Stray Hearts Animal Shelter announced plans Monday (May 20) to move about 40 dogs in their care to foster homes during the town’s annual July 4 fireworks display.
Animal welfare advocates expressed concerns the pyrotechnic show would traumatize canines at the shelter which is located within blocks of where the fireworks will be launched.
Calls for the town to relocate the display have been rebuked by municipal leaders. Alternative sites for the annual celebration are not financially feasible or safe given the risk of summer wildfires, town manager Oscar Rodriguez told The Taos News.
The show would be shortened this year from 50 minutes to half an hour in what Rodriguez said was a “very reasonable change.”
The town’s move did not assuage the concerns of some animal welfare advocates such as Yamuna Devi. The Tres Piedras resident started a petition on the social networking website Change.org calling on the town to relocate the display. The appeal had garnered more than 1,200 supporters from around the world in two weeks.
“The dogs at the shelter have already been through severe trauma,” Devi told The Taos News, adding she spent the duration of last year’s fireworks show at Stray Hearts with other volunteers. “It was shocking, the reaction of the animals. I sat in a kennel with a trembling 60-pound dog.”
Jonah Reynolds, a Taoseño and animal welfare advocate who signed the petition, said he recalled the fireworks display taking place at various sites in the past.
“It has not been there forever,” Reynolds said of the current location on Salazar Road. “There are a lot of creative people in this town. We can find a solution.”
The decision to reduce the length of the pyrotechnic show, Reynolds said, was a “a phony compromise.”
In an email Monday (May 20), Stray Hearts Executive Director Jan Gordon appealed for volunteers who live “far away from the fireworks” to foster a dog for July 4.
“People are stepping up to the plate and offering a home for the night or, in some cases, just the time the fireworks are on,” Gordon said. “ Who knows? Maybe many of the dogs will get adopted by doing this.”