SoCal animal shelters busy with owners looking for runaway pets

JURUPA VALLEY, Calif. (KABC) -- The day after Independence Day is always a busy one a local animal shelters, and not for a good reason.

Dozens of worried pet owners showed up at the Riverside County Animal Shelter in Jurupa Valley looking for pets that ran away from home, scared because of the sound of illegal fireworks.

"I haven't slept, I literally haven't slept," said Eric Arteaga of Riverside. Two of his dogs ran away from home on July 4.

"Just totally disappeared. We went to call her the next day, and nothing. She always comes back when she's outside, so we had no idea where she went," said Kimberley Lopez of Riverside, referring to her cat Eve.

Residents described the sound of the fireworks. "They were going off, one by one a lot," said Kalie Pearson.

"They were pretty loud, almost like gunshots," said Jose Hernandez of Eastvale, who showed up at the shelter looking for his Australian-Shepherd named Buddy. "It's my grandson's dog, and he loves him very much."

But while it was busy on July 5th, officials at the shelter say it's not nearly as busy as it has been in years past.

"In the old days, when the Fourth of July would come around, it would be like, 'I'm off to Havasu,' or 'I'm off to Las Vegas,' and you put the dog in the back yard and think everything is going to be alright," said Riverside County Animal Services spokesperson John Welsh.

But he said many owners are now staying at home to comfort their pets, and consequently they're not seeing as many strays as they have in other years. "We're seeing a lot more responsible pet owners out there," said Welsh.

There was good news for Eric Arteaga though, who found that both of his dogs were turned in at the shelter. He went home with them after paying the impound fees. "Oh my god, I don't know what to say. I'm at a loss for words," said Arteaga.

Arteaga wasn't the only one who went home happy. Andrea Amaro said her dog was also found at the shelter. "I was at school this morning and my mom told me they found him and I started tearing up," said Amaro.

Welsh said 187 stray animals were impounded at Riverside County Animal Services shelters across the county on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. By late Wednesday afternoon, Welsh said 43 dogs have been reunited with their owners.
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