Fireworks frighten pets and disturb humans. It’s up to us to protect them

“Every night. Every. Night.”

That’s the shortest and most succinct of the many posts on the Long Beach Against Illegal Fireworks Facebook group berating the booms and bangs that have been terrorizing the pets of Long Beach residents as well as combat veterans and others suffering from PTSD. Also, just folks like you and me who just want a night of uninterrupted sleep.

Around this time every year, The Scratching Post tries to help humans living with animals keep their pets safe and sane from firework use in the city. But sheesh—they’ve been going off continually since May—May 2020, that is. Getting out of Dodge with the Dog Week has replaced the real meaning of Independence Day as July 4 has become the culmination of a string of celebrations of any occasion that people want to mark with insufferable noise: winning the World Series, losing the World Series, Mother’s Day, Groundhog Day (sure to affect climate change when the little guy won’t even come out of the burrow to look for their shadow) and moving out of their parents’ basement.

Lit-up signs warn that fireworks are illegal in Long Beach. Pleas on posters and yard signs advise that military veterans live nearby and ask that pyrotechnics not be set off anywhere. Ken Weiss and the Safety Squad’s PSAs were an impressive product of time and effort to educate people about the dangers of fireworks and their effects on animals and humans. They used cartoon episodes as a medium so that anyone could understand the message.

But if any of the efforts had a positive effect, it’s not noticeable. Scofflaws feel the need to set off fireworks—they like mindless excitement and might get a selfish, sadistic kick out of upsetting people. Anything you post or I write here isn’t going to shame them. So, again, it’s up to us to protect our pets, our neighbors and ourselves.

One organization doing that is the aforementioned Long Beach Against Illegal Fireworks, a growing group of fed-up folks who want legal action from the city and, of course, to collectively vent. The group has appealed to council members, the mayor and city prosecutor Doug Haubert.

“My eyes were really opened to this problem in a significant way last year,” Haubert said, referring to effects of fireworks on family pets described by members of Long Beach Against Illegal Fireworks in victim impact statements they’d sent him. “The people discharging illegal fireworks are causing real harm to some animals. People need to understand that all dogs are different just like all people are different, and the sounds and smells of fireworks to some dogs amounts to painful torture.”

Cats, too, of course, though the pyrotechnics seem to terrify more dogs than cats. Last year, Haubert’s office set up a portal for reporting illegal discharge of fireworks discharge to review evidence. This year, updated fines and penalties for setting off explosives will extend to holding landlords liable as well as their tenants and will include fees for storage of any confiscated pyrotechnics. Before this year, a police officer had to witness fireworks being exploded before issuing a citation. Now, other evidence that points to the person setting them off will be welcomed.

“Anyone who submits photos or videos of illegal fireworks discharge will have that evidence reviewed,” Haubert said. “Last year, we filed three criminal cases where people were caught on video setting off dangerous fireworks. These are the ones that are discharged into the air or sound like a bomb exploding. Those are the fireworks that also cause house and brushfires. We really need to put an end to this. There is no way our police force can patrol every street looking for illegal fireworks, especially as we get close to July 4. That’s why residents need to be involved.”

Which brings us back to the heart of the story—animals. It’s up to us to protect them as best as we can. My friend Brandy Gaunt, a cat rescuer who says whatever is on her considerable mind and damn the consequences, posted this on Lakewood and Long Beach Lost and Found Pets:

 

You have 15 days to:

  • fix that busted gate latch that you keep procrastinating on
  • get your dog a new collar and tags (please include your address and phone number on the tag. It’s so much easier to return a found dog when there is an address on the tag!)
  • make sure your dogs’ microchips are registered with your current info
  • get your dogs microchipped if they aren’t already
  • make a reservation at PetSmart pet hotel if you are going to go party so your dogs aren’t left home alone. They will need to be current on their vaccinations, so you will need time to get an appointment anyway. [Note: any approved pet hotel will do just fine as well, not just for partying but also if you decide to get out of town and can’t take the fur kid. Get those vaccinations done. If they’re vaxxed and you don’t have the paperwork, call the vet.]
  • get your dogs a vet appointment so you can get a prescription for anxiety medication (many vets are still hard to get into on short notice thanks to the pandemic, so you should act soon so they can get you in) [And one more from me: don’t self-medicate on the part of your dogs or cats. There’s enough advertised CBD oil to mellow out a dog park full of Jack Russell terriers, but your pet’s vet should be the one to advise and prescribe.]
  • A few from last years column include crating your dog, if they’re crate trained, and cover the crate with a blanket.
  • You can try Thundershirts for both dogs and cats—they’re pet-swaddling vests created to reduce anxiety. They run upward of $40 in price. I’ve never tried them on the cats, but people I know have used them for their pets and like them. Social-media posts recommend wrapping your pet in a snug-fitting shirt, an ACE bandage or any piece of material if the Thundershirt isn’t in your budget. There are videos online for the wrapping procedures.
  • Create as peaceful an environment as you can in your home. Play soothing music, and lower the blinds to block outside sights and sounds. If your pet seems anxious, spend time with them, speaking in a calm voice. Close your windows, which can be a pain if there’s no air conditioning, or put them in a room during explosion times with a loud fan running. Put in a favorite toy or an article of your clothing that they’re used to.
  • Some of the celebrations are returning this year. Please, don’t bring the dog. They likely won’t enjoy themselves and might run off. Shelters fill with pets every year who’ve run in terror from their humans—those are the lucky ones who don’t get injured or killed by vehicles. Please keep your pet inside during fireworks season. Hey, that’s all year now. Hope I’ve convinced you.

 

Virtually Pets

Several years running, Live Love Animal Rescue has sponsored Foster the Fourth, a period when the rescue’s volunteers mobilize people willing to foster dogs to help clear kennel space for the frightened ones that the animal control officers rescue from the streets. Not this year, though—frightened animals will probably continue to be brought in, but the pandemic, its aftermath and other things have put a kibosh on the rescue’s efforts.

“We won’t be planning a massive shelter pull this July,” said Angela Robinson, Live Love’s lead Woof Agent. “We are hoping to do some targeted shelter pulls to take large dogs out, but it’s going to depend somewhat on adoption returns—we’ve been getting hit hard with those requests for the last two weeks, unfortunately.”

If you can help clear the shelter for terrified animals, here’s an idea: adopt or foster a few of them, and keep them inside huddled under a blanket with you until the nonsense dies down. They’re all at Long Beach Animal Care Services along with a considerable number of other cats, dogs and rabbits whom you can check out here. The shelter’s adoptions and fostersare conducted through appointment only, so call 562-570-PETS or email [email protected] to make one!

Once more, access this link to report illegal fireworks.

Lab/pittie mix with long, pink tongue; a white chest and muzzle, and black everywhere else stands against a turquoise background.

Smitty (ID#A657311) is a 2-year-old Lab/pit bull mix, weighing 90 pounds. He’s young, big and energetic, and he’s ready to lap up life with that tongue and lick your face with it, too!

 

boxer/pittie mix with white muzzle, chest and legs and brown mask, ears, back and tail stands against a yellow backgrouns.

Miley (ID#A656951) came in as a stray. He’s a 50-pound pit bull, about 3 years old. He’s shy at first but warms up quickly!

 

German shepherd with black ears, muzzle and back and with tan legs and face stands against a blue background.

German shepherds are the best, and Chandler (ID#A657921) is a good boy! Another stray, he’s about 5 years old and weighs 70 pounds.

 

Dark-brown jindo with tan muzzle and paws stands against a pink background

Happy (ID#A592389) is a senior looking for someone with empathy and patience. Happy’s a 12-year old Jindo, about 35 pounds, who’d love to retire in a nice, quiet home. She’s come around to being a reserved kind of happy from being very scared—she’s still a bit cautious but is improving every day! If you put no pressure on her, she’ll come up to you in a friendly manner, take treats, and hang out by your side. Want to make Happy happy? Take her home, and it’s guaranteed that she’ll make you happy, too!

 

Help wanted, help given

Foster2Furever needs foster homes for large-breed dogs

If you love big doggies and want to help socialize one for a forever home, fill out the application here, and Foster2Furever will contact a respected rescue who’ll match you to a king-size lovebug. Big homes and big yards aren’t required—just big hearts and a big desire to learn. Contact Foster2Furever here with any questions.

Volunteer walkers needed for senior citizens’ dogs

Ida’s Walkers is a program of The Heart of Ida, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization serving the older-adult population in and around Long Beach. Ida’s Walkers offers dog-walking services to low-to-moderate-income seniors who are hospitalized, have limited mobility or are at risk of falling. If you want to help senior citizens keep their beloved pets as long as they are able to live at home, call the number on the graphic.

Fosters needed at Long Beach Animal Care Services

If you’ve always wanted a pet but aren’t sure if you’re ready for a lifetime (the animal’s) commitment, fostering might be a great way to go, especially with one or more of the kittens popping up during kitten season. Long Beach Animal Care Services now has a foster program aimed at saving some little lives and socializing them. Who knows—maybe one of those lives will change your mind about the not-ready-for-roommate thing.

Fix Long Beach low-cost pet-services clinics: 8 a.m.–5 p.m., Wednesday–Saturday, 1749 Magnolia Ave, Long Beach, services available by appointment at www.fixlongbeachpets.com.

Fix Long Beach has reopened and is taking appointments for low-cost spay/neuter, dental, vaccines and other vet needs for cats and dogs. Visit their webpage or Facebook page for details.

DIY Kitten Care Kits available free at Long Beach Animal Care Services

Kitten season has begun, and soon shelters and rescues will scramble to save their lives, get them fixed and get them adopted. It isn’t unusual to find nests of young, seemingly abandoned kittens during kitten season. It is a natural reaction to want to help, to save them. But before you jump in, consider obtaining a Kitten Care Kit made possible by Helen Sanders CatPAWS. For more information, please email [email protected].

Spay/neuter vouchers available at shelter

Long Beach Animal Care Services has spay/neuter vouchers available. They’ll take a healthy nip out of the cost of a procedure. Residents of any of the five cities served by the shelter can call (562) 570–7387 to request a voucher.

 Spay/neuter appointments available at SNP/LA

The Spay/Neuter Project of Los Angeles (SNP/LA) is back in business for free and low-cost spay/neuter services, and they’re extending the hours of their vaccination clinics. The San Pedro clinic will give shots between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. every third Thursday at 957 N. Gaffey St. Call (310) 574–5555 to see if you qualify for services.

If you can see the bottom of the kibble bag

Pets of the Homeless’s home page says it’s the only organization focusing only on providing food and care for pets belonging to homeless people. Businesses and other organizations across the country receive in-kind donations of food and other needs that the dogs and cats’ human families can pick up at outreach locations. The following Long Beach businesses will accept your donations:

Trendi Pawz, 3726 E. 7th St., Long Beach

Belmont Heights Animal Hospital, 255 Redondo Ave., Long Beach

Paw Shoppe Pet Center, Inc., 6416 E. Spring St., Long Beach

Food and supplies are available Mondays from 9:00 a.m. to noon and Saturdays from noon to 3:00 p.m at Beacon for Him Ministries, 1535 Gundry Ave. Long Beach; and Thursdays from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. at Christian Outreach in Action, 515 E. 3rd St., Long Beach, Donations will be gratefully accepted at these locations as well.

Adopt, adopt, adopt

Feline Fine in the Summertime adoption event: 11:00 a.m.–9:00 p.m. Saturday, June 26, and 11:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m. Sunday, June 27, Pet Food Express, 9220 Long Beach Blvd., Long Beach, adoption fees apply.

Masks off, kitty-cats! Join The Little Lion Foundation for the first big cat-and-kitten adoption event since before the pandemic. Find your perfect companion, whether it’s a kitten, two kittens, an adult or a sweet senior. Then, you can run around Pet Food Express and spoil them rotten!

 Pet Food Express Cat Adoption Center: 10:00 a.m.–8:00 p.m. weekdays and Saturdays, and 10:00 a.m.–7:00 p.m .Sundays., Pet Food Express, 4220 Long Beach Blvd, Long Beach, adoption fees apply.

This adoption center is a much-needed satellite operation of Long Beach Animal Care Services. Julie and her team pull adoptable cats—and ”adoptable,” to these guys, means any cat in a shelter kennel! The team socializes the kitties until they’re adopted, which takes less time than you could imagine.

 Helen Sanders CatPAWS adoption center: viewable daily during store hours, PetSmart, 12341 Seal Beach Blvd, Seal Beach, adoption fees apply.

Window-shopping is a neat pastime and likely has become more common during the pandemic. Helen Sanders CatPAWS has applied window-shopping to cat adoption. You can peer at several of the fine felines through the windows of the PetSmart adoption center in Seal Beach. Sadly, no ear scratching or chin rubs at this time, but volunteers can answer questions and provide you with adoption information! Be sure to wear a mask. You can find adoption applications and all the kitties here.

Links to loveables

The following pet-related businesses regularly feature cat, dog and rabbit adoptions. As as of now, adoptions are mainly by appointment. Fosters are also needed for kittens. Click on the links for each rescue in case of updates or changes. These organizations operate through donations and grants, and anything you can give would be welcome. Please suggest any Long Beach-area rescues to add to the list.

 

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Kate Karp is the Pets Columnist for the Long Beach Post covering the world of animal activism, pet adoptions and lots of cute cats. She’s called Long Beach home since 1994 and has written for the Post for about 10 years. Kate’s day job is as a copyeditor, which she discovered a love for during her 30-year tenure as a teacher. She describes the job as “like taking the rough edges off a beautiful sculpture.”
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