What to do if you lose, or find, a stray pet in Salem this holiday weekend

While Salem enjoys firework shows this week, dogs at the Marion County shelter will be listening to calming music, burrowing into lavender-scented blankets and cooling off under sprinklers.

The stress from noise means the Fourth of July is typically Marion County Dog Services’ busiest week of the year, said director Lauren Thielke. Last year, the shelter took in 25 dogs. It only has 40 full-sized kennels in total.

It’s all hands on deck at the shelter. Volunteers come in every day to help the pups burn off energy through enrichment activities five times daily.

“For those dogs that are extremely anxious our contracted veterinarian prescribes medication so that they can make it through the few days of fireworks without getting too stressed out,” Thielke said.

To make sure dogs don’t run away from home over the holiday, Thielke recommends keeping them in an escape-proof room or crate, along with a favorite toy. A frozen Kong chew toy with peanut butter inside is an option.

The Oregon Humane Society recommends making sure cats are in the house during the fireworks celebration, and that even indoor-only cats wear a collar with their owner’s name and phone number. Cats should also be microchipped, according to the shelter.

With mixed results, Thielke said some pets are soothed by ThunderShirts, which wrap around them and can be bought at any pet store.

Unfortunately, it is likely that frightened pets will get loose this weekend.

Thielke encourages owners to make sure their dog is wearing a tag with their phone number and license tag on it.

If someone sees a lost pet, or loses a pet themselves, Thielke said the best thing to do is post in a local Facebook group called Lost and Found Pets of Salem Oregon.

“If they can get a picture of the dog, post it, oftentimes that will reunite a dog directly with an owner,” she said. “If they find a dog and can safely handle it, we recommend taking it to a vet to be scanned for a chip,” which is free at any vet clinic or shelter.

Thielke said most pets will wander close to home, and knocking on doors can help reunite them, too. 

For those that lose or find dogs, the county shelter can be reached at 503-566-6988. They’ve also been posting safety tips for the holiday on their Facebook Page. See their website here.

If a dog is brought to the county shelter with owner information available through a tag or microchip, they will have a 5-day stray hold before being placed for adoption or transferred to a rescue agency. Thielke said they’ll call, email and send a letter to owners to try to reach them when that happens.

The Oregon Humane Society has a Salem campus on 4246 Turner Rd. S.E. which can be reached at 503-285-7722. The shelter has an online portal to help with lost and found pets. The shelter has an online forum to post about lost and found cats and lost and found dogs.

See the Oregon Humane Society’s full page of Marion and Polk county resources here.

Contact reporter Abbey McDonald: [email protected] or 503-575-1251

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Abbey McDonald joined the Salem Reporter in 2022. She previously worked as the business reporter at The Astorian, where she covered labor issues, health care and social services. A University of Oregon grad, she has also reported for the Malheur Enterprise, The News-Review and Willamette Week.