SANTA MARIA, Calif. - Santa Barbara County Animal Services is working to reunite dogs with their owners. The agency says every year, it gets a steady increase of runaway dogs spooked from Fourth of July fireworks.
"These particular animals came to us as strays from the city of Santa Barbara this morning, most likely terrified from the fireworks," Stacy Silva, community outreach coordinator, said pointing to two small canines; one sported a Wonder Woman outfit.
The shelter is expecting an influx of runaway pets at its locations in Santa Barbara, Lompoc, and Santa Maria.
"If your pet did get out during the Fourth of July, please don't give up hope. Please continue to look for them until you've found them," said Silva.
In recent years, the agency has struggled to reunite pup parents with their four-legged loved ones.
"From 2016 to 2018, we've seen a steady increase of animals coming into the shelters over the 4th of July," said Silva.
In 2016, the agency received 38 dogs during the Independence Day holiday. In 2017, it was 44. And last year, it was 53. Silva says less than a third of them were picked up by their owners.
"A lot of the animals that come into our shelter are not microchipped, nor are they wearing any type of identification, so we're depending on owners looking at shelters to find their missing pet," she said.
Other animals never make it to a shelter.
Lisa Butler, who runs the Lost Dogs of Nipomo Facebook group with her daughter, says she got a call on Thursday night about a German Shepherd on Los Berros Road.
"I went to see if the dog was still deceased or alive. He was not alive," she said.
Butler posted information and some photos of the animal on her Facebook group.
"He wasn't in good shape; it took a while to push to the side of the road."
Other pup parents stayed close to their pets as fireworks went off. Mary Clark tried a new method to alleviate her Dachshund mix.
"I got proactive about it and got some CBD oil," the Santa Maria resident said.
And although the Fourth of July is over, others worry the celebrations are not.
"I'm not looking forward to this weekend at all 'cause I know there's gonna be more [fireworks]," another pup mom said.
Santa Barbara County Animal Services is waiving impound fees up until July 6th.