Family reunited with dog frightened by fireworks

Published: July 6, 2006 | 4402nd good news item since 2003

Belle, a 12-year-old sheltie, yipped happily as she squirmed over 9-year-old twins Ethan and Lea Hughbanks. Both children were radiant as they embraced their dog at the Animal Care and Control shelter, where she was taken after she ran away because of the noise of fireworks.

From the scene at the shelter, 3020 Hillegas Road, on Wednesday, one would think Belle had not seen the family for months. But in reality, Belle, who has been with the family for five years, had been away only a little over a day and a half. When the family left Monday night, they assumed they would return to Belle, who was in the fenced-in backyard. But when they returned, the dog was nowhere to be seen.

“When we came back, we were looking for the dog and talked with (the neighbors). That’s when they said they were doing fireworks and saw (Belle) run,” Larry Hughbanks, the twins’ dad said.

Some neighbors saw the sheltie running away and called Animal Care and Control. At the same time, the Hughbanks were frantically looking for Belle.

“It was a little emotional here Monday night when we didn’t know where she was,” said mother Julie Hughbanks. “And Lea was crying her little heart out.”

Larry said he finally called the shelter, but they had to go in to identify Belle. Larry said Belle will stay indoors during the rest of July and the fireworks season.

Belle is not the only dog who has run away due to fireworks in the days around the Fourth of July. For Tuesday and Wednesday, there were 95 cases cof dogs with presumed homes that have run away, said Animal Care and Control enforcement supervisor Jef Hale. Last year there were 93 similar cases reported to Animal Care and Control, Hale said. Because of a change in the shelter’s computer system, only two years of data could be retrieved, Hale said.

“Dogs will do anything to get away from a perceived threat; fireworks are a perceived threat,” he said.

Hale added that last year there were two Animal Care and Control employees, each working a 10-hour shift. This year, however, the two Animal Care and Control employees could work only eight hours each. This change resulted in more calls per hour than last year.

Hale said that the new fireworks law allowing adults in Indiana to set off fireworks on their property will only exacerbate the situation for canines.

“In my neighborhood there are fireworks going off starting Monday. People don’t understand the ramifications of fireworks, especially when it involves dogs,” Hale said.

In addition to runaway animals, Parkview Hospital spokeswoman Karen Belcher said the hospital treated two patients who suffered dog bites, thought to be related to fireworks.

Published in Animals
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