Today the House of Commons will debate restricting the use of fireworks. Whilst the loud noises and colourful displays are a joy for some, for many dogs and their owners, firework season is always one they dread. A Dogs Trust survey of 3,750 pet owners found that two-thirds of dogs are worried by fireworks and that 93% of their owners alter their routine, such as walking their dogs only in daylight hours, to try to minimise the trauma on their pets.
Currently fireworks can be set off between 7am and 11pm every day of the year on private land. On Bonfire Night the cut off time is extended until midnight and on New Year’s Eve, Diwali and Chinese New Year, it is extended until 1am. While we have come to accept their use during these traditional periods, their unexpected use is an exacerbation of the untold fear many dogs suffer.
One owner who knows the effect fireworks can have on a dog is Dogs Trust Education Officer, Alison Gray. Alison adopted Labrador Cross, Mollie, from Dogs Trust in 2013 and Mollie has since become an Education Dog for the charity. Throughout the year Mollie accompanies Alison to schools to help children learn how to care for a dog and how to stay safe around them.
Mollie is a happy, relaxed, calm dog – perfectly suited to her education role. She doesn’t mind being around noisy children she doesn’t know and isn’t concerned by loud music or day-to-day unexpected noises that may cause some dogs concern. But sadly it’s a different story when it comes to fireworks, as Alison explains.
“She is petrified and it’s absolutely terrible to see. As a dog owner you spend your life making sure your dog is as happy as possible, avoiding any experience that you think may make them anxious. But when fireworks start going off it’s completely out of your control and the impact is heart breaking.
“She shakes with fear and cries. We do everything we can to try and help her, but she is terrified. As soon they start we close the blinds and curtains and give her additional places where she can comfortably hide and feel secure. We keep the TV on and have it louder than usual, turn radios on so whichever room she is in in the house there is something to help mask the noise and she wears a collar which releases pheromones which can help dogs during stressful situations. When it is firework season she sleeps between me and my husband, as that’s the only way any of us get any sleep.”
Dogs Trust continues to urge all dog owners to take preventative measures to prepare their dogs for the noise of fireworks and provides advice and support to dog owners to help keep their dog as stress-free as possible. We also offers a sound based treatment programme, The Sounds Scary Audio Therapy Programme , developed by veterinary behaviour experts Sarah Heath and Jon Bowen, which prepares dogs for distressing noises, such as fireworks, by playing specific noises to enable dogs to get used to the sounds and cope better.
Ahead of today’s debate, we have asked MPs to show their support for this motion. We are calling for the introduction of further restrictions around the sale of fireworks, limiting them to licensed, public occasions at certain times of the year to help protect animal welfare, whilst allowing those who enjoy them to continue to do so, but out of the way of many of man’s best friends.
Fireworks petition launched after horse spooked to death reaches 100,000 signatures MPs will debate restricting the use of fireworks after a Lincolnshire woman's petition attracted more than 100,000 signatures. Oasby resident Julie Doorne set up the petition due to the huge effect random outbursts of fireworks have on pets and other animals. The petition has been signed by 104,038 people after being launched last October.