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SPCA welcomes firework regulation change

Thursday, 1 November, 2007

SPCA New Zealand has welcomed the reduced time available for purchasing fireworks, saying this could help reduce the terror experienced by animals on and around Guy Fawkes' Night.

But the SPCA says that new regulations will be judged a failure if substantial quantities of fireworks are stockpiled for later usage.

Fireworks go on sale tomorrow for a period of just four days and will only be available to people aged 18 or over. This compares with last year's ten day purchasing period and age limit of 14 or over. New regulations also govern sales of sparklers, which are now only available in packages with other fireworks.

"The period around Guy Fawkes' night can be very frightening for animals. Most of them have much more sensitive hearing than humans but, obviously, have no idea why the bangs, flashes, hisses and booms are occurring. A frightened animal can bolt in terror, get lost, sustain injuries and even lose its life in a road accident, perhaps endangering human lives in the process," says SPCA New Zealand National Chief Executive, Robyn Kippenberger.

"We hope these regulations will help limit firework usage to a brief period on either side of Guy Fawkes' night and to parties organised and superintended by responsible adults," she says.

"However if people purchase large stocks of fireworks over the next few days and keep them for future use, the benefits of the regulation change will be negligible. The pattern in recent years has seen firework use continuing throughout November and December, reaching a crescendo on New Year's Eve.

"Whilst the SPCA recommends that companion animals be kept indoors to prevent them being frightened by the fireworks, it's clearly impractical to do this every evening for several months, just in case fireworks are being set-off locally. Advising neighbours who own animals of your intention to use fireworks would no doubt be appreciated. They can then take steps to protect their pets."


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.