Shelter hopes to send 13 cats home

It all started with a dog so spooked by Fourth of July explosions he chewed through two fences to escape his yard.

By Friday at 9:45 a.m., the dog was reunited with his Hillsboro owner at the Bonnie L. Hays Small Animal Shelter.

That was only the beginning.

Deborah Wood and her Washington County Animal Services colleagues had a feeling the combination of hot weather, loud fireworks and a Friday, July 4, holiday would lead to a plethora of spooked pets straying from home.

Not to say they told us so, but 55 dogs and 13 cats later, staff members are glad they decided to remain open through the Independence Day holiday.

To accommodate spooked pets and their owners, the shelter remained open on Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“It was very busy,” said Wood, manager of Washington County Animal Services. “We kind of knew we would have a three-day party, and that’s exactly what happened out there. With all the Fourth of July fireworks out there, a lot of animals got frightened and ended up in the shelter.”

The shelter, which Wood said was the only one in the Portland area to remain open on the holiday, experienced what Wood called a “big influx” of stray pets between Thursday, July 3, and Monday, July 7. Forty-five of the 55 stray dogs brought to the shelter were redeemed by Tuesday.

“Overall, it was not too bad,” Wood said. “Word really got out. People have learned to look to the shelter when their pets are missing. We clearly wanted to get animals back to their owners as quickly as possible.”

So far, felines haven’t fared as well in the holiday’s aftermath, with none of the 13 stray cats dropped off on the holiday weekend being claimed.

“People wait an awfully long time to look for cats,” Wood said. “I think there’s an assumption that a cat will find its way home. Cats are kind of in the same transitional period dogs were in before, where they’re becoming more a part of the family.”

When the pets came in, Animal Services employees look for any visible form of identification and scan cats and dogs for implanted microchips containing vital information.

“We go above and beyond to get people reunited with pets,” Wood said. “We can get contact information about the person who adopted a dog from a shelter in Alaska. We look on craigslist. One of the ways people find out their pets are here is our website.”

The cats and dogs that wound up at the shelter over the Fourth of July came in all shapes, sizes and frames of mind.

“What happens on the Fourth is animals that were normally fine and placid, but once that noise started, they really couldn’t handle it,” Wood said. “There is clearly cause and effect, between the commotion and animals being here. There’s just no question about it.”

If your pet is lost, check with the shelter by visiting Click on “Lost and Found” to see every stray animal housed in the shelter, or call 503-846-7041.

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