Animals hate fireworks, and we should pay attention

By on July 3, 2017 with 7 Comments

Independence Day is the worst holiday of the year for Lily, my eight-year-old beagle mix. She reacts badly to loud, concussive noises at any time of the year, but when the Fourth of July comes around, she thinks it’s the apocalypse. Every bang and pop seems to run the length of her three-foot-long body, from nose to tail. She squares her ears, making the sound all the more acute, looks in the direction of the noise in a seemingly uncontrollable, self-destructive impulse, and then shivers and shakes. This behavior continues long after the smoke has cleared and the fireworks display is over. I hate watching her endure the stress.

My wife and I put a thundershirt over her stout frame, in hopes of reducing her anxiety. We turn up the music and television to drown out the bad noises with the innocuous ones. We put on Animal Planet or any show she likes. And to be sure, we keep her at home and in the room that’s best insulated from outside noises. We stay with her, because we don’t want her to have to deal with this clamor without the comforting presence of her family.

Like everybody else, I’ve always loved watching fireworks. But now I can’t help but see the display through the eyes of Lily and other animals.

If Lily were the only animal affected this way, I wouldn’t be nearly as concerned, and I’d be content with our efforts to comfort her. But many pets and wildlife have similar reactions. Shelters report all sorts of problems around the Fourth, including an influx of pets who were spooked by the fireworks, become escape artists, and dash from their homes.

Wildlife rehabilitation centers report a wide range of problems when people start setting off fireworks. “We’ve had mallards stuck in a fence trying to run away from fireworks,” Suzanne West, director of the Sarvey Wildlife Care Center in Snohomish County north of Seattle, told KING News. “We got several Steller’s jays that had been displaced from their nest and abandoned by their parents. Other birds will hit things and fly into trees. They become very disoriented. The amount of explosions and chaos and the smoke and everything, they’re not sure what’s going on. It’s a very scary situation especially for the babies.”

“They actually shake,” added Sarvey manager Jesse Paolello. “There’s explosions going on all over the place. They won’t eat. They won’t drink. They’re hiding in the corners of their cages.”.

On this Fourth of July, it makes sense not to bring your pet along on holiday travels to barbecues and other celebrations. For your animal, the alternative is an evening on the bed at home, with the TV on, and that’s a far superior option for most animals. Here are some tips on how to give your pet a safe and happy Fourth.

Mid-year is also a great time to double check your pet’s ID tags and microchip information and update or replace them as needed, and – as hurricane season rolls in — to come up with a disaster preparedness plan for your family and pets.

Indeed, let’s celebrate the Fourth of July with family and friends and with others in the community. But let’s put aside the private displays that invade our neighborhoods, educate kids about the hazards they create for animals, and take advantage of the organized public displays instead. The random explosions and pyrotechnics and the fleeting pleasures we take from them are just not worth all the stress and fear they induce in our pets and wildlife.

Companion Animals

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  1. Kathryn James says:

    Let’s not forget about our military vets as well. Many suffer from PTSD. The loud noises are stressful reminders of what they endured in service of our country.

  2. Sarah Engler says:

    THANK YOU! I was starting to wonder if anyone in this world besides me understood this obvious fact! What is the thrill of making gigantic noise?! No pretty colors, just horrible sound for HOURS!

    THANK YOU for being a voice for the helpless!

  3. Kat says:

    OMFG I HAAAAAAAAAAATE fireworks!!!! I hate them so much I don’t even have the words to describe my hatred. They scream ‘low rent, trashy people,’ and they’re terrifying to animals. Not to mention I detest the noise. And as someone who works for a living, I get no sleep at night because the unemployed happily set off fireworks til all hours of the morning.

  4. Kristin alexandre says:

    Our firework display in the New Jersey countryside was huge and long and I couldn’t stop thinking of the foxes, bears, bobcats, and deer not to mention the bird life that were horrified. It must have seemed as though the earth was coming to an end.
    But there is an upside. This is the first time in my life that I ever looked at fireworks through the eyes of our wild friends. I’m old. But usually when I think of something other people are thinking it as well

  5. Jenny says:

    They not only terrify our pets and wildlife but for the pollution they cause as well. I feel it’s such an uncivilized act but after all we aren’t a very civilized nation.
    Look at what we’re celebrating, the horific takeover of a beautiful land to destroy it for its resources and the slaughter and oppression of it’s native people.
    Why are we celebrating this???

  6. Sue says:

    Thank you for referring to wildlife – I never thought any more beyond dogs – what can be done about service dogs that accompany disabled people who want to be at the fireworks? We have a civic group in my town that puts on our 4th festivities and I recommended that from now on no dogs be allowed at the fireworks and I don’t think dogs or any other animal should be walked in our parade.

  7. Tommy says:

    With that same token, then fireworks stands might as well cease to exist. Many people partake in private displays on their property, or in the neighborhood because it is legal in many jurisdictions to do so. Many people, myself included like to buy 300 or 400 dollars worth of fireworks to put on display for everyone on the street, and my family. It’s a sign of celebration, and unity as Americans. Just this past 4th I bought a huge mortar and cannon box full of several different kinds of sky boomers. I got nothing but mad props from everyone.

    Not once did it cross my mind that any animal would be sensitive to the noise. Most people don’t think about that. It’s not something that will be going away anytime soon, and the fact it’s limited to 2 weeks a year, with 2 peak days a year, I don’t think 14 days out of 365 days would really hurt.

    Unless some kind of legislation was passed, I don’t see people stopping fireworks celebrations because some bird is going to fly into a tree. I’m not trying to be callous I’m trying to be realistic with how society is today.

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