When Sheree Miller learned that the city’s Fourth of July celebration was going to be booming and banging close to the Lawrence Humane Society on Monday, the thought of watching fireworks never occurred to her. Soothing the animals did.
Owner of Lawrence Pet Friends, a local pet sitting company, Miller and five of her associates volunteered at the humane society during the city’s 45-minute fireworks display Monday at Venture Park.
“We know how tough Fourth of July is with nervous and lost pets, so seeing the location for this year’s fireworks was very concerning,” she said. “When it sank in that the fireworks weren’t being moved or canceled, the next right step was to see how we could help.”
This past week, people across Lawrence have reached out to the animal shelter to help mitigate any stress to the animals caused by being in such close proximity to the fireworks celebration — a first for the shelter. More than 20 people volunteered on the night of the display, and dozens donated supplies used to soothe the animals.
“Things went quite well,” said Elina Alterman, director of development and communications at the humane society. “It helped that we were able to be so prepared by knowing about it in advance. … Having so many ready volunteers and just having everyone doing what was needed allowed us to make sure every single animal was taken care of and not forgotten.”
In the days before the fireworks display, Brandon Zoeller, owner of CBD American Shaman in Lawrence, donated CBD pet treats to the shelter. Zoeller has two Jack Russell terriers at home, Sunny and Bailey. Bailey’s a barker who alerts the family when someone sets off a firework, Zoeller said. Knowing his own dogs’ stress levels during the fireworks, he thought of how the shelter animals might respond to the noise and vibrations and wanted to help.
“(The Lawrence Humane Society) does so much for us, I wanted to help them out for a change,” he said.
The treats made a difference, and so did the hotdogs, cheese, tuna and other goodies staff used to distract and engage the shelter animals, Alterman said.
“It might seem small, but it made a world of difference,” Alterman said.
For her part, Miller was struck by how prepared the shelter staff was during the fireworks display, supplying volunteers with instructions and a timeline.
“It ended up going smoothly with the overall theme of calm,” she said. “There were a few, of course, that were scared and nervous as to be expected, but some rooms were silent, and the animals were engaged with their enrichment treats. … I know the humane society can handle it, but of course hope they don’t have to again in the future.”
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Chansi Long (she/her) reported for The Lawrence Times from July 2022 through August 2023. Read more of her work for the Times here.