Erin Hession, director of administration at the Humane Society of Southwest Missouri, snuggles Pete, a pup ready for adoption. (Photo by Wes Johnson)

Fireworks are illegal inside Springfield city limits.

But here’s a Facebook trend that seems to be catching on.  Instead of buying costly fireworks that you can’t legally shoot in the city, why not buy a bag of dog or cat food and donate it to a local animal shelter?

“Yes, we would encourage individuals to donate to a shelter/rescue instead of participating in fireworks,” said Michele Rehkop with Rescue One in Springfield. She said Rescue One currently has 300 dogs and cats in its care seeking a forever home, and the animals go through a lot of food.

Noise and concussions from Fourth of July fireworks is hard on many pets, she said.  

“We see many dogs get loose and end up being lost during the weeks leading up to and after the Fourth of July holiday,” Rehkop said. “These sounds can be very traumatizing to dogs and cause them to try to run and hide.  It can also be traumatizing for dogs who are contained indoors.  They can still hear and feel the sounds of fireworks.  It can cause anxiety, and some dogs have to be medicated to endure the stress.”

Clarabelle and Olivia are a bonded pair of beagle-mix dogs that are waiting for someone to take them home together. (Photo by Wes Johnson)

Anyone who would like to donate dog or cat food can drop it off at Rescue One’s Springfield office at 1927 East Bennett Street.

The Humane Society of Southwest Missouri also hopes the Facebook challenge to donate pet food instead of buying fireworks catches on.  

Erin Hession, director of administration, said she has been sharing the challenge on the Humane Society’s social media sites and website and has seen an increase in donations.

A kitten ready for adoption greets Erin Hession, director of administration at the Humane Society of Southwest Missouri. (Photo by Wes Johnson)

“I think it’s a fantastic idea,” Hession said.  “Every one of the rescue and shelters groups are struggling with an abundance of overpopulation. Many of us just don’t have room for more. On our website we are asking: Don’t buy fireworks, donate food.”

The Humane Society also operates a community pet food bank to help pet owners who are struggling to afford food for their dog or cat. Food donations would be welcomed there.

“So many people now can’t afford to feed their pet because of the economy,  and this is a way to help them out with a temporary situation and maybe prevent or delay a surrender,” Hession said.  “The last 18 months it seems our overcrowding, returns and strays have been the worst it’s been.”

The Humane Society of Southwest Missouri is a no-kill shelter that finds homes for  3,000 to 3,300 dogs and cats a year, Hession said. Pet food donations can be made at the Humane Society office at 3161 West Norton Road in Springfield. 

Bags of donated dog food and cat litter are part of the Humane Society’s community pet food bank. (Photo by Wes Johnson)

Wes Johnson has been a journalist for more than 40 years and has lived in Springfield since 2004. He’s an avid sailor, hiker and nature lover. Have a good outdoors story idea? Johnson can be reached at 417-631-2168 or by email at wesdjohnson66@gmail.com.