Volunteers spend their Fourth of July comforting scared shelter dogs


While many humans anticipate barbeques and fireworks to celebrate the Fourth of July, animals will have a much less enjoyable time. The sound of fireworks can startle dogs, so their owners make an attempt to calm them down.

But what about the dogs who don’t have someone to give them headphones and an iPad, for example? This is the unpleasant reality for many dogs in shelters this week, who will be terrified as they wonder what all the excitement outside is about.

Fortunately for them, one group of volunteers has started an unusual new holiday tradition.

Workers at Maricopa County Animal Care and Control in Arizona waited for the anticipated hysteria that the scheduled fireworks show would generate as the Fourth of July neared last year.

“Shelters can be a very stressful place for animals,” Jose Santiago, MCACC’s public information officer, told The Dodo. “When you add the loud noises of exploding fireworks, that makes them even more anxious.”

“We asked ourselves, ‘What can we do to make this night as calm for them as possible?’”

The idea was to invite volunteers to come to the shelters on July 4th to keep the canines company, dubbed “Calming the Canines.”

Hundreds of people spent their holidays comforting the pets, and it was a huge success.

Others brought instruments and played music, while others read stories. As the fireworks began, the volunteers went all out to make the shelter a safe haven for the dogs.

“We also had volunteers walking around spraying a bit of lavender oil [which promotes relaxation], and had classical music playing through the speakers,” Santiago said. “All of those things, in combination with the volunteers, really helped.”

He explains that dogs react strongly to fireworks because of their sound perception: “Dogs in particular can hear noises at a much louder decibel than we do,” Santiago told KJZZ. ““During any festivities where fireworks are going off the dogs can hear them louder, closer than the average person can and it can make them uncomfortable… They’re unfamiliar with what that sound is.”

The volunteers’ soothing efforts, on the other hand, made a significant difference, entirely settling the dogs.

“We could see as people talked to the dogs and stroked their fur, their eyes were getting heavier and heavier,” Santiago told The Dodo. “Many would lay down right at their kennels’ edge and fall asleep. That right there speaks volumes to how important the human touch is for those animals.”

Santiago also hopes that the bonding would encourage others to adopt the dogs.

Following the success of the 2018 event, MCACC replicated it on New Year’s Eve (complete with fireworks) and will do so again this Fourth of July. Calming the Canines appears to have become something of a custom.

“We’re so grateful to the community for their help with this,” Santiago said. “They’ve proven that when we put the call out, they’ll step forward time and time again.”

So, if you’re in the Maricopa County area this Fourth of July, try stopping by to play a song for a scared dog—it might just make all the difference.

“It was so so awesome because the dogs absolutely love the attention and were focused on the people and not the fireworks going on outside,” Amy Engel, an attendee at last July’s event, wrote on Facebook.

It’s really inspiring to see how these people spent their holiday season assisting shelter puppies. Share this story to help spread the word about this wonderful news!

Source: The Dodo,Facebook/Amy Engel,KJZZ,Maricopa County area,Maricopa County Animal Care & Control

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