Parliament to Discuss Reducing Number of Firework Displays and Maximum Decibel Levels in Interests of Pet Welfare

In the UK, the pet owning community is petitioning Parliament to debate the reduction in the number of firework displays throughout the year to a maximum of four and the maximum permitted noise level of fireworks on public sale to be reduced from 120 dB (equivalent to a jet aircraft taking off at hundred metres), to 96 dB.

We need quiet fireworks for our cats
We need quiet fireworks for our cats
Until September 7th I will give 10 cents to an animal charity for every comment. It is a way to help animal welfare without much effort at no cost. Comments help this website too, which is about animal welfare.

The RSPCA is backing an online petition started by Julie Doorne, which has reached over 100,000 signatories ,enough to force parliament to debate it. It’s a great petition but I am a little disappointed in the government’s response thus far (I nearly always am).

The response from government so far is poor probably because it supports business over the interests of companion animals which is not unusual for politicians:

“Although there is some use of fireworks outside the traditional periods, we believe that the majority of people who use fireworks do so at the appropriate times of year and have a sensible and responsible attitude towards them. There are no plans at the moment to place further limitations on their use.”

They are wrong as usual and disconnected from the public and their wishes.

Thousands of cats and dogs are distressed by fireworks every year. I totally agree with Julie when she said:

“The use of fireworks is getting out of control – while no one would want to stop people having fun or celebrating special dates like New Year’s Eve, the celebrations are going on for weeks during autumn and winter.”

Worried cat
Worried Cat

The use of fireworks has increased tremendously over the last 20 years. There are far more private firework displays than ever before. It is these private displays which are causing problems amongst the pet owning community. The petition calls for the private use of fireworks to be restricted to 4 days where they have special significance either religious or culturally: November 5 (Bonfire Night), New Year’s Eve, Chinese New Year and Diwali. If Parliament passes legislation reflecting the desires of the supporters of this petition (highly unlikely) then it would mean families would be banned from hosting firework parties at weekends around Halloween and Bonfire Night when November 5 fell on a weekday. Parliament will debate this petition on 6 June 2016.

We are told by the RSPCA that 45% of dogs are fearful of fireworks. Fireworks makes their lives miserable. I am convinced that a very similar percentage of cats suffer in the same way. It is important for cat and dog owners to know when fireworks will be set off so that they can make plans and preparations to help their pets cope.

I’ve always felt, by the way, that people who set of fireworks in dense urban neighbourhoods are very selfish. They cannot have companion animals themselves and they ignore the effect that their pleasure is likely to cause distress amongst animals owned by their neighbours. Last year I had to remonstrate with neighbours living almost a mile away because of the excessive use of fireworks.

In addition, farm animals are affected. They can easily be frightened by loud noises and sudden flashes of bright light which startles them and which can lead to injuries. In addition wildlife is also affected. There are not infrequently cases of wild animals being burnt alive after making their home in bonfires.

To stress, the problem is the proliferation of private firework displays by individuals, in their back gardens, around the usual times when fireworks are set off which greatly extends the period through which pet owners and their pets have to suffer. It is a great irritation to cat and dog owners.

The RSPCA’s campaign manager said:

“The RSPCA believes the Fireworks Act 2003 and the Fireworks Regulations 2004 don’t go far enough. We want to see the government take advantage of this by strengthening the existing acts and restricting the use of fireworks to traditional dates of the year like Bonfire Night.”

You might think that this is the wrong time of the year to write about restricting the number of firework parties that take place in the UK. I don’t believe it is the wrong time. It is the right time because it is too late when the fireworks season is upon us, later in the year.

How to Protect Pets from Noise

The RSPCA recommend that owners of cats and dogs make sure that their companion animals have somewhere to hide such as under furniture or perhaps in a cupboard. They also state that it may be advisable to put individual cats and dogs who are inherently more calm with a cat or dog who is distressed because it can offset the stress.

They also recommend that music can help to drown out the loud noises. Owners can play with a toy to see if the dog wants to join in. This may distract the dog. Keeping dogs and cats in, in the evenings, is also advisable when fireworks are being set off.

It goes without saying that scared pets whose behaviour as a result may be difficult for the owner to accept should not punish the companion animal. That just makes things worse. They also recommend that it is possible to teach your puppy how to be less scared of fireworks by gradually exposing him/her to records of different noises. The sounds can be downloaded from the Dogs Trust website.

I don’t know how bad fireworks are in the USA. I suspect that they are not as bad as they are in the UK. In the UK, as mentioned, there has been a gradual but quite distinct increase as reflected by an increase of 50% of phone calls to the RSPCA over the period 2011 to 2015. The RSPCA has received almost 1,500 calls from worried owners over the preceding five years.

The source of this information comes from the Times newspaper which was slightly misleading and the government website.

4 thoughts on “Parliament to Discuss Reducing Number of Firework Displays and Maximum Decibel Levels in Interests of Pet Welfare”

  1. The problem is that the laws already are on the books making private (without the benefit of a permit) fireworks displays illegal. It’s not just selfish to shoot off fireworks in dense urban areas, it’s illegal. More laws won’t help because the current ones are already ignored.

    Professional displays are possibly going to continue to get louder because noise is cheaper than color when it comes to fireworks shells and the price of shells seems to be going up in general. Plus, municipalities are often facing budget cuts.

    Most of the shows my husband and I work on every year have been getting smaller every year. Some have seen reduction in the size of the shells because of new construction in the area. You need seventy feet per inch of shell of clearance all the way around the staging area.

    The camp show that we actually help pay for (instead of getting paid to shoot it) does tend to be noisy because my husband can get more product that way for a longer, though noisier, show. I don’t really like the noise but the crowd does. The noisy shells, called salutes, are more dangerous. But the entire show is electronically fired now at least.

    I do enjoy fireworks. Not most of the consumer grade stuff and not in the hands of the irresponsible. But the pyrotechnicians we work with are very safety conscious and have a passion for what they do. It’s hard, dirty work. We put in a 22 hour day working one show, by the time it was all cleaned up and we got home! But the result of our work can be beautiful.

    One of Jeff’s friends is truly an artist with fireworks and we enjoy what he comes up with for our employee “clean out the bunker” party in the fall. Even those who don’t really like fireworks would enjoy that show, especially hearing his thought process behind how the show is designed.

    I think in the United States there are probably more remote rural areas where shows can be put on without bothering many people because there are so few residences nearby.

  2. Fireworks here on the 4th of July are horrible and continue through the early morning.
    My whole routine is disrupted. I’m up all night with my cats inside. Most are out of their minds scared. I’m outside checking on the ones out there that are cowering and desperate to hide somewhere.
    However, to my delight, some that would never come inside race in during this. But, that attests to the sheer fear that they have of what’s going on.
    I drive around about every hour to check on my feral colonies just to give them a familiar voice and, hopefully, a little comfort.
    I wish that it was all outlawed.

    • It is outlawed. The laws are just not being enforced. Even for professional shows they have to start the show by a certain time. All consumer grade fireworks require a permit issued by the municipality in which they are being used, even sparklers. None of that is legal without the benefit of a permit, at least in my state, and I think most states are the same if not stricter. People are getting hurt, they risk setting fires and yet police just look the other way.

  3. This is good news-I hope the vote passes Parliament for this petition to be held on 6 June 2016. My cats are afraid of firework sounds and also,thunderstorms.It’s raining hard here in Tennessee.

    Eva say’s


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