MILTON — Milton residents can celebrate Independence Day here in town with no shortage of festivities. 

RIVERFEST RETURNS 

The Santa Rosa Medical Center presents Riverfest 2017: A Celebration of Freedom from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. July 4.

The schedule, according to a Santa Rosa County Chamber of Commerce flyer, includes these events, among others:

9 a.m. to 12 p.m.: 16th Annual Firecracker Motorcycle Show, South Willing Street, and the Freedom Car Show, Elmira Street 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.: Treasure Island Children’s Activity Area at the North Gazebo 5 p.m.: The Great Milltown Duck Race (1st Place: $1,500, 2nd Place: $750, 3rd Place: $250) 6:30 to 8:30 pm: Live entertainment, North Gazebo, featuring Robby Tucker, an acoustic experience 6:30 p.m.: Veterans Salute, Veterans Memorial Plaza 7 p.m.: Hot dog eating contest, South Pavilion A fireworks display, presented by the city of Milton and McKenzie Buick GMC, begins at dark. 

RUNAWAY PETS 

More pets go missing on Independence Day compared to any other day of the year, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Nearly one in five lost pets goes missing after being scared by the sound of fireworks, thunderstorms or other loud noises, according to recent ASPCA survey findings.

Although most people may associate the sound, sight and smell of fireworks with a celebration, animals do not, and it can cause them stress. According to Santa Rosa County Animal Services, the shelter often sees an increase in lost pets after fireworks displays, especially on the Fourth of July.

"Typically we will see between five and ten dogs brought in as runaways after events like the Fourth of July,” Dora Thomason, Animal Services supervisor, said. “The loud noises from fireworks make many animals fearful and when over-stimulated or scared they may behave unpredictably.

“We strongly encourage pet owners to keep their pets at home in a safe environment.” 

8 PET SAFETY TIPS 

Santa Rosa County Animal Services provided these tips for keeping pets safe during fireworks displays:

Keep pets indoors during the evening of July 4. Turn on the TV or radio as a distraction and close curtains. Provide a pet bed or crate in a quiet place to create a small den-like place and a sense of security. Take your pet for an extra potty break before fireworks begin. If your pet becomes frightened, this can help prevent accidents. If your pet often becomes stressed during periods of loud noise like thunderstorms, check with your veterinarian to see if a tranquilizer is appropriate for your pet during the festivities. If you are near a fireworks display or if neighbors are lighting fireworks, don't leave your pets unattended outside, not even in a fenced yard or on a chain. Frightened pets may try to escape a fenced yard or become tangled in their chains. Ensure your pets have proper identification tags with current information in case they run away. If you must be outside with your pet, keep the pet on a leash or in a carrier at all times. Do not leave your pet in a vehicle while you watch a fireworks display. In only a matter of minutes, the heat in a car can cause serious health problems or death, even at night. A stressed animal can also cause major damage to the interior of your vehicle. If your pet goes missing in Santa Rosa County, call Santa Rosa Animal Services at 983-4680 or search the "Search Lost Pets" tab at www.santarosa.fl.gov/animals.