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‘We watch them like we watch our kids:’ Central Oregonians talk about how they calm their pets during Fourth fireworks

(Update: adding video, comments by HSCO, KTVZ.COM Poll)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- With Fourth of July celebrations taking place across Central Oregon over the next few days, pet owners are gearing up for fireworks "freak-outs" by pets, some who will run away and need an assist to get back home.

The Humane Society of Central Oregon reported Tuesday having already received over 30 calls this past week regarding missing or runaway dogs due to fireworks, marking the busiest time of year for them.

They say owners should also practice caution with bringing pets to or involving them in certain events, such as the Bend Pet Parade, due to the heat.

It's no new challenge to Bend-area pet owners.

"We watch them like we would watch our kids," Toni Sawin said Tuesday.

Another Bend resident, Ellisse Dickey, said, "We have a closet that's kind of their safe space. We'll put some music on in there and give them lots of blankets, kind of set them up a nice cozy environment."

The Fourth a frightening and confusing time for pets.

Mark Drummond said, "We try to snuggle the dog, or have a cuddle under a blanket with the dog. I've actually sat in a bathtub in a bathroom with a closed door with a dog in the past."

Sawin added, "Maybe close the doors, close the windows.".

The Humane Society of Central Oregon recommends keeping a close eye on pets during the fireworks. 

HSCO Director of Community Partners Lynne Ouchida said, "Remember to keep your pets always in eyesight, on leash or safely contained in an interior room with TV music on. Never leave your dog unattended in the backyard, even if you have a fence."

Ouchida recommends keeping leaving music on and shutting windows to keep out the noise. 

"There have been stories, and we've heard of animals that have blown through glass when they're truly frightened," Ouchida said.

She reminds owners to double check their pets' microchips, make sure IDs/collar tags are current, or write contact info around the collar if they don't have a tag.

"Identification is the quickest way for us to reunite you and your pet," she said. "And if your animal is very frightened, definitely consult your veterinarian right now, to see if there's any medications that might be able to help."

"First and foremost, if you lose a pet call, report it to your local shelter, so that we can help reunite you and your pet as quickly as possible," Ouchida added.

Pet owners tell NewsChannel 21 the best thing to do is to get your dogs trained to loud noises early on.

Sawin said, "I came from kind of a hunting family, so we had loud noises periodically that kind of got them used to the 'boom' sounds - that might have helped."

Alistair Schwab said, "It's kind of like if you're going to run the vacuum for the first time in your house, running the vacuum, and then, you know, reassuring your dog that it's okay."

The Humane Society says its best to ensure the first experience is a positive and a pleasant one, to help alleviate any problems in the future     

If your pet gets loose during the weekend celebrations, make sure to call the Humane Society, or the nearest local shelter.

Here's Tuesday's news release from HSCO:

4th of July Pet Safety Tips

Humane Society of Central Oregon Prepares for Influx of Animals

Bend, OR (July 2, 2024)  The days surrounding the 4th of July is the Humane Society of Central Oregon’s busiest week of the year. Families need to be prepared to keep pets safe at home from the sounds of neighborhood and the professional fireworks displays that will take place on July 4 around 10:00pm at Pilot Butte State Park, the Deschutes County Fair & Expo Center in Redmond, La Pine Frontier Days, Prineville, and Madras.

There is a dramatic increase in lost and frightened animals due to the sounds of fireworks. If you lose or find a pet, report it immediately to your local animal shelter.

If you know that your pet is afraid of fireworks or thunder, now is the time to consult a veterinarian about options. When a pet runs away in fear, they can get disoriented and/or injured.  Local veterinary clinics report an increase in injuries caused by dogs hit by cars or trying to escape. 

The Humane Society of Central Oregon (HSCO) would like to offer the following tips to have a safe Fourth of July for your pet:

·    Current identification tags on your pet(s) ensures a safe and quick return. No ID tag? Write phone number on collar with permanent marker. Immediately report lost and found animals to the Humane Society of Central Oregon at 541.382.3537. 

·    Keep your pet(s) inside the home in a safe area or in a crate. Leave music or a television playing if left alone. Your companionship helps keep them calm.

·    Consider getting away from the fireworks to a quiet area in the mountains or desert. 

·    If your dog or cat is extremely fearful, consult your veterinarian before the fireworks begins. 

·    Never leave pets outside unattended, even in a fenced yard or on a tether. Dogs may chew through their tether, escape and become lost or become entangled in the tie-out, putting your dog at risk of injury or death.

·    Do not take your pet to fireworks displays.  The noise, sights and sounds are frightening.

·    Keep pets away from all fireworks to prevent burns, hearing loss or eye damage.  Safely dispose of spent fireworks.  If eaten, they may cause digestive problems.

·    Resist the urge to take your dog to Fourth of July celebrations where it will be too hot to leave your dog in the car and your dog may not be welcome.

·    4th of July gatherings can be stressful for a pet. Doors and gates left open allow pets to escape.

·    If you plan to go away for the weekend, identify your animal(s) with the phone number of the pet sitter or kennel. Make sure a pet sitter reports and reclaims your pet immediately at the Humane Society if lost.

·    Keep your veterinarian’s and the emergency clinic’s phone numbers handy in case of an emergency.

Immediately report lost and found animals to your local Humane Society.  Visit the animal shelter and view stray pets at the Bend shelter on-line at  Shelter space is limited during this busy holiday, so quickly reclaim your pet. 

The Humane Society of Central Oregon rents crates for only $5 a month to keep our pet safe and secure and sells Thundershirts, custom pet ID tags and provides free temporary tags.   

For information call the Humane Society of Central Oregon at 541 382.3537 or visit  The Bend shelter is open Tuesday – Saturday 10am – 5:30pm and closed to the public on the 4th of July. HSCO is located just south of Reed Market on 27th Street.

About the Humane Society of Central Oregon:

The Humane Society of Central Oregon (HSCO) has been serving the community since 1961, and endeavors to strengthen the human-animal bond by advocating and compassionately caring for animals. HSCO is a Socially Conscious Shelter that strives to ensure the best possible outcomes for homeless companion animals in our care and the community. At the core, HSCO works in collaboration with partners and the community to support the individual needs of people and their pets by providing access to thoughtful resources and services to improve the welfare of all vulnerable animals.  Learn more about HSCO by visiting

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Matthew Draxton

Matthew Draxton is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Matthew here.


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