Keep Your Pets Safe Over Fourth of July

To us, fireworks are the sparkling embodiment of July Fourth. But to dogs, they truly are bombs bursting in air. The pops and explosions, raucous block parties and other loud noises during holiday festivities can scare dogs into leaping over or digging under fences to escape the thunderous blasts, leading them to get lost or injured.

More pets go missing over the Fourth of July weekend than any other time of year, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Many seasoned animal lovers know to keep their dogs inside, but many pets are still running away or getting killed by cars as they bolt blindly from the noise.

Luckily, social media is helping find increasing numbers of animals or drawing attention to their plight.

The hashtag #Lost4Dogs aims to raise awareness about lost pets with a selfie challenge. It turns the idea of going missing onto people, urging them to post photos on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter wearing signs that say they should be returned to the pets pictured with them. Then, they would challenge others to post a selfie or donate to the American Humane Association, best known for approving animal safety on TV and movie sets.

Whistle Labs Inc., a San Francisco-based maker of pet health and safety devices, is helping lead the campaign because "pets are members of the family, so experiencing only a few moments of loss is traumatic," even if they're found, company co-founder and CEO Ben Jacobs said.

Apps and online programs also actually locate lost dogs, ranging from GPS-enabled collars, which allow owners to track pets from their phones or computers, to apps such as Finding Rover, which uses facial recognition software to match photos of lost dogs to those in shelters. Plus, pet recovery services such as FindToto.com will call area shelters,...

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