Help to keep animals safe this firework season

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As November approaches, the Scottish SPCA is warning that fireworks can have a serious impact on the welfare of domestic, farm and wild animals.

Scotland’s animal welfare charity is also urging anyone holding firework displays to be careful and considerate to help avoid any animals coming to harm.

Scottish SPCA chief superintendent Mike Flynn said: “The current legal noise limit for a firework is 120 decibels.

“To put this into perspective, a typical pneumatic drill measures around 100 decibels and people are advised to wear ear protectors when exposed to anything above 80 decibels.

“A dog’s hearing is twice as sensitive as a human’s and a cat’s three times, which means the sudden bang from a firework can be terrifying and cause extreme distress.

“Anyone holding a firework display should warn their neighbours in advance so they can make adequate provisions for their pets if possible.

“Dogs and cats often flee at the sound of fireworks and this can result in them being injured or even killed in road traffic accidents.

“The noise can also cause panic in livestock and horses which can lead to severe injury if they try and bolt through fences.

“We are also advising people to check bonfires before they are lit for hibernating animals such as hedgehogs, frogs and toads.”

Pet owners can help minimise the distress fireworks may cause their animals by taking a number of steps.

CS Flynn advised: “Domestic pets, including small animals usually kept outside, should be moved indoors after dark, with the curtains closed and televisions or radios left on to provide a distraction from the noise of fireworks. Owners of pets who are known to become extremely distressed by fireworks can also discuss treatments and therapies with their vet.

Collars and plug-ins which release a synthetic pheromone may provide comfort and reduce anxiety.”

At present, fireworks can be used in public on any day of the year between the hours of 7am and 11pm, with the laws further relaxed around major occasions such as November 5, New Year’s Eve, Chinese New Year and Diwali. They can be sold from October 15 to November 10, from December 26 to 31, and on the days of Chinese New Year and Diwali and the three preceding days.

The Scottish SPCA believes that the sale of fireworks should be restricted to the week leading up to Bonfire Night on November 5 and not at all afterwards, with the current rules for New Year’s Eve, Chinese New Year and Diwali remaining unchanged.

The charity also believes the unlicensed use of fireworks by members of the public should be limited to defined festival periods rather than all year round.

A template letter for people to write to their MP and MSP in support of a restriction on the current fireworks laws is available at scottishspca.org.