Rolando Lemus knows how difficult it can be to take care of a pet on the Fourth of July.

"You have to take care of them because they kind of just freak out," said Lemus. "They lose themselves for the night I guess."

He's had several dogs run away around the holiday, that have never returned.


"It's really kind of heart-breaking to see," said Lemus. "The fact that they get so scared. And they don't even know why. They don't know what to do. I don't wish that on anybody because it's like losing a best friend. You know, you grow up with one, you lose 'em, and it's never the same."

Lemus came to the shelter this morning with a lost dog, hoping to help a fellow pet owner.

"Seeing somebody find their animal when it's been missing and they're feeling that despair, coming into the shelter and realizing their animal is safe and their animal is here, and they can take him home that same day is an extremely rewarding experience," said Silva.

Safety tips from Santa Barbara County Public Health Department:
Make sure your dog or cat is wearing a current license tag and also a personal tag.
Do not bring your pet to a fireworks display.
Keep them inside and leave the tv or radio on to distract them.
Soothing noises could help keep them calm.
Walk your dog before the fireworks start.
If your dog or cat is especially noise sensitive, consider having someone stay home with them or taking them to a boarding facility, or discuss tranquilizers with your vet.

If you lose your pet, go to your nearby shelter and also check surrounding areas of your home like bushes and garages.

The Santa Maria shelter is expecting Saturday to be just as busy as Friday night, because some communities are having their fireworks shows on the fifth.

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