DEAR JOAN: Last July 4, my good friend B went on vacation for several days, leaving her small dog, Peanut, to stay with a close friend who knew Peanut well.
Peanut was only 8 years old and in good health, but she was a “tripod,” having only three legs. B adopted Peanut after she was brought to a large animal shelter with a badly damaged front leg that had to be amputated, likely from being hit by a car.
I was a “dog socializer” at the shelter and enjoyed walking Peanut, even after she was adopted by my friend. Peanut was probably the most intelligent dog I’ve known in my nine years of being a dog volunteer.
On July 4, there were many illegal fireworks in the friend’s neighborhood. Fireworks are very stressful for dogs with their incredibly acute hearing, and as they don’t know what the explosions are. Peanut was very scared, and by Friday evening she was vomiting and had bloody diarrhea.
She was taken to the emergency vet, where she needed subcutaneous fluids as she was dehydrated, anti-diarrhea medicine, anti-nausea medicine and antibiotics. The vet said it was colitis, probably brought on by the stress of the fireworks.
Peanut was released at 3 a.m., and slept on the couch with B’s friend. Early Saturday morning, Peanut was rushed to the vet, but stopped breathing in the car and the vet couldn’t revive her. B’s other dog spent the next few days looking for her and grieving.
B, who works at the large animal shelter, says that July 5 is the busiest day of the year for shelters as so many pets and other animals run away from their homes on July 4, in fear because of the noise, and are brought into the shelters as strays.
Animal lovers, please, please, please discourage the use of fireworks in your neighborhood so that our pets and other animals don’t have to go through what Peanut had to, or run away from home.
— Peter Ross, San Jose
DEAR PETER: I beg 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, they’ve been going on for more than a month, which has Oakland Zoo animals stressed out, as well as many of the dogs in the neighborhoods where the fireworks explode through the night.
My dog is so upset by the noises that he freaks out even if they’re just on television.
I’m sure most, if not all, of the people celebrating the Fourth of July, birthdays, team victories and other special moments have no idea of the stress they are causing our pets. True, some dogs aren’t bothered; others are, and a dog shouldn’t have to suffer and die because of fireworks.
If someone could see the terror in dogs, hear their heavy panting and watch their constant pacing, the shivering and drooling, I believe they’d ditch the fireworks and find something less explosive to show their patriotism.
Dogs do not get accustomed to the noises and flashes. I join in Peter’s plea — talk to your neighbors and, in memory of Peanut, ask them not to use fireworks this year.
Morris writes for the San Jose Mercury News. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org