After people celebrate Independence Day with fireworks, many dogs decide they need their own independence from all that noise.
"This is the time of year we get the most dogs," said Don Winstel, now in his second stint as director of the Franklin County Department of Animal Care and Control.
Community Relations Manager Susan M. Smith agreed that the nonstop barrage of booms from backyards in late June and early July means scant available space at the shelter.
"It just accelerates the number (of dogs) we pick up," she said.
Officials at the Franklin County Dog Shelter and Adoption Center, 4340 Tamarack Blvd. in the Northland area, offered special pricing on adoptions last week to clear space for the expected influx of pooches petrified by all that percussive crashing in the sky and the accompanying acrid odor.
"We just know our numbers are going to grow and every bit of space we can create is a big help," Smith said.
Instead of $123 for dogs younger than 5 or $73 for those older, the adoption fee leading up to the Fourth of July was $18.
Dogs, with their sensitive hearing and keen sense of smell, don't like fireworks, and their response is often to make tracks, according to Smith and field supervisor Jodi Kroeger.
"If a dog's scared, they're going to run as far as they can until they feel comfortable," Kroeger said. "They're likely to take off and run until they can't run any more."
Every post-Fourth of July, she said, her employees hear stories from dog owners who say their pets never attempted to scale a fence -- until the fireworks started.
"On these occasions, it's like there's not a fence," Kroeger said.
The objective of deputy dog wardens isn't just to get frightened animals off the streets and into the shelter, Kroeger said.
"We want to get them home rather than coming here," she said.
The 18 deputies will use scanners to glean information from microchipped dogs or try to find contact information for owners from licenses.
"That's pretty much a one-way ticket back home," Kroeger said, but emphasized this only works if the information for the license or microchip is kept current.
"We will try to make contact with those owners, but sometimes it takes some back and forth," Smith said.
In May, the most recent month for which statistics are available, 25 percent of dogs picked up were returned to their owners without ever entering the shelter, Smith said.
A dog that does end up at the Tamarack Boulevard shelter without a license is kept for three days before being made available for adoption.
"After three days, it becomes the property of the county," Smith said.
Licensed dogs are held for 14 days.
A sad reality, according to Smith, is sometimes owners show up to reclaim a family pet only to find the dog has been adopted by someone else.
"Speed is of the essence," Smith said.