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PHOENIX -- This holiday weekend is a great time to adopt a pet for families looking to add a new member to their household.

Maricopa County Animal Care and Control is waiving all adoption fees through Sunday to make room for an expected increase in pets entering their shelters over the Independence Day weekend.

"We do see an increase in the number of stray dogs [and] lost dogs that come to our shelter as a result of animals getting out during Fourth of July celebrations," Melissa Gable, public information officer with the MCACC said.

The loud noises that accompany Fourth of July festivities are often very unsettling for pets, and can lead to animals that are usually secure in yards and homes getting out because of fear.

"Even the calmest of dogs can be scared by the loud noises," said Gable.

Currently the MCACC kennels are at capacity and waiving adoption fees should help free up space for new animals, Gable said.

Normally fees to adopt a cat or dog run about $150, which includes having the pet spayed or neutered as well as vaccinated.

During the Independence Day promotion though, adoptees will have those costs waived.

Gable said the only cost for those adopting a pet will be a licensing fee if the pet is over three months.

"Any dog over three months of age needs to be licensed, and that is a $17 fee," Gable said.

Gable advised there are ways to keep pets safe during the Fourth of July holiday so it is less likely your pet ends up in an animal shelter.

Some tips include, never taking your pet with you to firework displays.

"We recommend that you keep your animal indoors," Gable said, "and it might even be a good idea to keep them in a spare bedroom or a bathroom."

Gable said turning on a radio or television can help drown out the noise of fireworks.

"Just create a quiet little safe-haven for them where they can go during the fireworks," said Gable.

It is also important to always have current identification on pets so that if lost, they can be promptly identified and returned.

On the Fourth of July holiday the main MCACC shelters will be closed, which includes the East shelter at 2630 W. Rio Salido Parkway in Mesa, and the West shelter at 2500 S. 27th Ave. in Phoenix.

However, Gable said the MCACC off-site adoption centers will be open on the holiday and also participating in the free adoptions.

The two off-site locations are: Under One Woof, located at 9716 N. Metro Parkway, Suite 1116 in Phoenix; and the Scottsdale PetSmart Adoption Center, located at 4380 N. Miller Road.

For more information, visit http://www.pets.maricopa.gov

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