NEWBERRY — While many residents are planning what they will do for the Total Solar Eclipse, they should also establish a plan for their pets and livestock.
“I think for most of them, especially dogs, they get anxious and I think if people are taking their pets with them, it is probably a bad idea because they get really distracted with crowds. That anxiety builds and then when it turns black all of a sudden they will not be able to orient themselves,” said Dr. Sara Taylor with Newberry Animal Hospital. “Having your dogs indoors, or in the yard, where it is most comfortable and has a place to be secure is best.”
If you have an outdoor dog, Taylor said it is OK to keep them outside, because their anxiety will increase if you take them away from their regular environment. What they might end up doing is going inside their dog house, or outdoor shelter, like they would at night, especially since the temperature is expected to drop.
If you are looking for ways to help your pet with their anxiety, Taylor recommends making a safe space.
“Whether inside a closet, or some other space they are accustomed to in the house. There is not going to be any noise associated with the eclipse, except for night time noise. Crickets might start chirping and frogs may start croaking. Other than that it should be fairly quiet because most of the song birds will actually be silent during that time,” she said.
If you were take take your dog to a public place, they could end up trying to take off due to their anxiety, according to Taylor. Service animals will also not know how to react, because they have not had training for an eclipse.
“Owners should keep in mind having a back-up plan. If they can, try and avoid taking the service animal with them. For those individuals it may be better to observe from their own yard, instead of heading downtown,” Taylor said.
Pets with anxiety are not the only animals that may be reacting to the Eclipse. Taylor said animals that have night time behaviors may in fact start exhibiting those behaviors. Birds, like chickens, may begin to roost and bats may come out.
“Once it has passed, they will certainly go back to their normal behavior,” she said. “With outdoor chickens, they (owners) should make the roost available, some people close it up during the day. It is recommended they leave them open once the chickens think it is night, we then expect them to come back out afterwards.”
Wild animals, such as foxes, may come out as well. Taylor said there is little research because a Total Solar Eclipse is so rare and random. However, now that smart phones are prevalent in society, Newberry residents can help provide research.
“There’s going to be a phone app, iNaturalist, asking for input, if you happen to see animals’ behavior, so if you are on a farm and you can take a few minutes to look at your cows, sheep, whatever, they can collect a tremendous amount of data (from what you observe) now that people carry phones,” Taylor said.
The study is called Life Responds, and anyone willing can observe any type of animal they wish, including ants and spiders, any animal that is easily accessible to them.
“I will be doing that, I will be here at the office. We have a weather balloon going up in our backyard to take photos. I will be observing the animals here to make sure there is no problem,” she said.
Reach Andrew Wigger at 803-768-3122 ext. 1867 or on Twitter @ TheNBOnews.