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Owner of horse who broke spine joins mounting calls for tougher firework laws

More pressure is being put on the Government to introduce tighter controls over fireworks after a charity received 82 calls relating to frightened and injured animals in two weeks.

Mounting calls have been made from the Firework Abatement Campaign (FAB), MPs, individuals and charities.

The 2019 FAB petition, which received more than 300,000 signatures supporting a ban on firework sales to the general public, was debated in parliament on 2 November and the organisation’s 2020 petition has already had more than 213,000 names.

Emma James’ horse Flashy (pictured, top) died on Thursday (5 November) after she was spooked by fireworks in Shropshire.

The thoroughbred mare had just arrived at her new home from Newmarket.

“We’d been preparing for her arrival for months and she was delivered to the yard near our home on Wednesday afternoon (4 November). We checked her that evening and the following morning and she was fine,” said Emma.

“But later that day we had a call from someone at the yard saying she’d gone down in her field. We rushed down to her and found her collapsed in the mud, paralysed with fear. She had clearly been spooked and was very distressed; she was sweating, her paddock had been trashed and all the fencing was down.”

She added Flashy was “a fit and healthy youngster with a clean bill of health”, but had clearly been spooked by something that sent her “careering around her paddock and injuring herself”.

“It was Bonfire Night and I can only believe that fireworks were to blame,” said Emma.

“My 14-year-old daughter, Lola, sat and cradled her in the mud for hours until a vet arrived and we made the heartbreaking decision to have her put to sleep.

“Examinations later revealed that she’d fractured her spine and wouldn’t have been able to be saved. Flashy meant so much to us already, it was heartbreaking to lose her like this.”

A statement from the RSPCA said the charity is expecting more incidents over the coming weeks as sales and displays continue into Diwali before Christmas and new year.

H&H has already reported on a number of tragic incidents in recent weeks, including a mare who aborted her foal, a zebra foal who died after being spooked by fireworks, and a horse who lost an eye.

The RSPCA is calling for the use of fireworks to be restricted to agreed dates — November 5, New Year’s Eve, Chinese New Year and Diwali — as part of its #BangOutOfOrder campaign, which involved people lobbying their local council.

It is also calling for the reduction of maximum permitted noise level of fireworks for public sale (from 120 to 90 decibels); licensing of all public displays and private displays at special events such as weddings; and better labelling on fireworks so consumers can make informed decisions on buying “low noise” fireworks.

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“Fireworks are extremely stressful and frightening for many animals. Around 62% of dogs, 55% of horses and 54% of cats in the UK show signs of anxiety when they hear fireworks,” said RSPCA animal welfare expert Mark Kennedy.

“All too often we hear heartbreaking stories of animals like Flashy and Faye who seriously injure themselves in a blind panic after being spooked by fireworks. Perhaps even more shockingly, we seem to be seeing more incidents reported to our inspectors of animals being deliberately targeted and injured using fireworks. Enough is enough; we need tighter controls over the sale and use of these potentially lethal explosives.”

Sign the 2020 FAB petition

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