SPCA New Zealand

SPCA supports Countdown’s move to stop selling fireworks

27 September 2019
SPCA supports Countdown’s move to stop selling fireworks

Media release: SPCA is thrilled with the news that Countdown will no longer sell fireworks this Guy Fawkes season.

SPCA has been pushing for a ban on the private sale of fireworks for many decades, and has been engaging regularly with local councils and government on the issue. SPCA has worked to educate New Zealanders of the dangers fireworks pose to pets, and has conducted extensive research on the topic. A 2019 multi-agency study led by SPCA found that the vast majority of New Zealanders support a ban on the public sale of fireworks.

SPCA receives dozens of calls relating to fireworks around Guy Fawkes, as pets become highly distressed by fireworks, and field reports of frightened animals, missing pets, and, occasionally abuse of animals are common.

In 2017, SPCA Inspectors investigated a sinister case of animal abuse after a duck was found left left dying in South Auckland after fireworks were thought to have been shoved in its mouth, destroying its beak.

Countdown revealed that there was a change in customer sentiment towards fireworks, with 71 percent of customers surveyed stating that animal welfare as their most common reason for moving away from fireworks.

“The loud noises and bright flashes of light can be very frightening to animals, leading to animals running away, injuring themselves, and becoming susceptible to traffic incidents,” says Andrea Midgen, SPCA CEO.

“SPCA is pleased with Countdown’s move to stop the sale of fireworks, and it is our hope that other retailers will show responsibility on the issue too. We encourage people to enjoy controlled public displays only, to avoid causing fear, injury, and disruption for animals.”

SPCA’s top tips for pet and livestock owners during Guy Fawkes season

  • Never let fireworks off close to animals.
  • Stay home with your pet – they will be less stressed with someone they trust close by.
  • Keep them indoors – they won’t see the flashes and the bangs will be muffled. Close doors and windows and draw the curtains. Turn up the volume on your radio or TV to help drown out loud bangs with familiar sounds.
  • Make sure that your cat or dog has somewhere comforting to hide such as an igloo, box, crate or somewhere they feel safe to retreat to.
  • Try a compression wrap for dogs, like a thunder shirt.
  • Exercise your dog early in the day to avoid being out during dusk when fireworks could be set off.
  • Both cats and dogs should be microchipped and have a collar and identification tag with your contact details on it. If your pet panics and runs away, it will help to reunite you with your pet.
  • Try to behave in a calm and reassuring manner. Take special care of elderly or nervous pets, but try not to cuddle your pet too much as this may encourage anxious behaviour.
  • Never punish your pets when they are scared. This will only make their fear and stress levels worse.
  • Move horses and farm animals away from fireworks. Make sure all fences are secure. Stable horses where possible. Do this well in advance so that the animals have a chance to get used to their new surroundings.
  • Don’t forget small pets like rabbits, guinea pigs or chickens. Have them tucked away or even inside for the night.

Keep in mind that for some animals, fireworks can be a real phobia and may need to be treated with medication. Speak with your vet for options before the fireworks start.

While the SPCA does not support the private sale and use of fireworks and has long called for a ban on the sale of fireworks to the public, those planning to set off fireworks in their homes should consider speaking to their neighbours, or leaving a note in their letterbox, so that those with pets and livestock can prepare accordingly.

People without pets must be aware of the stress their use of fireworks can cause others in their neighbourhood and act considerately. We also encourage people to attend controlled public fireworks displays rather than using fireworks at home.

Tips for people organising fireworks displays

  • People organising firework displays should let their neighbours know in advance. Put flyers in neighbour’s letter boxes. This will alert them to the need to make arrangements for their pets.
  • Organisers of large fireworks displays should place notices in local shop windows and inform local media.
  • Firework party organisers should concentrate on fireworks which explode close to the ground and don’t make particularly loud bangs or screeches. These are likely to cause less distress to animals.
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