RSPCA launch campaign to restrict the use of fireworks

The RSPCA has launched a campaign to restrict the private use of fireworks on all but four days of the year.

A Change.org petition has already generated thousands of signatures since it was set up on October 16 and the RSPCA is joining calls urging people to email the UK government.

Figures from the RSPCA show hundreds of calls from concerned animal lovers – about animals including tarantulas and pythons, as well as dogs and horses – are made about fireworks every year to the charity.

In 2011, the RSPCA received 255 calls regarding fireworks, which has steadily risen to a peak of 533 in 2017. In the last five years the charity received 2,300 calls about fireworks.

An RSPCA survey from February this year shows that 38% of dogs are fearful of loud noises such as fireworks, meaning that thousands of animals lives are made a misery by fireworks each year.

Two UK government and Parliament petitions set up by Julie Doorne from the FAB Firework Abatement campaign have quickly reached more than 100,000 signatures from people wanting to see a restriction in firework use.

In January 2018, the UK government set up the Office of Product Safety and Standards following two Parliamentary debates, about the negative impact of fireworks, many months on, there has been little movement on this issue.

RSPCA campaign manager, Eloise Shavelar, said: “Clearly there is widespread public concern about the issue as can be shown by the previous petitions backed by the RSPCA.  There is current legislation in place, but the RSPCA believes the Fireworks Act 2003 and the Fireworks regulation 2004 doesn’t go far enough.

“We want to see the UK government take advantage of the public’s feeling on this by strengthening the existing acts and restricting the use of fireworks to traditional days of the year like bonfire night. To be clear we are not calling for a restriction to public displays, but it is the unexpected noise which owners cannot plan for which we want to stop.”

Sadly, it’s not just cats and dogs and other household pets that are affected by fireworks. Horses and farm animals can easily be frightened by loud noises and sudden flashes of bright light, which can startle them and cause them to injure themselves on fencing, equipment or, in the case of stabled or housed animals, on fixtures and fittings within their enclosures.

Although it is possible to treat firework phobias in some species, such as dogs, the RSPCA believes if pet owners knew when to expect the fireworks it would help them to prepare their pets, so they were better able to cope.

The animal welfare charity wants to see the private use of fireworks restricted to certain days; November 5, New Year’s Eve, Chinese New Year and Diwali.

The RSPCA would also like to see the maximum permitted noise level of fireworks for public sale reduced from 120 decibels – above the human pain threshold for noise – to 97 decibels. This is likely to further reduce stress to animals.

Lisa Hens, RSPCA welfare expert, said: “Firework phobia in pets is a treatable condition and we recommend seeking advice from your vet. There are also some simple things worried owners can do to help their pets cope, including making sure dogs and cats are kept securely indoors, trying to mask the noise of the fireworks by turning on the TV or music, and providing pets with a safe place to hide at all times.

“Small animals that live outside should have lots of extra bedding so they can burrow and some of their enclosure should be covered by a blanket for extra insulation and sound-proofing.”

For more information and resources about how to reduce stress in animals during fireworks season, you can visit www.rspca.org.uk/fireworks. If you would like to get involved with the campaign, visit www.rspca.org.uk/fireworksaction.