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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Progressives and the Flag • Fourth of July Fireworks Are No Picnic for Pets

- Progressives and the Flag
    ...throughout U.S. history, many American radicals and progressive reformers have proudly asserted their patriotism. To them, America stood for basic democratic values -- economic and social equality, mass participation in politics, free speech and civil liberties, elimination of the second-class citizenship of women and racial minorities, a welcome mat for the world's oppressed people. The reality of corporate power, right-wing xenophobia, and social injustice only fueled progressives' allegiance to these principles and the struggle to achieve them.
    Most Americans are unaware that much of our patriotic culture -- including many of the leading symbols and songs -- was created by people with decidedly progressive [even socialist] sympathies....

Fourth of July Fireworks Are No Picnic for Pets
by Ledy VanKavage · 2010-06-25 From

Since I've become a responsible pet parent, my love for fireworks has waned. When I was kid, I loved the 4th of July almost as much as my favorite holiday, Halloween. My dad would buy tons of fireworks. We'd invite all the neighbors and their kids for a cookout. My friends and I would run around with sparklers, oblivious to the panicked pets around us. As soon as it got dark, the ka-booms and oohs-and-ahhs began. We didn't see the pets cowering in the dark or running away from home.

The 4th of July is the nadir of every year for animal shelter staffers. When you visit any animal shelter the week before the 4th, you can sense the dismay and frustration. Caring shelter workers know the reality: Pets are going to panic and end up in here. And because of the increased volume in lost pets, more dogs and cats will die, even in good animal shelters.  Microchipping would help reduce the deaths, but unfortunately few folks microchip their pets.

I was lucky enough to visit Salt Lake County Animal Services this week. They are a great progressive animal shelter, who has partnered with Best Friends Animal Society to start the Salt Lake County Pit Crew to increase American Pit Bull Terrier adoptions. They have free cat adoptions, hoping to reduce the number of wonderful cats and kittens that perish simply because they don't have a home. But when I was there, the air was palpable with dread that the 4th was coming.

The shelter's average intake is five dogs a day; by stark contrast, last year during the weekend of the 4th, they took in 73 dogs. With such a dramatic increase, it's easy to understand how the staff can get overwhelmed.

My husband and I have had our own direct experience with the terror that fireworks can induce in pets. One of our first dogs, a gregarious Lab mix named Trotsky, hated fireworks. Cliff and I didn't realize the extent of his fear, however, until we left him alone in our house with access to the yard during the festivities. We came home to a bloody dog and a demolished house.

My fellow blogger Clare Cassar had similarly horrific experiences on the 4th. When I told her of my fireworks-frenzy topic, she recalled spending an entire 4th of July evening in a closet with a dog that she was petsitting at the time, trying to calm her down. She also knew of  a friend's dog that got so excited it had a seizure and died during the 4th.
So during the 4th, let's all do our patriotic duty for pets and celebrate at home without the loud hoopla. Our loyal best friends need us.