Animal shelters see Fourth of July spike in stray cats and dogs

07/06/2013 12:00 AM

07/08/2013 7:42 AM

Every year on July 5, and for a few days after, a trend takes place at animal shelters that does not always bring happy endings.

That trend is a spike in the number of stray dogs and cats brought into area shelters.

Many of the animals arrive there because they had fled in terror of the boom and crackle of Fourth of July fireworks and accompanying parties, said Gina Knepp, manager of the Sacramento city animal shelter.

"July is always one of the worst months of the year for us," she said.

Knepp's shelter, located downtown on Front Street, was running tight on space even before the July Fourth holiday. It was housing 330 animals before the rush on Friday, though 250 animals is ideal, she said.

On Friday, a steady number of dogs and cats were being brought in. The shelter had processed a combined 40 cats and dogs by 3 p.m. after a noon opening.

Knepp said anytime a holiday combines public gatherings and fireworks, the shelter sees high numbers of lost pets.

"January saw the highest numbers of dogs brought into the center – it was a horrible month," said Knepp of the New Year's holiday.

The rise in strays after the Fourth of July also has been a factor at Sacramento County Animal Care, which houses animals on Bradshaw Road in Sacramento.

"The three days after the Fourth – those are some of our busiest," said Dave Dickinson, director of the county shelter.

Last year after the Fourth of July, 69 dogs were brought in on one day.

"The average intake on a day is, maybe, up to 20 dogs," Dickinson said.

On Friday, there were "people lined up at the intake door looking for pets that they've lost," he said.

The shelter had not been open more than two hours before 23 dogs had been processed.

July is a busy month at shelters overall. The numbers have been rising year to year. In 2011 the county shelter accepted 451 dogs in July. That number jumped nearly 7 percent in 2012. Most of the increase was attributed to stray and confiscated dogs, according to shelter data.

Even higher were the stray dog numbers for May this year, when the county processed 559 stray dogs and an additional 160 puppies. "Luckily, a lot of people come looking for these animals, and a lot of these dogs go right back out and are reunited with families," Dickinson said.

But not all go back home – half of the dogs brought in are never picked up by their owners.

At the Sacramento SPCA, the intake activity was also brisk Friday. However, the SPCA could not say how many dogs or other animals had been taken in without an end-of-day tabulation, said spokesperson Tracie Popma.

Last year, 58 dogs were brought in between July 5 and 8, Popma said.

SEEKING A LOST PET?

Sacramento Animal Shelter, 2127 Front St., Sacramento, (916) 808-7387. www.cityofsacramento.org (click on Animal Shelter)

Sacramento County Animal Care, 3839 Bradshaw Road, Sacramento. (916) 368-7387. www.animalcare.saccounty.net

Sacramento SPCA, 6201 Florin Perkins Road, Sacramento. (916) 383-7387; www.sspca.org"

Call The Bee's Edward Ortiz, (916) 321-1071. Follow him on Twitter @edwardortiz.

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