It is the noisiest day of the year, and one of the riskiest for pets.
Every Fourth of July, and the day after, animal shelters are inundated with dogs and cats that bolt their homes to flee the boom and flash of fireworks. Many lack identification and never are reunited with their owners.
The situation might be especially grim this year, with municipal shelters closed on the holiday and the day after and with outdoor temperatures likely to hit triple digits. The Sacramento Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals expects to take in many animals that have escaped yards or homes in the midst of holiday festivities, said spokeswoman Lesley Kirrene.
"Loud noises, bright flashes, the hot pavement. It's no place for dogs and cats to be," Kirrene said. "These things literally can drive animals to the point of insanity."
The best place for pets on Independence Day is inside the house, perhaps with soothing music on the radio or a wildlife program on TV, Kirrene said.
Even though the city and county animal shelters will be closed, animal control officers will be on the road, said city shelter manager Penny Cistaro. The SPCA will be closed Monday but open Tuesday.
Wednesday "will be extremely busy with people looking for their lost animals," Cistaro predicted.
Each of the shelters has a website with tools to help search for lost animals. Proper identification, including a tag or a microchip, make reuniting pet and owner much more likely, said Cistaro and Kirrene.
The SPCA and other experts offer the following advice to protect animals during the holiday and beyond:
Leave pets home when you head out to July Fourth celebrations and other summer events such as concerts and fairs.
Never leave your pet in a parked car during warm weather. The heat can kill them in minutes.
Make sure pets have access to fresh, cool water and shade.
If your pet strays from home, post fliers and ads, and visit animal shelters as soon as possible. At each shelter, provide a photo and description of your pet.
If you find a lost pet, take it to the nearest shelter and post notices and ads.