It's a tradition more than 400 years old. But these days Guy Fawkes is less about the past, and almost entirely about the big bangs. And for the SPCA, it's their busiest night of the year.

"Certainly, around this time of year, approaching Guy Fawkes as well as the time shortly afterwards, we'll experience quite a significant rise in calls to our animal reporting line specifically in relation to lost animals," said SPCA Inspector Jason Blair.

"We find a lot of dogs go missing over that period, either Guy Fawkes night or the day after."

There's also an increase in animals being disturbed or stressed, and getting injured in the process. So what can pet owners do to make things easier for their fur babies?


"Really it's about comforting them, keeping them safe," Blair said. "Putting them in an environment where they're going to be looked after and not likely to injure themselves or run away. A lot of the time if you can bring an animal inside, if it's a small companion animal, close the curtains, put on the radio or TV and distract them from what's going on outside."

Should the worst happen and your pet runs away, identification is the best way to be reunited.

"If they do run way then having an animal microchipped or if it's wearing a collar with identification on it, then that's the best way it's going to be returned to you really promptly."

It's not just household pets that suffer at this time of year either.

"We've had horses that have run into fences and had injuries that way. We've had stock that have broken through fences that they normally wouldn't do and then on to railway tracks and collected by trains. We find animals in positions where they obviously wouldn't have got to unless they were very scared," said Blair.

Fireworks are only sold for the three days leading up to November 5 and opinions are mixed on whether they should be sold at all.

"It's only three or four days out of a whole year that they're actually allowed to be sold," Maverick Beauchamp, 18, from Te Puke said. "People are doing a good job of keeping it like it is but they should be more restricted."

Fireworks retailer Bronwyn McVeigh says most people are responsible but it's a few giving everyone else a bad name.


"It's been around ever since we were kids and to have that spoilt for the next generations would be sad," she said.

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The SPCA supports a ban on the public sale of fireworks.

"Displays should be limited to those public displays where they're notified and people have the opportunity to plan for that and are not taken by surprise," Blair said.

He says another problem is those who stash fireworks away for a later date.

"People withhold their stock and it again happens on New Year's Eve, but even all through that time, it's really difficult for animal owners to prepare in perpetuity for that sort of experience."

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