NEW Year’s Eve may be a time for celebration, but animal experts have urged people to keep their furry friends in mind on December 31.
Animal Emergency Service Underwood director Dr Alex Hynes says the holiday season is one of the most dangerous for pets, with fireworks one of the main risks owners should watch out for.
“New Year’s Eve into New Year’s Day is really the busiest 24 hours of the whole year for us,” Dr Hynes said.
“On the morning of New Year’s Day, our hospital is full of lost pets.
“Some are fine, but others have been injured because they’ve been hit by a car or caught in a fence.”
A Queensland Lost Pet Register spokesperson said the organisation also saw a massive increase of missing pets on New Year’s Eve.
“Terrified dogs are at a great risk of being severely injured or killed by cars as they run frightened by the fireworks,” the spokesperson said.
“They do not understand what is going on and to them it feels like they are in a war zone.
“In other cases, people in party mode will have guests over and quite often gates are left open hence the family dog escapes.
“It's a very distressing time for pets and owners and an overwhelming workload for volunteers on the Lost Pet Register, RSPCA shelter staff and vet clinics as we all work hard together to reunite these pets [with their owners].”
The spokesperson said pets should be placed in a familiar and secure environment such as a laundry or crate even if owners considered them to be calm and unlikely to run away.
“Even the most placid dog will jump a six-foot fence in terror,” the spokesperson said.
Dr Hynes suggested playing soothing music or leaving the television on to drown out the sound of fireworks.
If pets were extremely anxious, she said owners should even consider having someone stay home with them.
“Dogs can go through glass windows and jump high fences if they’re panicked,” she said.
“There’s such a lot of danger there, sometimes it’s not worth taking that risk.”
She added that taking dogs for walks earlier in the day could release energy and make them less anxious.
In the event of a missing pet, Dr Hynes said it was important to have owners’ contact details on the pet, with dogs ideally being microchipped.
The Queensland Lost Pet Register spokesperson also recommended contacting 24 hour vet clinics, the local council and the RSPCA, as well as local animal shelters.
“[Owners] should visit [their local shelter] in person, as the staff will be extremely busy and may not have processed their pet which means it won't be listed on the database at the call centre,” the spokesperson said.
“They should also put an old-fashioned sign up on their wheelie bin or fence if their pet is missing and also doorknock the neighbours as their pooch may be secured in a neighbouring yard.”
Dr Hynes also cautioned people hosting New Year’s Eve parties to keep an eye on their pets, especially around food, alcohol and intoxicated guests.
“The backyard barbecues are a really popular option on New Year’s Eve, and the kind of food that’s eaten at those barbecues can be dangerous, like onions which are toxic to dogs or wooden skewers which are extremely dangerous if swallowed,” she said.
“Even just fatty foods can cause gastrointestinal upsets.
“Whenever you’ve got hot plates on a barbecue, you can also get things like burns.”
Dr Hynes said that party guests should be advised not to give pets any food or alcohol.
“Maybe consider keeping [pets] somewhere out of the main part of the party, especially later in the night,” she said.
In the event of a missing pet, people can visit the Redlands Lost Pet Register at facebook.com/qlpr.redlands/.