Monday, July 2, 2012

Protect your Portland pets from fireworks

Liam the pug is hoping there will be no fireworks this year
"Oh, no. You're going to light things on fire AGAIN?"
Every year, it seems, I end up writing some sort of piece about the 4th of July. Last year, I even toyed with the idea of spending the holiday in Canada, since our neighborhood sounded so much like a war zone when the holiday arrived (see that rant here). I have no idea why people love to shoot things off on the 4th, and I have no idea why they start celebrating on the 2nd and take it through the 6th. But, I do know there are some things that Portland pet owners can do to fight back this year.

According to news reports (including this one), Portland Fire & Rescue has teamed up with the police department to crack down on illegal fireworks in the city. These are the things that fly up in the air, raining down sparks and crackles. They're also the things that cause big booms to rattle the windows and send pets scrambling. They've been illegal here for a long time, which means people could always be prosecuted for owning them, but this year is shaping up to be a banner year for fines. The fire and police departments claim that they're staffing up for the holiday and are preparing to hand out some pretty hefty tickets. A bottle rocket, for example, can cause a "patriot" to pick up a $1,000 fine.

So what can we pet owners do on the 4th, aside from keeping our pets in and their identification collars on? We can call in reports when people in our neighborhood are setting off these illegal things. If you're not sure what is legal and what is not, call the non-emergency hotline and report what you're hearing. I know I plan to be on the phone if I hear these things.

Now, I know fireworks like this have always been illegal, and I know the authorities often suggest that people should follow the law or live in fear of fines. We've heard it all before. However, this year does seem a little different to me. The authorities seem to be taking the issue just as seriously as we pet owners do. Why not help them do their jobs, and hand out those promised fines?

Perhaps if we do, I can avoid writing this article next year. It's worth a try, at least.