Pets, vets with PTSD can be spooked by loud noises

MOUNT VERNON — The Fourth of July is just around the corner and even though there are very few big fireworks displays going on, that won’t stop people from celebrating in their ways, with their fireworks. But fireworks can be terrifying for both pets and some veterans.

Kevin Henthorn, Executive Director of Knox County Veteran Services and an Air Force veteran, said this time of year brings about a stigma assigned to combat veterans in which loud noises, such as fireworks, can relate to their combat experience and bring back memories from that time. While not all combat veterans have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), it’s a good thing to keep in mind when celebrating around this time of year.

“Vets have been encouraged to place a notice for their neighbors,” Henthorn said, adding that this can be a tall task and a struggle for some veterans to do. “But we live in a time where it’s not to difficult to place a vet.”

Things like flags, decals and license plate designs can all help the community know where a veteran lives. By knowing where a veteran lives, people can become aware of the situation, Henthorn added.

“As a society, we need to have a heightened awareness and be mindful of the situation and have some common courtesy,” Henthorn said.

He continued saying that all we can do to help is look around and pay attention because this time of year can be a sensitive issue for some people.

Given the fact that there aren’t many organized firework displays this year, Henthorn said it might be a good year to start looking into alternative July 4 celebration ideas.

“Some fireworks don’t make any noise,” he said, adding that things like sparklers don’t make noise. “There are ones that provide colored smoke.”

Other ideas include getting festive with some colorful lights. Henthorn said that he’s seen lighting become more popular over the years for other holidays like Valentine’s Day and Halloween, so people could start some new, creative traditions that way as well.

When it comes to pets, Knox County Dog Warden John Carhart said one of the best things a pet owner can do it comfort their dog if they have fear surrounding loud noises associated with fireworks. He said signs include shaking, trying to hide in places like the bathroom or a dark corner or even trying to run away. The latter may become an issue if one should host friends over and Carhart said to make sure gates and doors are secured well and to watch when letting people in and out of the house.

“What pet owners can do is offer some comfort to their animal,” he said. “And know your animal and their fears.”

Some other options to help a pet during this time includes medication, putting on soothing music to help cover the other sounds and putting an anxiety jacket, such as a ThunderShirt, on your dog. However, he said anxiety jackets aren’t meant to be worn for an extended period.

“Pay attention to your animal and see what affects them,” Carhart said. “Pet owners need to be considerate.”

He offered one of the most humane things a pet owner can do is don’t do the things that cause your pet to show signs of fear. He also said they should keep their animals away from things like sparklers, bottle rockets and any other firecrackers.

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Jamie Holland: 740-397-5333 or and on Twitter, @



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