As the days grow shorter, and the nights grow darker, many people across Scotland look forward to one of the last outdoor celebrations of the year – Bonfire Night. Before revellers get too excited about the festivities and start stocking up on fireworks, the Scottish SPCA would like to issue a warning about the potential harm these celebrations can cause animals. Domestic pets, livestock and wildlife are all at risk from the fear fireworks can create but there are simple steps which can be taken to minimise the problem.
Sharon Comrie, Deputy Head of the Scottish SPCA’s Uniformed Division said: “Around this time of year, the Society receives a large number of calls from concerned members of the public regarding fireworks. These calls range from queries about caring for distressed pets, to reporting crimes against animals.
“The morning after Guy Fawkes Night is also one of the busiest of the year for the Society’s Animal Welfare Centres. We see a large number of dogs and cats being brought into our Animal Welfare Centres and the majority have bolted in fear from their homes and gardens.
“For those planning a fireworks display, the Society suggests the use of quiet fireworks. Light displays are much less likely to frighten animals than the use of loud fireworks, which can go up to 120dB, the same level of noise as that produced by a jet engine.
“This year, remember to be considerate. Please make sure to tell neighbours in advance of any display. We are not trying to be killjoys – fireworks may be a lot of fun for people, but they can be a real cause of terror for animals of all types.
“We would also like to urge members of the public planning to build a bonfire to consider the local wildlife. Small animals such as hedgehogs and mice may crawl into a cosy looking pile of wood and brambles thinking that they have found the ideal place to hibernate. We have heard of far too many sad cases where these animals have been burnt alive.
“Please be vigilant, and if you are having a bonfire, build it as close to the time as possible before setting it alight. Another tip is to surround the pile with chickenwire and sand, which will reveal tracks of any animals that may enter. And always double check for wildlife before finally lighting the bonfire.”
“Pet owners will naturally be concerned about their own animals being distressed by firework displays but there are preventative therapies available. De-sensitisation CD’s can help them become used to the sound of fireworks. DAP (Dog Appeasing Pheromone) diffusers or sprays, if used regularly for at least ten days earlier, can also reduce the likelihood of a pet becoming stressed. They are odour free but discharge a synthetic version of the pheromones mother dogs release in first few days after giving birth. Cat equivalents are now also available and these can be purchased from various veterinary surgeries or pet stores.”
“If you know that fireworks displays generally cause distress it is well worth taking the time to explore these options. This should be a safe and fun time for all the family – pets included.”