Animal clinic shares Fourth of July safety tips after retired K-9 is scared away by fireworks

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – One of the top traditions for the Fourth of July could be one of the most dangerous for your pets. Fireworks can startle an animal and cause them to run away. In fact, the Marion County Sheriff’s Office is searching for a retired K-9 that was frightened by the sound of fireworks.

For many, the sound of fireworks are a celebration, but for others including pets like Laika, it’s a trigger for anxiety and fear.


“She just wants to run until the noise is gone,” said Lieutenant Lisa Graves, of the Marion County K-9 Unit.

Laika, 13, is a retired K-9 and is currently missing. She’s a friendly, black Belgian Malinois and is trained to detect narcotics. She’s wearing a blue collar and is microchipped. If you find Laika, you should maintain an appropriate level of caution, but be aware she is not a bite dog. Laika has been missing since last Tuesday.

“She was outside in the yard with her sisters,” said Graves.

Her owner, Lisa Graves, says it was daylight when the fireworks started to sound off in her neighborhood. Moments later, she heard loud barking.

“Within a matter of I don’t know, 10 minutes, she literally chewed her way out of the back gate and was gone and the other dogs were telling on her,” said Graves. “I didn’t expect it. Otherwise she would have been in the house with her thunder-shirt and her Xanax and her lavender diffusing.”

It’s a sad situation, but an important safety reminder. Those stress reliving tips are exactly what Dr. Kerry Peterson of Pet Wellness Clinic would suggest. She says a thunder-shirt is a great way to help calm your pet.

“They’re supposed to mimic the swaddling effect,” said Peterson.

You can also consult with your veterinarian. There are therapy techniques, supplements and prescription medications that could help. Peterson says to leave your pets at home and inside instead of bringing them with you to parties. Owners not only have to be cautious during fireworks, but after. Be sure to clean up debris.

“There are a lot of chemicals, heavy metals in those fireworks that could potentially cause some pretty serious medical issues for your pet,” said Peterson.

Keep an eye out for stress signals.

“There dogs are panting excessively, they can’t get comfortable, they’re anxious, they’ll often be clingy to the owner, they won’t want to be left alone,” said Peterson.

More safety suggestions from Pet Wellness Clinic include:

  • Keep sparklers and fireworks, lit or unlit, away from your pets
  • Don’t let pets near matches, lighters, charcoal or hot grills
  • Use only pet-approved sunscreen and insect repellents
  • Maintain pets regular diet
  • Clean up fireworks debris and food scraps before letting pets back outside
  • Make sure your pet is micro-chipped

As the search continues for Laika, it’s also a reminder this holiday to ensure your four-legged family members have a safe, stress-free time.

“Dogs can’t reason, they don’t have that ability like humans,” said Graves. “They just want to run, fight or flight and so hers, it’s flight.”

Graves believes Laika could be in Morgan, Hendricks or Johnson counties. Please call (317) 840-8408 if you find Laika or spot her.

You can also call the Marion County Sheriff’s Office non-emergency dispatch at (317) 327-3811.

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