The hearing ability of animals is seven times more sensitive than the average human. It is said that some animals can hear a grasshopper eating so ultimately a firecracker going off next to an animal is equivalent to a bomb detonating close to a human being.
A fear of fireworks is a common phobia for dogs. The loud, unpredictable noise and flash of light can be frightening and may result in panic attacks, erotic behaviour or worse, instant death.
The Good hope Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals[SPCA] are calling on all Capetonians to consider the terrifying effects fireworks has on animals ahead of the upcoming Guy Fawkes festivities. The Good Hope SPCA spokesperson Belinda Abrahams said they oppose the use of fireworks for a number of reasons.
“The loud and unexpected noise frightens dogs and in their attempt to escape the sound. They tend to run in the opposite direction from which the sound comes from. This is a great concern to us as in many cases these dogs land up in front of cars and serious bodily harm or instant deaths occurs,” says Abrahams.
In some cases, animals run and fetch the lit fireworks in the same manner that they would run and fetch a stick, which results in the fireworks deploying in their mouth.
“Cruelly, some individuals find it entertaining to attach fireworks to animals,” Abrahams adds.
The effects the noise has on animals can be long lasting and can result in nervous aggression and damage causing behaviour.
One of the most important ways to prepare your animals for Guy Fawkes Night takes place earlier during the day or a few days before the fireworks start.
Pet owners can take their dogs for long walks, which might tire them out and cause them to sleep throughout the night. You can also desensitize your dog to the sound by recording and playing a video in which fireworks can be heard, this will familiarise your dog to the sound.
In the event of your dog not adapting to the sound, don’t push your dog beyond their comfort zone. If you see your dog is hiding under the bed or sofa, leave them.
In the case of a severe phobia, speak to your veterinarian about medication that can be used to calm your dog.
A frightened dog may attempt to run away and seek shelter if forced to attend a fireworks display. It is advisable to keep all pets in a closed environment during this period to avoid your pets running away. Many animal shelters report a high rate of lost pet incidents around Guy Fawkes Day. All pets must have identification by means of chips or name tags so if they do get lost, it would be easier to return them to their rightful owners.
In terms of the Animal Protections Act, it is very clear that it is illegal to terrify animals.
GUY FAKES DAY IN CAPE TOWN
Don’t get caught on the wrong side of the law: safe sites to discharge and enjoy fireworks.
It is a criminal offense to discharge fireworks outside the designated areas. City’s Alderman JP Smith encourages all citizens to abide to the law and ensure the safety of their pets and other Capetonians.
The designated areas are as follows:
• Tourism centre at Bloubergstrand beach
• Westfleur sports field in Atlantis
• Athlone Stadium parking lot
• Bishop Lavis sports field
• Metropolitan sports field in Bonteheuwel
• Delf central sports ground
• Swartklip sports complex
• Serepta sports complex
• Maidens Cove parking area in Camps bay
• Strandfontein pavilion
• Macassar beach parking area
• Blue Downes sports field
Fire officials will be at all the sites to ensure the safety of all citizens taking part in the festivities. Those who refuse to adhere to the law will be fined up to R2500 and will be dealt with according.
To report any illegal displays of fireworks, contact 0214807700.
VOC (Loushe Jordaan)