A month after the official retail sales period for fireworks, many neighbourhoods are still reverberating to noisy fireworks. The myth of ‘one days fun’ is being discredited by records collected online by a group of animal welfare campaigners. Stress, injury and even death of animals are being reported throughout the year, particularly when fireworks or pyrotechnics are used without warning.
Although fireworks supporters often claim “it’s only one day”, there is no ban on letting off fireworks to coincide with the restricted retail sales period. Pyrotechnics companies are encouraging stockpiling for later use, and also providing free fireworks as prizes outside of the retail sales period. This latest data shows that fireworks are not just a once a year thrill for some, and that unnotified and random use of both retail fireworks and commercial pyrotechnics were causing harm to animals and humans all year round.
76% of survey respondents reported fireworks outside of the 1 week period surrounding Guy Fawkes night. 26% of people reported fireworks for the entire 3 month period from November to Jan (Guy Fawkes to New Year), and 11% of people reported concern for fireworks all year around (365 days a year). Concerns were also raised about the increasing number of private events using commercial scale pyrotechnics, that are being held in rural areas without notifying stock owners.
The group of horse owners in Rodney who campaigned for greater care this year under the group name “Ban the Boom NZ”, are particularly saddened by the deaths of 2 more horses from this years inconsiderate fireworks users. It was the death of another horse, from an unnotified commercial pyrotechnics display earlier in the year, that provided the catalyst to form the group.
During 2013, 33 reported injuries or deaths of animals, and 47 had suffered animal injury or death in previous years. Common injuries included stock being impaled on or slashed by fences, often during unnotified events sometime before or after the ‘official’ Guy Fawkes date. Dogs and cats were more often subject to injuries from running in panic, including being run over, or crashing into walls and windows in an attempt to escape.
63 respondents who reported “no physical injury” for 2013, still reported harm to their pets or livestock such as stress, often seen as vomiting, running away, hiding, damage to paddocks, uncontrollable shaking, or defecating. This was despite 54% of respondents purchasing sedatives or other calming products for their pets to prepare them for fireworks. Of particular worry for rural and lifestyle areas was the effect on pregnant mares and young stock; both the equine and deer breeding seasons run into November.
Even though the database idea was hastily put together, and not well publicised 130 incidents were logged over the past month. The data shows that the experience of year round fireworks is common, and that annual campaigns for responsible fireworks use are failing to curb irresponsible use. The group hope that their evidence in addition to Fire callouts, ACC injury statistics, and other animal data collected by the SPCA and NZ Veterinary Association to amend the current regulations to reduce the continued harm to animals from fireworks and pyrotechnics.