Fireworks and pets Image RSPCA

Charity fears nervous animals will have to endure more fireworks displays this year due to lockdown and COVID restrictions on public events and large parties

The RSPCA fears this fireworks season could be the worst in decades for animals as more people opt for DIY displays at home due to COVID restrictions cancelling organised public events.

RSPCA polling found that 21% of UK adults plan to hold a private display at home this year and with 20% who plan to attend a private display at a friend’s or family’s home. This is nearly twice as many as in 2019 (11% and 12% respectively).

Every year, the RSPCA receives hundreds of calls about fireworks affecting animals. Over the last four years, the animal welfare charity has received 1,543 calls about fireworks. And its poll found 21% of UK adults reported owning, knowing or having heard about an animal that had tragically died as a result of fireworks.

This is why, in 2019, the charity launched its #BangOutOfOrder campaign calling for tighter controls and regulations around the sale and use of fireworks in a bid to help people and animals who suffer with fireworks phobias and noise aversion.

The campaign is calling for:

  • The restriction of the private use of fireworks to agreed traditional dates (November 5, New Year’s Eve, Chinese New Year and Diwali)
  • The maximum permitted noise level of fireworks for public sale to be reduced to 90 decibels. The current allowed level, 120 decibels (equivalent to a jet aircraft taking off) should only be used at licensed public displays
  • All public fireworks displays should be licensed by the relevant licensing authority and information about the proposed display must be provided in the local area several weeks in advance with a process for local residents to appeal against the granting of the licence. This process should also apply to people seeking to hold private displays at special events such as weddings
  • It would also like to see fireworks labelled as ‘loud’ or ‘low noise’ to allow consumers to make an informed decision if they do buy fireworks

The RSPCA found 85% of UK adults think public firework displays should be licensed. And there has been wide public support for calls for private displays to be limited to specific dates to reduce the impact on people and animals who find fireworks frightening and stressful.

But, animal welfare experts fear this could go out of the window this year as lockdown prompts the cancellation of public displays and people choose to set off fireworks at home instead.

RSPCA animal welfare expert Dr Mark Kennedy said:

“We understand that people enjoy celebrating Bonfire Night, New Year’s Eve and other key dates with fireworks and we don’t want to spoil the fun.

“Unfortunately, lockdown measures this year mean that very few organised, public displays are likely to go ahead and we suspect this means lots of families will be choosing to have their own displays at home.

“Due to the Rule of Six and the restrictions on households mixing, we fear that there will be lots of little displays taking place over weeks and weeks, spreading out fireworks noise and causing prolonged distress for animals.

“We’d urge people to be considerate and keep neighbours with animals, including those with nearby horses and other livestock, informed of plans well in advance so they can make preparations to reduce the stress to their animals.”

In the RSPCA poll, only 49% of UK adults say they think about the impact fireworks can have on local animals but 71% agree that the noise from fireworks can negatively impact their welfare.

To support the #BangOutOfOrder campaign visit the RSPCA website and send a letter to your local council to put forward changes.