Fireworks terror for Borders animals

As November approaches the Scottish SPCA is urging the Borders public to be careful and considerate when holding firework displays to help avoid animals becoming stressed and injured.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 26th October 2010, 8:07 am

Scottish SPCA chief superintendent Mike Flynn said: “We would urge anyone holding a firework display to be thoughtful by warning neighbours, particularly in rural areas, in advance so they can make the necessary arrangements for their pets.

“The noise from fireworks can cause panic in livestock and horses which can result in serious injury if they try and bolt through fences.

“Domestic animals can also run off if they are not kept safe inside and can be seriously injured in road accidents.

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

The charity also recommends that pet owners should take steps to minimise the distress that can be caused to their animals by fireworks.

Chief supt Flynn advises, “All pets should be kept indoors after dark including animals in outdoor hutches, with the curtains closed and televisions or radios left on to provide a distraction from the loudest fireworks.

“The current legal noise limit for a firework is 120 decibels and humans are advised to wear ear protection when exposed to noise above 80 decibels. A typical pneumatic drill would measure around 100 decibels.

“People can forget that a dog’s hearing is twice as sensitive as a human’s and a cat’s is three times as sensitive.”

Scotland’s animal welfare charity would like to see a change to the laws on the sale of fireworks and their unlicensed use in public.

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 5 November, New Year’s Eve, Chinese New Year and Diwali.

Chief supt. Flynn explained it’s not a total ban on fireworks that the charity wants to see, but a restriction on the days it’s legal to use fireworks and tighter laws on the sale of them.

“Because the current legislation is so relaxed, fireworks can and are being set off on any given day and for weeks and months on end rather than being limited to the major festival periods.

“This leaves pet owners unable to make adequate safety provisions for their animals.”

The Scottish SPCA charity believes there should also be changes on when fireworks can be sold. At present, fireworks can be sold from October 15 to November 10, from December 26-31 and on the days of Chinese New Year and Diwali and the three preceding days.

Chief supt Flynn said, “I cannot stress enough that we’re not saying fireworks should be banned, we’re just asking that a more responsible approach to the welfare of the nation’s animals is taken.”

Scottish SPCA posters highlighting the dangers of fireworks are available to be displayed in local communities. To request copies please phone the Scottish SPCA Animal Helpline on 03000 999 999 and select Option 5. Alternatively email [email protected], providing the address for posters to be sent to.