Traumatised dog injured running in front of car as fireworks go off

Vets are calling on retailers to stop selling fireworks after a rescue dog bolted and was hit by a car after she was spooked by fireworks.

Crossbreed Penny, a mix of Pug and King Charles Spaniel, ran off just when her new owner thought she’d successfully settled into her new home.

Penny was rushed to Vets Now in High Wycombe where emergency vets administered pain relief and treated her for injuries. Now Sandra is supporting emergency vets’ calls for retailers to stop selling fireworks to take account of the terrible distress and injury caused to animals each year.

The Vets Now campaign, launched last week is already gaining momentum, with 83% of more than 3400 people polled supporting a ban on fireworks sales. In an open letter, Dave Leicester, head of telehealth at Vets Now has issued a plea to supermarkets and convenience stores to take immediate action to prevent animals being traumatised and injured on and around bonfire night.

Members of the public can back these calls by signing a change.org petition here.

Every year millions of pets are traumatised by fireworks, sometimes with tragic consequences. Many of these are caused by ransom displays, and there are fears of an upsurge in unsanctioned fireworks displays across the country this year.

It comes amid mounting concern that the cancellation of large-scale, professional events brought about by the coronavirus pandemic could cause a rise in amateur fireworks displays in gardens and streets.

Sandra said: “People were letting off fireworks and the noise was just awful. Penny was terrified and it was like she was back to how she was when I rescued her from Green Acres dog rescue charity in Pembrokeshire.

“Her jaw was shaking, and she was panting heavily. I drew all the curtains and turned up the sound of the TV to try and distract her. About 8:30pm the noise had finished for a while so I went outside and checked very carefully to make sure I couldn’t see or hear anything. Then, just as I was letting her out onto the lawn as normal to do a pee, a banger went off what felt very close by and Penny bolted. I was beside myself with worry and I was calling and calling her, but she didn’t come back.”

Thankfully the people that found Penny wrapped her in a blanket and called Sandra’s phone number which was on the tag on her collar.

Sandra took Penny to the Vets Now emergency clinic in High Wycombe where the team checked her over, administered pain relief and bandaged her bruised leg.

Penny was well enough to return home that night, but when the firework noise resumed the next day, the dog was do distressed, her owner had to visit the vet to get a prescription for a sedative.

Dave Leicester, Head of telehealth at Vets Now explained that Penny’s case was typical of the type Vets Now see on and around bonfire night.

He said: “Fireworks can be hugely distressing for pets, livestock and wildlife, especially when they’re let off unexpectedly. They are also too noisy and too easily available. To reduce the distress caused to pets we urgently need supermarkets and other retailers to take action and stop selling fireworks for private use.

“We believe fireworks should only ever be used by professional operators in organised displays around traditional dates, such as bonfire night.”

The RSPCA have estimated that 45% of dogs in the UK show signs of fear when they hear fireworks, and with a surge in puppy ownership during the year’s lockdown, vets are also concerned that many new pet owners might not be aware that their pet is scared.

Dave Leicester added: “Every year in our emergency clinics we see the heart-breaking reality of seemingly-harmless fireworks displays – pets burnt or hit by cars after being spooked, others bolting and going missing, sometimes never to return, self-inflicted, life-changing injuries caused in a moment of panic, and sadly also deliberate, malicious firework injuries.

“As organised local fireworks displays are likely to be cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, more people will look to hold their own private displays using fireworks. This will lead to even greater risk than in previous years.”

To find out more about what you can do to help prepare and calm your pet in the run up to fireworks, and to view the open letter, visit the Vets Now fireworks hub.