For pets’ sake, we must limit fireworks
Express & Star columnist Rachael Harrison with today's Talking Point
If you’re a fan of fireworks then you will no doubt have been loving this time of year. But if you’re a pet owner then it’s more than likely the time of year you dread.
The use of fireworks is getting out of control.
While no-one wants to stop people having fun, or marking traditional dates like Bonfire Night, or New Year’s Eve, these celebrations are now going on for weeks, not days, during autumn and winter.
If it was one week of banging rockets and fizzing Catherine Wheels – or if they were let off just on normal celebratory nights it would be easy to plan ahead.
But not when they are randomly banging here there and everywhere for two or three months.
The lead-up to Bonfire Night alone can be a traumatic time of year for many dogs.
The loud bangs and flashes are often very frightening, which can make a pet stressed and unpredictable, potentially putting their safety at risk.
Many owners need to plan ahead and take steps to help keep their furry friend calm and safe.
We have to check where and when firework displays are being held so that we know when to expect large fireworks. And we can ask neighbours to let us know if they are planning any unofficial displays of their own.
Still last October and November the RSPCA received more than 300 calls from worried owners about fireworks.
The charity estimates that 45 per cent of dogs in the UK show signs of fear when they hear the loud displays.
And many pet owners want stricter rules on the times that fireworks can be lit, including me. My Facebook/Twitter feeds are chock-full of posts featuring videos of terrified, stressed out animals, while my dog Penny is not a fan. It’s sad to see.
The RSPCA, the UK’s largest animal charity, has now backed a petition calling for a review on firework rules to protect animals from injury and distress. They have launched a campaign to restrict the private use of fireworks to certain days of the year and reduce the decibel levels.
“We’re joining calls urging people to email the UK Government,” they say. “We want the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) to urgently review firework regulations.”
“Stronger regulations, such as restricting them to certain dates and only selling private use fireworks that have a maximum noise level of 97 decibels, could minimise distress to animals.
“Fireworks are allowed to be 120 decibels, which is equivalent to a jet aircraft taking off.
“We want this reduced to 97 decibels, which is equivalent to a car door slamming, and only allowing anything above at public displays.”
So it’s not just ‘miserable’, ‘kill-joy’ pet owners that want change.
So let’s restrict private use – not just the purchase – of fireworks to traditional dates such as November 5, New Year’s Eve, Chinese New Year and also Diwali.
If you agree, sign the petition at Change.org