DEBATE: Are tighter controls on fireworks needed to protect dogs?

A fireworks display in Sussex
A fireworks display in Sussex
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One of the UK’s largest dog welfare charities is appealing to MPs to support restrictions on the use of fireworks to protect animal welfare.

A petition by the Firework Abatement Campaign attracted more than 100,000 signatures and suggested that current regulations were ‘outdated and largely ineffective’.

It argued that there was a need to restrict firework displays to traditional dates around Bonfire Night, New Year’s Eve, Diwali and the Chinese New Year celebrations.

The subject is due to be debated by MPs in Parliament early next month.

Charity Dogs Trust is supporting further restrictions around the sale of fireworks, limiting them to licensed, public occasions at certain times of the year.

Paula Boyden, Dogs Trust veterinary director, said: “For many dogs and their owners, firework season is always one they dread.

“A Dogs Trust survey of 3,750 pet owners found that two-thirds of dogs are worried by fireworks and that 93 per cent of their owners alter their routine, such as walking their dogs only in daylight hours, to try to minimise the trauma on their pets.”

According to the charity, currently fireworks can be set off by any adult between 7am and 11pm every day of the year on private land, such as in a garden, or on land where the owner’s permission has been given.

On Bonfire Night the cut off time is extended until midnight and on New Year’s Eve, Diwali and Chinese New Year, it is extended until 1am.

The charity is also asking local authorities to give more consideration to the location of public fireworks displays when granting licences and to ensure they are well publicised in the local area so dog owners can avoid them.

Ms Boyden added: “The current law offers no support to dogs and their owners, with fireworks legally set off often unexpectedly all through the year.

“We sincerely hope Members of Parliament take this opportunity to extend restrictions on firework sale and use and help protect the welfare of many scared dogs.”

Dogs Trust urges all dog owners to take preventative measures to prepare their dogs for the noise of fireworks and offers advice and support to dog owners to help keep their dog as stress-free as possible.

The charity has worked with vets Sarah Heath and Jon Bowen to offer a free sound based treatment programme, The Sounds Scary Audio Therapy Programme.

The programme prepares dogs for distressing noises, such as fireworks, by playing specific noises to enable dogs to become used to the sounds.

What do you think of the proposals? Comment below or email the newsdesk.

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