By Dominic Garcia

DENVER (CBS4) – The past 24 hours have been hectic and heartbreaking for Christine Hager. It all started Tuesday night around dinner. It was just her and her beloved German Shepard, Axel.

(credit: Christine Hager)

“There was this loud boom on Tuesday night when I was having dinner and he took off,” she told CBS4’s Dominic Garcia.

Christine lives near Colfax Avenue and Syracuse and says the past week the fireworks have been relentless. She’s put a plea out on Nextdoor saying Axel runs away every time. While he’s been spotted several times, she always arrives on scene moments too late.

Christine Hager (credit: CBS)

“I’m just following the leads from Nextdoor, there were other people posting and calling and saying they’re looking as well. Strangers I’ve never talked to,” said Hager.

The Denver Animal Shelter wants residents and their pets to have a safe 4th of July. They say fireworks, sparklers, cherry bombs and more can frighten even mild-mannered pets, and frightened animals are much more apt to run, hide or become destructive.

(credit: CBS)

However, there are many ways to keep your pet safe and calm during Independence Day celebrations.


  • Don’t take your pet to parades or fireworks displays or leave your pet in the car at a fireworks show.
  • Don’t leave pets outside unattended, even in a fenced yard or on a chain. Pets that normally wouldn’t leave the yard may escape and become lost, or become entangled in their chain, when fearful. This could put them at risk of injury or death.


  • Keep pets indoors at home in a sheltered, quiet area. Some animals can become destructive when frightened, so be sure you’ve removed any fragile items.
  • Find a pet sitter if you’re spending the day away from home.
  • Provide a safe place. Pets may seek out a small den-like place, such as a crate, if they are fearful or stressed. Create a safe place and familiarize your pet with the area before needed to reduce stress during fireworks.
  • License and microchip your pet. If for some reason your pet escapes, make sure your pet is licensed and microchipped. Having identification will increase the likelihood that your pet will be returned to you if lost. Visit Denver Animal Protection (DAP) to get your pet microchipped or licensed today.
  • Make sure your pets are wearing identification tags so if they do become lost, they can be returned promptly. DAP offers customizable pet IDs.
  • Use a leash or carrier when transporting your pet. If you must be outside with your pet, keep the pet on a leash or in carrier.
  • Talk to your veterinarian if you know your dog has anxiety.
  • Keep sparklers, glow sticks, charcoal, food scraps and kabob skewers away from curious pets.

Christine says she doesn’t mind if people celebrate the 4th with fireworks, but hopes they can do it within reason and only on the night of the 4th.

(credit: Christine Hager)

In the meantime, she’ll keep driving around, looking for Axel. Until then, she’ll continue to worry.

“I worry that he’s sitting somewhere and has no water and has no food and is terrified.”

Denver Animal Shelter is open Monday – Friday from 10:30 a.m. – 6:30 a.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. In addition, DAS has “night drop” kennels open after hours to help keep lost pets safe even after they have closed. If your pet becomes lost over the holiday weekend, check the Lost Pets listings on the shelter’s website or visit DAS to look for your lost pet in person.

Dominic Garcia anchors CBS4 News at 5 p.m. and reports for CBS4 News at 10 p.m. Connect with the Denver native on Twitter @cbs4dom & on Facebook.


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