RSPCA urges government to tighten controls around fireworks

The RSPCA is pilling pressure on the government to bring in tighter controls around fireworks after a number of shocking incidents in which animals were attacked with fireworks or died having been spooked.

The charity has received 82 calls related to animals and fireworks during the fireworks season so far (26 October -9 November). There have also been a number of shocking deliberate attacks on animals as well as incidents in which animals have died as a result of being spooked or frightened by fireworks.

And the charity is expecting more incidents over the coming weeks as sales and displays continue into Diwali this weekend (14 November) before Christmas and New Year.

Dozens of dog owners reported their pets cowering in fear or uncontrollably trembling for hours, while other revealed their dogs had bolted in a panic. Four separate incidents of cats and kittens were being strapped to lit fireworks were reported across the country.

An RSPCA spokesperson said: “We were contacted on 2 November after a cat was killed in Rotherham, South Yorkshire when a firework was attached to him and lit. On Bonfire Night itself we were made aware of two incidents – one in Bradford, West Yorkshire and one in Kenilworth, Warwickshire – in which fireworks had been strapped to kittens before being set off. And on Friday (6 November), the burned body of a cat was found strapped to a firework in Queensferry, Wales.”

On Saturday 7 November, in Kent a fireworks went off less than 1m from RSPCA inspector Rosie Russon who was walking back to her van after collecting two tiny kittens. The two-week old kittens – now named Tiny Tim and Nancy – were being looked after by a member of the public who had found them abandoned. It’s not known whether the firework was a misfire from a nearby display or had been thrown directly at Rosie as she tried to help the kittens.

Emma James, rom Broseley in Shropshire has backed the #BangOutofOrder campaign after her young horse, Flashy (pictured above) died after being spooked by fireworks.

She said: “Flashy came from a very successful lineage of racing horses in Newmarket. We’d been preparing for her arrival for months and she was delivered to the yard near our home on Wednesday afternoon (4 November). We checked on her that evening and the following morning and she was fine.

“But later that day we had a call from someone at the yard saying she’d gone down in her field. We rushed down to her and found her collapsed in the mud, paralysed with fear. She had clearly been spooked and was very distressed; she was sweating, her paddock had been trashed and all of the fencing was down.

“Flashy was a fit and healthy youngster with a clean bill of health. She had clearly been spooked by something which sent her careering around her paddock and injuring herself. It was Bonfire Night and I can only believe that fireworks were to blame. My 14-year old daughter Lola sat and cradled her in the mud for hours until the vet arrived and we made the heart breaking decision to have her put to sleep. Examinations later revealed that she’d fractured her spine and wouldn’t have been able to be saved. Flashy meant so much to us already, it was heart breaking to lose her like this.”

The RSPCA are calling for the use of fireworks to be restricted to agreed traditional dates (November 5, New Year’s Eve, Chinese New Year and Diwali); the reduction of maximum permitted noise level of fireworks for public sale (from 120 to 90 decibels); licensing of all public displays and private displays at special events such as weddings; and better labelling on fireworks so consumers can make informed decisions on buying ‘low noise’ fireworks.

RSPCA animal welfare expert Dr Mark Kennedy said: “Fireworks are extremely stressful and frightening for many animals. Around 62% of dogs, 55% of horses and 54% of cats in the UK* show signs of anxiety when they hear fireworks.

“All too often we hear heartbreaking stories of animals like Flashy and Faye who seriously injure themselves in a blind panic after being spooked by fireworks. Perhaps even more shockingly, we seem to be seeing more incidents reported to our inspectors of animals being deliberately targeted and injured using fireworks. Enough is enough; we need tighter controls over the sale and use of these potentially lethal explosives.”

To support the #BangOutOfOrder campaign, visit the RSPCA website and send a letter to your local council to put forward changes.