A new law giving the government regulatory powers over fireworks has successfully passed through Parliament. The law provides a framework for the government to exercise control by restricting the sale and use to certain times, by licensing public displays, and setting maximum noise levels.
The Animal Welfare Fireworks Coalition, formed of Battersea Dogs Home, The Blue Cross, Guide Dogs, The Kennel Club, NCDL, Pet Care Trust, the RSPCA and Wood Green Animal Shelters, has been campaigning for the introduction of the new law.
A coalition spokesman says: “We are delighted this historic opportunity to prevent the widespread suffering of thousands of animals has come to fruition. We hope that as a result of this new law and subsequent regulations, thousands of people around the UK, their pets and working animals will have an improved quality of life.”
The exact restrictions have yet to be decided upon, but the coalition hopes that a number of things will be taken into consideration. Matt Grainger of The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, which is forced to spend thousands every year retiring and re-training dogs traumatised by fireworks, lists some of the anticipated results.
“We would like to see effective licensing of retailers; categorisation of fireworks with different regulations for each category; licensing of public displays; a curfew on the public use of fireworks and a maximum noise level on fireworks,” he says.
Fireworks can cause serious or fatal damage to animals. “We have reports of horses bolting out of control onto the road, and pets running away in fright and not returning,” explains a spokesperson for the RSPCA. “There are also cases of deliberate misuse – fireworks being thrown at dogs, or even tied to their tails. If fireworks are not so widely available, we hope there will be a reduction in both deliberate and unintentional cruelty.”
The widespread use of fireworks has increased annually and is no longer confined to a specific time of the year. This makes it harder for pet owners to know when to take precautions, says Matt Grainger. “Some people sedate their dogs on bonfire night, but this is no longer a practical solution as fireworks are used so frequently,” explains Matt.
“It is really good news that the government has shown its support,” says the RSPCA spokesperson. “Pet owners usually do their best to ensure their animals come to no harm, but it is often impossible to predict when fireworks will be used. This law should dramatically decrease the amount of animal trauma caused by fireworks.”