Shelters see increase in lost pets after holiday weekend

Local News

Local animal shelters say they are seeing an increase in pets following the Fourth of July weekend.

Right now, it can get loud inside the dog shelter at the Regional Center for Animal Care and Protection, or RCACP.

“It’s a very stressful environment,” said Melinda Rector, RCACP acting director of operations. “It’s stressful for the dogs. It’s stressful for the staff.”

The shelter is operating at capacity, Rector said, with 90 dogs and 139 cats. The RCACP sees a spike in lost animals after the Fourth of July weekend. A big reason they run off, she said, is trying to escape the loud sounds of fireworks.

“They get really scared,” Rector said. “They will break their leashes. They will try to get out of the house. It’s terrifying for them.”

While some of the pets brought in have been reunited with their owners, others are still waiting to find a home, Rector said. It’s a busy time the shelter prepares for every year, she added.

“Prior to July the 4th, we had an adoption event prior to that to try to empty out the shelter,” Rector said. “For the whole month of June, the dogs were able to be adopted for free. Cats are usually free, too.”

“Just this week, we received a call from several shelters saying, ‘Hey, we need help. Do you guys have some room?'” said Sylvie Peterson of the Roanoke Valley SPCA.

Other animal rescue groups like Peterson’s help crowded shelters by taking in pets that are available for adoption. But anyone can help by giving an animal a forever home, Peterson said.

“Every pet adopted results in another space available to help another pet find a home,” she said. 

“These animals need you,” Rector said. “And they are so thankful to have somebody to call their own, and they know what it can be like not having a person to call their own.”

To avoid losing your pet when you’re around fireworks, it’s best to keep them inside, Peterson said. Even if your pet is chained or fenced in, she added, it could still find a way to escape.

If you’re interested in adopting a pet, officials suggest visiting a local animal shelter. For more information about the Regional Center for Animal Care and Protection (RCACP), click here. For more information about the Roanoke Valley SPCA, click here.

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