ROCKETS’ RED GLARE: Shelters urge pet owners to keep pets indoors during holiday

Port Isabel-South Padre Press

Almost everyone loves a birthday party and there’s none bigger than America’s own birthday every July 4th. But all the pomp and circumstance can be an overwhelming and frightening experience for many pets, especially dogs.

The loud booms and flashes of light from fireworks can send canine companions into a panic, causing them to flee. The Laguna Madre region plays host to public fireworks displays every weekend during the summer months, and already pets have been found separated from their owners as a result.

“We are averaging at least two to three animals every weekend,” said Sherry Pindard, director of operations at Friends of Animal Rescue on South Padre Island. With public and private Independence Day celebrations expected to occur throughout the region, more pets could run away. “Please keep them indoors and keep them safe,” Pindard urged.

Port Isabel Animal Control Director Oscar Del Abra echoed that sentiment. “I have a schnauzer and he gets pretty scared when they have fireworks,” Del Abra said. He added that most pet owners do try to act responsibly  and keep their pets indoors. “Most of the people that live close to the bay try to keep them inside and try to do the microchip,” he said.

In the event an animal becomes separated from its owner, a microchip can be an invaluable tool to reunite them, Del Abra said. Additionally, the City of Port Isabel passed an ordinance in August 2011 requiring that all pets be microchipped, he said. “People can go into our animal shelter and have their animals (microchipped),” he said.  Port Isabel residents can have their pets microchipped at the Laguna Madre Humane Society Clinic for $25.

An ordinance that went into effect last year also requires that animals be spayed or neutered. Residents may qualify for a voucher that reduces the cost of the procedure from more than $200 for a pet, such as a large breed dog, to only $25. Del Abra said the City set aside $5,000 to help fund the low-cost spay and neuter service.

He reminded residents that failure to comply with the ordinance can lead to a citation. Residents are allowed 10 days to comply with a verbal or written warning before being assessed a fine.

Pindard further cautioned that hot beach sand can cause serious burns to the undersides of paws and suggested pet owners make use of specially made paw booties.

Both Pindard and Del Abra encouraged Laguna Madre residents to visit the shelters and adopt an animal.

Adoption fees at the Friends of Animal Rescue shelter range from $25 for cats to $85 for dogs, and include vaccinations, as well as spaying or neutering. Any animals that test positive for heartworm will also come with medication to treat the condition, Pindard said. The shelter is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Those interested in adopting a pet can call (956)772-1171.

The Isabel Y. Garcia animal shelter in Port Isabel offers free adoptions of both cats and dogs depending on the successful conclusion of a trial period which allows an animal to acclimate to its new home. The shelter also holds adoption drives from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. every Wednesday in the Walmart parking lot, Del Abra said. Currently, the shelter is seeking donations of bath towels, he said. People interested in adopting or volunteering can contact Del Abra at

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