Fright Flight: Dog shelter crowded with runaways after weekend fireworks

Susan Smith stood in front of a cage at the Franklin County Dog Shelter & Adoption Center and read off everything she knew about its occupants.

The spokeswoman said the black dog with white feet had been found Sunday near Wilson Road on the West Side.

The dog, a female, wasn’t wearing a collar and didn’t have a microchip embedded in her skin. Smith said the dog’s temporary name was her cage number: F203.

F203 was one of 115 — and counting — dogs who ran away during the Fourth of July weekend. “I’ve got room after room of this,” Smith said.

Many dogs do not like the sound of fireworks or firecrackers, and rounded-up strays begin to pour in after the city’s Red White & Boom display Downtown on Friday night. They continued to arrive as cities and neighborhoods across central Ohio celebrated the July Fourth holiday with fireworks.

Returning some dogs to their owners is easy. Shelter workers check for a license tag or scan for a microchip indicating where a dog lives.

Licensed dogs are held for two weeks. If no one claims them, they will be put up for adoption. Smith said about one-third of those dogs are reunited with their owners.

“That’s the biggest mystery to me,” Smith said. “Why don’t people come to get their dogs?”

Ohio law requires licenses for all dogs 3 months and older, but not all owners comply. “We pick up quite a few dogs without licenses,” Smith said.

Unlicensed dogs are held for three days before going up for adoption.

Amber Bond went to the shelter Tuesday to look for Tiny, her Chihuahua-Yorkie mix who took off Sunday afternoon on the North Side.

“I didn’t even think to look here,” Bond said.

Bond’s mother was walking Tiny home from a store when the dog bolted after hearing firecrackers. Unfortunately, Bond’s search at the shelter proved fruitless: Tiny was still out there, somewhere.

Bob Keeney had better luck. It turns out that F203 is really Bridget, whose tail started to wag as soon as she spotted Keeney.

He said Bridget was startled by fireworks and jumped a 5-foot fence “like a deer.”

Before Bridget could leave the shelter, Kenney had to pay $18 for a license, a $20 impounding fee and $60 for boarding.

The shelter extended its hours this week, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

@emilybohatch

ebohatch@dispatch.com

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