Opinion Former Article

RSPCA: Help this fireworks night go with a bang, not a whimper

Make this 5th November one animals will remember for the right reasons

With bonfire night fast approaching the RSPCA is urging revellers to spare a thought for animals and for owners to plan ahead if they have a nervous pet.

Although the number of fireworks-related calls received by the RSPCA decreased from 2010 (621) last year we still received 525 calls.  Almost 300 of these were received in November alone.  This year we have received 58 calls so far and this is set to increase as we enter bonfire season.

James Yeates, the RSPCA’s chief veterinary officer, said:  “The vast majority of calls are about animals which are scared of fireworks, so we’re urging those holding displays to think about giving people in their area plenty of notice of when they will be. We’re also urging people to go to organised displays and to avoid putting on displays near animals.”

An estimated 45% of dogs in the UK show signs of fear when they hear fireworks1 – meaning up to three million dogs could be affected this bonfire night2.

Firework phobia is a treatable condition for many animals, and the RSPCA wants to spread the message that pet owners do not have to watch their canine companions suffer every year.

This year, Pets at Home is holding fireworks awareness events in store on Saturday 20 and Sunday 21 October to provide advice on how to keep pets calm during the fireworks season.

Scott Jefferson, marketing director at Pets at Home, said: “It’s really important to prepare our pets before bonfire night, as many of them can become scared or anxious due to the loud noises. Our colleagues in store will be on hand to help advise customers on the simple things they can do at home to keep their pet safe and at ease. They can also talk customers through the range of calming products available in our stores.”

A few years ago in Derby an RSPCA inspector was on a night off during the fireworks season and saw a black Labrador run into a petrol station forecourt after being scared by fireworks.  He had run over the busy main road, but had thankfully been avoided by the cars and the inspector managed to return him to his grateful owner.

It’s not only dogs and cats that are affected, but those animals which are kept outside.  In one tragic incident last year, a pony died after desperately trying to escape the field he was kept in after a firework display was held just a few hundred yards away without his owner knowing.

Wildlife can also be affected – anyone holding bonfires should check them before lighting, as hedgehogs love to nest amongst the wood and material.

James Yeates added:  “Unfortunately every year the bonfire season seems to get longer and longer with fireworks being set off for several weeks around 5th November.

“If you can get along to one of the many big events rather than setting fireworks off in residential gardens where there are bound to be pets nearby, that really helps pet owners to plan as they know exactly when those events are and don’t have to worry in the build up and aftermath of bonfire night.

“Please do check your bonfires before you light them as they’re ideal hiding places for wild animals and there really is the potential to cause death or serious injury if you don’t take a couple of minutes to disturb the firewood before lighting.

“If you’re a pet owner you can also do your bit by looking into some of the therapy tools and products out there such as the Sounds Scary! CD which helps to acclimatise pets to the noises and products containing pheromones to help calm them.

“Also, keep animals inside and turn up your radio or TV to reduce the sound of the outside noises.”

For tips on how to help cats, dogs, outdoor and small animals please visit www.rspca.org.uk/fireworks.

-ends-

Notes for editors:

1.      Based on research commissioned by the RSPCA and conducted by the University of Bristol in 2005. Available on the RSPCA website at http://www.rspca.org.uk/servlet/Satellite?pagename=RSPCA/RSPCARedirect&pg=CADReportsandresources

2.      Pet Food Manufacturers Association statistics estimate that there are currently about 7.3 million dogs in the UK. Available at http://www.pfma.org.uk/overall/pet-pop-08-4.htm

 

RSPCA advice to keep pets safe and secure:

—  Make sure your dog or cat always has somewhere to hide if he or she wants to, and has access to this place at all times.  For example, this could be under some furniture or in a cupboard.

—  Close all windows and curtains at nightfall and put on some music to mask and muffle the sound of fireworks.

—  Never show any anger towards your cat or dog if they appear frightened – this will only convince the animal that there really is something to be afraid of.

—  Do not fuss over or try to reassure your dog or cat when they are frightened.  Try to ignore any fearful behaviour, unless there is danger that he/she may harm themselves.

—  Make sure your dog or cat is kept in a safe and secure environment at all times so that they cannot escape in reaction to a sudden noise.

—  If your pets live outside, partly cover cages, pens and aviaries with blankets so that one area is well sound-proofed. Make sure your pet is still able to look out. Provide extra bedding for small animals so they have something to burrow in.

  

RSPCA, Wilberforce Way, Southwater, Horsham, West Sussex RH13 9RS
Press office direct lines: 0300 123 0244/0288  Fax: 0303 123 0099
Duty press officer (evenings and weekends) Tel 08448 222888 and ask for pager number 828825
Email: press@rspca.org.uk  Website: www.rspca.org.uk

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