Guy Fawkes: SPCA renews call to ban sale of fireworks to public

By Ophelia Buckleton

New survey backs further push to stop sales to public and have displays instead.
While people enjoy the fireworks festivities at Guy Fawkes, it can be very frightening for animals. Photo/Ben Fraser
While people enjoy the fireworks festivities at Guy Fawkes, it can be very frightening for animals. Photo/Ben Fraser

The SPCA is renewing calls for a ban on the public sale of fireworks.

The animal welfare organisation launched a survey this week, in conjunction with the Companion Animal Council, asking the public to share their animals' experiences with fireworks, to understand the impacts on our furry friends.

SPCA chief scientific officer Dr Arnja Dale said the survey had already received 1500 responses, with almost 90 per cent opposing the sale of fireworks to the public.

"This will give us an understanding of what is happening to animals New Zealand wide, so we have an evidence-based approach moving forward.

"We will publish the results and present them to Government to discuss feasible and realistic options."

The SPCA carried out a similar survey in 2005 - 89 per cent of respondents said their animals feared fireworks and 83 per cent (whether they owned a pet or not) supported a ban on the sale of fireworks for private use.

Dr Dale said the SPCA supports public displays but "we are way behind other countries" on the sale of fireworks for private use.

In Australia, the public can only legally buy fireworks in the Northern Territory.

The SPCA receives dozens of calls at this time of year relating to fireworks including frightened and injured animals, missing pets and occasionally, animal abuse.

"The loud noises and bright flashes of light can be very frightening and many animals become highly stressed," said SPCA acting chief executive Andrea Midgen.

"This can sadly lead to animals running away and going missing, injuring themselves or becoming susceptible to traffic accidents. We urge pet owners to keep their pets inside and safe on Guy Fawkes night."

The organisation is also concerned that public sales mean fireworks are let off long after Guy Fawkes.

In 2015, the Fire Service received 325 callouts, 213 of those in November - fireworks season.

National adviser of fire risk management Todd O'Donoghue said most of these were for nuisance fires, such as bushes, trees and bins being set alight.

"These occupy our resources a lot.

"We recommend people attend public displays, which are safer and far better value for money."

ACC figures show hundreds of people are injured by fireworks every year.

In 2013, 493 people made claims relating to accidents involving fireworks, with 441 making claims in 2014 and almost 500 last year.

The cost of these claims in 2015 topped $234,000.

A call to ban the private sale of fireworks, backed by the SPCA, Fire Service and Police, was lost in 2015 when the Government rejected a petition with more than 25,000 signatures.

Most towns and cities across the country will hold free displays tonight.

Today is the last day for the public to buy fireworks this year.

Tips from the SPCA to keep pets safe

• Never let fireworks off close to animals
• If possible, stay home to reassure and comfort your pets- they will be less stressed with company
• Close doors and windows to prevent your pets running away. Ensure they are microchipped or wearing a collar with up to date contact details in case they do escape
• Draw curtains to muffle the sound of fireworks and block out bright flashes
• Switch on the radio or television to distract your pets from loud bangs
• Cover cages/pens and aviaries of outdoor pets, with blankets for sound proofing
• Ask your vet about medication for anxious pets

Tips from the Fire Service to keep yourself safe

• Read the instructions on fireworks
• Light fireworks in wide-open spaces away from trees and bushes
• Keep a bucket of water or hose handy
• Fireworks, drugs and alcohol are a dangerous combination
• Be considerate of your neighbours and pets

- NZ Herald

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