Now that Bonfire Night has passed for another year it is perhaps a good opportunity to reflect on some issues relating to it and to fireworks in general.
Clearly, from a purely animal welfare point of view, it would be best if fireworks did not exist at all. From a human perspective events such as 5th November are great because of the amazing sights, sounds and smells associated with them. In addition retail sales and the production/distribution of them have become so important to the economy that asking for a total ban, or for organised displays only, is probably both unrealistic and naive.
Making it unlawful to set off fireworks, under any circumstances, outwith specified dates in the year could be a workable compromise between family fun and the well being of animals in general.
If this was implemented all pet owners would know that their animals will not be affected by the result of fireworks being let off, other than the date authorized. Unfortunately some people will choose to still set them off at other times but the key would need to be to make such an offence socially unacceptable since the effective policing of such a law would be difficult to enforce.
If pet owners, farmers etc can have faith that fireworks will only take place on the specified date it will have an enormous benefit for animal welfare. A whole range of provision can be made to limit the emotional impact that fireworks can inevitably cause. Animals that really do not cope well with the noise can, in certain circumstances, be moved to quieter locations for the night; be prescribed sedatives for the night; cats/rabbits etc can be brought in for the one night; various diffusers and tablets designed to lessen stress can be given from a few weeks before the date in question (most of these need to be introduced to the home two or three weeks before to be effective) and compression coats, to increase a feeling of security, can be put onto a dog if necessary. All of these measures require the actions to be focused on a particular date.
The problem we have is that the period of time that there are being set off is now around three weeks (two weeks before and one week after November 5). Shops can legally sell them from October 21.