By Dominic Garcia

DENVER (CBS4) – Two days after Christine Hager’s German Shepard Axel got spooked by fireworks and bolted, he’s finally back where he belongs- home.

“I’m so grateful he’s home. I think he’s injured, we’ll have to go see a vet. He’s not himself, he limps but he’s here and he’s happy to be here,” she told CBS4’s Dominic Garcia.

(credit: CBS)

Axel went missing Tuesday evening after fireworks started going off near the intersection of Syracuse and 17th. Many people started posting possible sightings online which had Christine driving everywhere, but each time she was too late.

Christine Hager (credit: CBS)

That is until Thursday morning when she got a call from a man in Park Hill. Axel was hiding in his shed. Christine says the community response was overwhelming.

(credit: Facebook)

“What I’m more excited about is this experience of community. These people coming together, and if they come together like this for a dog what else can we do as a community?” said Hager.

(credit: CBS)

Christine was lucky, but many other pet owners in Denver were not. Denver Animal Protection officer Daniel Ettinger said the Fourth of July was busy for them.

(credit: CBS)

“So today we’ve had about 12 dogs and 4 cats dropped off and yesterday through our night drop we had 9 dogs dropped off and two cats as well,” he told CBS4’s Dominic Garcia.

(credit: CBS)

Ettinger says people aren’t done lighting off fireworks and says people need to make sure their pets are secured.

Denver Animal Protection provided the following pet safety tips:


  • 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.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 our Lost Pets listings at and 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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