This has to stop: rallying call to owners over fireworks menace *H&H Plus*

  • Every year, H&H reports on incident after incident of horses’ and owners’ lives devastated by the impact of fireworks. With New Year’s Eve approaching, we find out how you can help make a difference

    A RALLYING call has gone out to horse owners to help bring an end to the misery caused by fireworks.

    As Britain prepares to welcome a new year tonight (31 December), there is no doubt fireworks will be let off. There is also little doubt that the result, once again, will be horses, animals and people terrified, injured or worse.

    But change is coming about, Julie Doorne of the FAB firework abatement campaign believes.

    A Government petition will be debated in parliament next year; this will be the fifth time one of her group’s petitions has been debated, having been signed by more than 100,000 people.

    The most recent, calling for the sale of fireworks to be limited to organisers of licensed displays, has almost 280,000 signatures.

    “There’s obviously a problem,” Julie said. “People might think nothing happens from signing the petitions but it does. The

    Scottish Government has made changes, the Office for Product Safety and Standards has started a safety campaign, and is collecting data. That’s down to the campaign; they weren’t doing it before.”

    In Scotland, restrictive rules will be introduced for parliament to consider in the new year.

    And while signing petitions has undoubtedly helped make these changes, Julie said, there is far more people can do.

    She urged people to ask MPs to support an “early day motion” on fireworks, proposed by MP Sarah Owen; the motions are a way of bringing parliament attention to issues, and this one is calling for a review on firework law.

    “Complaining on Facebook won’t achieve anything, and signing a petition is good but not enough,” she said. “People have to write to their MPs, and keep doing it; I write to mine every week.

    “Then, when you get the standard reply, write back to say you know about the law, but the law isn’t working.

    “Report incidents to the British Horse Society and RSPCA even though they can’t do anything at the time, as their data goes to the Government. Report to councils and police; you can usually do this online under antisocial behaviour, then you get an incident number, and it will definitely be recorded.

    “The Government say they understand there’s a problem. They don’t understand the size of the issue because there’s nowhere to report legal firework use.”

    Keep at it

    “PEOPLE say the Government isn’t listening, so they don’t do anything, but that’s not the way to change things. If you want change, you have to keep at it.” Julie said.

    “We’ve got to keep knocking on the door and it will open one day.”

    RSPCA animal welfare expert Dr Mark Kennedy said: “All too often we hear heartbreaking stories of animals who seriously injure themselves in blind panic after being spooked by fireworks. Perhaps even more shockingly, we hear of animals being deliberately injured using fireworks. Enough is enough; we need tighter controls over sale and use of these potentially lethal explosives.”

    A Government spokesman told H&H: “We want the public to enjoy fireworks, but this should be done in a safe and considerate way. That is why we have robust laws in place controlling the sale, purchase and use of fireworks, to continue to promote their responsible use.

    “Fireworks should not be set off near animals or close to buildings that house livestock, or near to horses in fields. Deliberately causing any animal to suffer is an offence under the Animal Welfare Act and perpetrators could face a five-year prison sentence.”

    News editor’s comment

    EVERY year, from October onwards, we hear and see the heartbreak caused by fireworks.

    Just this year, H&H reported on the death of Flashy, who had just moved to her new home when she fractured her spine in terror of fireworks, and had to be put down.

    It is thought rare zebra foal Hope, whose birth at Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm, Bristol, during lockdown had been a beacon of hope in dark times, died instantly when she collided with a fence during a fireworks display.

    Dettori, a 21-year-old gelding, lost an eye after he was injured during fireworks, and five-year-old mare Kaprika was found standing over her aborted foal on 5 November, exactly a year after another of the same stud’s mares had suffered a miscarriage.

    These are just four we have heard about, this year, and whose heartbroken owners we have spoken to. In a recent Blue Cross survey of horse owners, 35% of respondents reported accidents as a direct result of fireworks, which included a pony who broke her neck and a horse who sustained a serious leg injury. Both had to be put down, and another pony died of a heart attack.

    Please, sign the petition, write to your MP, make it clear the effect fireworks have. This must stop.