WASHINGTON — The Fourth of July is around the corner. While planning Independence Day celebrations, people should bear in mind that pets can become distressed by the additional noise and commotion of the holiday. The Humane Society of the United States strongly encourages pet owners to protect their pets from potential harm by adhering to the following safeguards: • Leave your pet at home. Fireworks displays can be disorienting and frightening to most pets. • Create a home sanctuary. Leave your pet in an area of your home where he or she is safe, comfortable and sheltered from any outside raucous. If you cannot stay with them, leave a radio or TV on at normal level to keep them company. • Protect your property. When scared, some animals can become destructive, so be sure to remove anything that can become damaged or might harm your pet if it was to be chewed. • Never leave pets outside and unattended. Even in a fenced in yard, panic can lead a pet to escape and get lost, or become injured while trying to seek refuge. • Make sure that your pet is always wearing identification. In the unfortunate event that your pet was to get lost, an updated identification tag greatly increases your chances of being reunited. • If your pet fears loud noises such as thunder, fireworks won't fly. In that case, consult your veterinarian before July 4 on how to lower your pet's stress level. • If you plan to go away for the holiday, decide what will be the best option for your pet. The HSUS Web site, www.hsus.org, features information on traveling with your pet, choosing a professional sitter, and finding a boarding kennel. "It's understandable that people want to include their family members - including pets - in their holiday celebrations," said Nancy Peterson, HSUS issues specialist for companion animals. "However, most pets are more likely to enjoy their comfortable routines. Save the fireworks and fanfare for your human companions, and for everyone, have a safe and fun holiday." I'd suggest copying this and passing it along to everyone you know who owns a pet of some sort.