Pet safety stressed before fireworks

Fireworks and bonfires will light up the sky this weekend at Guy Fawkes celebrations in Weston and Waimate, but the SPCA is cautioning residents to take precautions with their pets.

With the annual Weston School Fireworks display poised to celebrate its 10th year tonight, organisers said they had their fingers crossed for a fine evening after high winds forced the event to be rescheduled two years ago. MetService is forecasting a southwest change with rain for Oamaru tonight.

Event organiser Kirsten Welsh said this year would be "bigger and better" than ever, with $7700 worth of fireworks primed to go off.

Mrs Welsh said the event, which would feature a magician, the Waitaki Girls School Dance Club and an ice-cream-eating contest, hoped to raise about $20,000 for Weston School.

"It's a huge night for our community and it's a well-supported family event, the children look forward to this every year."

• The Bushtown Waimate heritage group is holding a bonfire tomorrow. Bushtown Waimate secretary Ann Dennison said although it was not possible to have fireworks at the Bushtown Heritage Site this year, because of the number of trees, there would still be a bonfire and guy.

Mrs Dennison said the event, which would raise money for the Bushtown working history site, would include plenty of entertainment, with fire-eaters, music and refreshments and competitions.

"This year, just to get the thing going for a family evening, we have the entertainment coming up, guy competitions, games for the kids and cake stalls on the Bushtown heritage site."

She said it was hoped that next year "cold spark" fireworks could be used.

North Otago SPCA president Aveley Gameson said although everyone wanted to have fun at the weekend, it was important that pet owners took precautions to keep animals safe.

"Make sure they are secure in their homes. A couple of years ago we had a very sad case with a maltese dog, who as soon as the door was open, because they were so frightened, ran out and straight across the road and was run over. So it's securing your pets, even if it is just putting them in their favourite bedroom and shutting the door.

"They don't understand and they will just take flight, and this is where the tragedies happen with animals, because they are so frightened."

Pet owners should also talk to neighbours to find out what time they might be having their own back-yard fireworks displays, she said.

andrew.ashton@odt.co.nz