The RSPCA is reminding members of the public to consider the needs of animals and their welfare as we prepare to welcome in 2023.
Fireworks are a common part of New Year’s festivities – but many animals can find them deeply distressing, and the RSPCA is reminding the public of the many practical steps which can be taken to help protect their welfare.
Pet owners have been urged to plan ahead, with action such as sound-proofing and the provision of safe enclosures all able to help reduce firework phobia among companion animals across England and Wales.
The RSPCA has been running its #BangOutOfOrder campaign for many years and is calling on the UK Government to urgently review firework regulations. As part of the campaign, a number of local authorities have also taken measures within their communities to mitigate the risk fireworks pose to animals.
Shelley Phillips, RSPCA campaigns manager, said: “As many of us celebrate the start of 2023, the festivities can also be stressful for many animals – including our pets.
“We’d like to direct those who are worried about their pets to look at our guidance online so they can hopefully undertake some measures to keep their pets safe, and to ease their pets’ fear of loud noises.
“From making sure dogs and cats are indoors when fireworks are likely to be set off, to masking firework noises, and providing pets with a safe place to hide at all times, it’s so important pet owners plan ahead.
“Small animals living outside should be provided with lots of extra bedding to allow for burrowing, whilst parts of their enclosure could be covered with a blanket to provide further sound-proofing and insulation.”
Horses, farm animals and wildlife can also be negatively affected by fireworks. The RSPCA continues to urge organisers of events to avoid letting off fireworks near where animals are kept. Horse owners should check to see if there are going to be any firework displays in their area, and talk to the organisers – explaining there are horses nearby and asking them to set off their fireworks well away from their horses and aimed in the opposite direction.
Equally the animal welfare charity urges people to use lower-noise fireworks which can make such a difference to make displays safer for everybody.
Fireworks can have a devastating impact on animals. Derry, a 12-year-old rescue dog, had to be put down after he was scared to death by fireworks on Bonfire Night this year. His owner Sarah Frost from Desford in Leicestershire was left heartbroken after he had two fits and suffered internal bleeding after a private fireworks display was held near her home.
Sarah said: “Derry was my third dog and he was the first who really struggled with fireworks. Until you have a pet who can’t cope with them you really have no idea.
“He was already a nervous and anxious dog. I had tried everything to help him when fireworks were set off, but this time it was too much.”
This November Sarah said a nearby display felt like “bombs were going off”. Sadly Derry was impacted considerably due to the display and suffered a fit and was taken to the vets.
“We put him in the car with all the fireworks still going on around us and he had another fit in the car,” said Sarah. “At the vets his gums were completely white.”
Tragically at the vets Derry was put to sleep to prevent any further suffering.
“To have lost him like that was just heartbreaking,” she said. “If I can do anything to stop it happening to even just one family, I will. There should be restrictions so that fireworks at home should be silent and there needs to be regulation so they are only held on certain days.”
To urge the UK Government to review firework regulations, you can sign up to the RSPCA’s campaign here.
The RSPCA is also reminding people as to the possible dangers of using sky lanterns, as part of any New Year celebrations. They can cause injuries to animals which lead to suffering, and even a slow, painful death.
Shelley added: “Sky lanterns, commonly known as ‘Chinese lanterns’, present a significant danger to animals, and can cause injuries which lead to suffering and a slow, painful death.
“Risks to animals include ingestion, entanglement and entrapment; whilst lanterns can also cause fire, destroy habitats or damage animal housing and feed. The consequences of a lit or hot lantern landing in stables or barns occupied by horses or farm animals surrounded by dry, flammable bedding and forage are truly horrific to imagine.
“Whilst sky lanterns may look pretty, people need to remember that what goes up, must come down – so, for animals’ sake, we’re urging the public to give sky lanterns a miss this New Year.”