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Keep Animals Safe from Fireworks


For Release: 11 October 2006


SPCA issues checklist to help reduce terror

(Checklist Attached)


The Royal New Zealand SPCA is appealing to the owners of animals to make sure they are safe during the firework season.

The Society has also issued a checklist to help owners reduce the terror and distress caused by fireworks and to minimise the harm done to animals.

"The period around Guy Fawkes' Night is simply awful for animals. Most of them have far more sensitive hearing than humans but they have no idea why the bangs, flashes, hisses and booms are occurring. No wonder they get terrified," says the Royal New Zealand SPCA's National Chief Executive, Robyn Kippenberger.

"Last year, there was a huge increase in firework sales and a similar increase in the incendiary quality of the fireworks. The louder the fireworks' bangs and screeches, the more likely animals are to try to bolt in terror. If they're not prevented from doing so, they can end up lost, in danger or under the wheels of someone's car.

"Another disturbing trend of recent years has been the extension of firework use into December, reaching a crescendo on New Year's Eve. This is making it much harder to protect animals than was the case when firework usage was restricted to a few days in early November.

"However, there is some good news. This could be the animals' last season of terror, as the Hon. Marion Hobbs is working on a private member's bill to be introduced into Parliament. We look forward to the final draft of the bill, which will, we hope, ban all usage of fireworks other than for licensed public displays," she says.

"In the meantime, we need to do all we can to make this year's firework season as safe and free from terror as possible for both pets and farm animals. Our checklist is intended to help achieve this goal," Robyn Kippenberger adds.

At the top of the SPCA's list is a reminder that fire works should never be let-off close to or around animals.

Recommendations for owners include keeping animals indoors whilst fireworks are going-off, ensuring doors are securely shut to prevent animals bolting in panic and making sure dogs and cats have their collars on, just in case they manage to get out and then go missing.

The SPCA also suggests that someone should stay with the animals to calm them and that radios, televisions and stereo systems should be left on to drown out firework noise.



Guy Fawkes Checklist

1. Never let fireworks off close to animals.

2. If you are a pet-owner and don’t absolutely need to go to a Guy Fawkes Party, think about staying home to re-assure and comfort your pets. There will be many other nights when you can go out without causing distress.

3. The next best solution is to find a reliable person who will stay with your pets and look after them in their familiar surroundings.

4. The third best solution is to take your pets to the home of someone whom you know for certain will look after them and will be there to reassure them when the fireworks start.

5. Whichever solution you adopt, make sure that your pets are indoors throughout the evening and that they can’t see or hear the fireworks.

6. Exterior doors and windows should be secured to prevent your pets escaping and running away in terror.

7. Interior doors and curtains should be closed as this will help muffle the sound of the fireworks and prevent your pets being startled by the sight.

8. It’s a good idea to switch on the television, radio or stereo to distract your pets from the sound of the fireworks. If there’s no human present to look after the animals, it’s even more important to leave the radio or television on for them.

9. If a frightened animal hides under furniture or in a cupboard, don’t try and coax it out. You will only be adding to its distress.

10. Make sure that your dog or cat has a collar on, just in case they get out and are panicked by the fireworks.

11. Dog collars should have a registration disk firmly attached and cat collars should have a contact telephone number and an elastic insert to prevent strangling if the cat gets hooked up.

12. If your dog or cat is elderly, nervous or has a known heart condition, speak to your veterinarian before Guy Fawkes Night over whether a light sedative would be a good idea.

13. If you have a particularly nervous dog or cat, you might like to consider placing your pet in a reputable boarding complex over the Guy Fawkes weekend. Some boarding facilities have regular bookings each year for animals who hate fireworks.

14. Livestock owners should move their animals away from areas where firework parties are likely to take place. They should do this well in advance so that the animals have a chance to get used to their new surroundings. Horses may be particularly sensitive to loud noises and owners may wish to advise their neighbours if their horse is likely to panic and to suggest they celebrate elsewhere.

15. It’s important for livestock owners to make sure that paddocks are well-fenced and secure before the fireworks start. Frightened farm animals who get out of their paddocks can harm themselves and can also cause road accidents.

16. People organising firework displays should let their neighbours know in advance. One way of doing this is to put leaflets in your neighbours’ letter boxes. This will alert them to the need to make arrangements for their pets.

17. Organisers of large firework displays should also place notices in local shop windows and local newspapers.

18. Firework party organisers should concentrate on fireworks which explode close to the ground and don’t make particularly loud bangs or screeches. These are likely to cause less distress to animals.


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