Pets spooked by Fourth of July fireworks fill Austin area animal shelters

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WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — Fireworks on the Fourth of July frightened many animals in the Austin area, causing some to run away overnight and end up in pet shelters.

Margie Jones went Friday afternoon to the Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter looking for her beloved dog, Ohso. She said the three-year-old German shepherd got out Thursday night from her backyard in Leander after loud fireworks apparently spooked her.

“I miss her,” Jones said. “I’m sure if anyone has a missing dog, just try here. It’s the first place that you would get started in Williamson County.”

She filled out a lost animal report so that the shelter can contact her if any dogs matching Ohso’s description come in soon. She also looked through the kennels filled with stray dogs that came in overnight in hopes that Ohso would be there, but unfortunately she wasn’t.

The Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter ran an adoption special ahead of the Fourth of July to free up kennel space because fireworks always bring in additional strays. All dogs and cats are available to adopt for a discounted rate of $4 right now.

“Honestly, every time I keep checking the report, the numbers keep ticking up,” Misty Valenta with the Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter said. “So I’m expecting to be receiving strays all day today and all through the weekend.”

At the Austin Animal Center, 53 stray pets came in Friday morning during the first three hours of business alone — a spike more than likely tied to fireworks. The shelter had a total intake of 98 animals by the end of the day.

“We want to encourage people that we have passed the fireworks stage already, so we really want to make sure people know where to come find their pet,” said Jennifer Olohan, the communications and media manager at the Austin Animal Center. “As the municipal shelter for the City of Austin, always come here first.”

Back in Williamson County, Jones echoed how many families feel after the holiday right now, saying that what she wants is plain and simple.

“To find Ohso like ASAP,” she said. “I miss her.”

Shelter workers said pet owners should always check public intake shelters first for their lost animals. If that doesn’t work, social media and other neighborhood sites may help spread the word because pets are often found or picked up less than a mile from their homes.

The Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter is also encouraging people with lost pets to download and post on the Finding Rover app, which uses facial recognition to help reunite animals with their owners.

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