RSPCA Cymru wants to see the use of fireworks limited to agreed traditional dates – such as Bonfire Night, New Year’s Eve, Chinese New Year and Diwali – after receiving more than 150 calls in five years related to animals and fireworks.
Between 2013 and 2017, the charity received 152 calls across Wales from people concerned about the negative effects of fireworks on animals. The majority of the calls came from within the country’s capital, Cardiff.
The charity is now bracing itself for more calls this evening as the UK celebrates Bonfire Night but fireworks have already been heard across Britain for the last few weekends and could continue for several more.
Avoiding walking dogs in the evening, playing masking sounds and providing safe spaces for pets to hide are among the practical steps pet-owners can take to mitigate welfare risks. However, with fireworks being set off on days outside of the normal dates, this makes it difficult for owners to prepare for a night of loud noises which could leave their pets feeling distressed.
Earlier this year the UK Government set up the Office for Product Safety and Standards following two Parliamentary debates about the negative impact of fireworks but the RSPCA wants to see further action.
The charity also supports moves to reduce the maximum permitted noise level of fireworks for public sale to 97 decibels – fireworks louder than this would only be used for licensed public displays – and for all public displays to be licensed by the local authority, with information about the display made available in the local area so owners can prepare.
Lisa Hens, RSPCA companion animal welfare expert, says, “As people across Wales prepare to celebrate Guy Fawkes Night, we’re issuing an important reminder about the problems fireworks can cause for pets, farm animals and wildlife.
“Some 38% of dogs show signs of fear at loud noises, while other pets, farm animals and wildlife can all be impacted negatively by firework displays.
“In Wales, over the last five years – from 2013 to 2017 – we’ve received 152 calls flagging concern for animals amid fireworks; and we’re preparing ourselves for more in the coming days.
“Fireworks can lead to serious welfare concerns for many animals, but noise phobia is a treatable condition in pets. Giving owners time to prepare is a key step in mitigating these risks.
“That’s why the RSPCA backs ensuring displays always fall on dates like Guy Fawkes Night, New Year’s Eve, Chinese New Year and Diwali.
“Crucially, we are not calling for a restriction to public displays – but instead, we want to see an end to the unexpected noise which owners cannot plan for. Having set days where displays can take place is obviously vital in ensuring people know when they have to take such extra precautions.
“Decision-makers could also reduce the maximum permitted noise level of fireworks for public sale to 97 decibels, comparable with the sound of a slamming door. Fireworks louder than this should only be used for licensed public displays.
“We know Bonfire Night can be an exciting time of year – and believe these key steps will ensure the occasion is safer for our animal friends.”