Pet safety top of mind for Guy Fawkes

SPCA Dunedin canine attendant Gemma Mitchell with Kesh, who is available for adoption. PHOTO:...
SPCA Dunedin canine attendant Gemma Mitchell with Kesh, who is available for adoption. PHOTO: JESSICA WILSON
Dunedin residents are being urged to keep themselves, and their pets, safe during Guy Fawkes celebrations.

The city’s SPCA, Fire and Emergency NZ and police have called for safety and care when dealing with fireworks.

New Zealand research has shown that fireworks cause fear and distress to 75%-79% of cats, dogs and horses, SPCA Dunedin operations manager Hannah Taylor said.

The loud, explosions were unsettling for animals.

"That’s not a common sound that’s around every day," she said.

"We know that it’s going to happen — to them it’s just a random noise.

"They don’t understand."

Often, the psychological harm to domestic or farm animals leads to physical harm, as animals run in panic or hide, seeking safety.

Ways to make them feel safe included turning off the lights, keeping them in a secure crate or one room of the house, and giving them treats and positive reassurance.

"It’s a stressful time for all animals, including livestock."

The SPCA encouraged people to attend public fireworks events, rather than put on a private display.

The sale of fireworks is restricted to the four days leading up to, and including, Guy Fawkes. Today is the final day.

Fire and Emergency NZ fire risk management officer Mark Bredenbeck, of Dunedin, told The Star yesterday it had been a quite a couple of days, but that might not last.

People tended to "stock up" on fireworks and use them over a few weeks, Mr Bredenbeck said.

He urged people to be "ultra cautious".

Fireworks should not be used near houses, anything combustible or in windy weather, he said.

It was also important to have a fire extinguisher, bucket of water or sand nearby just in case something goes wrong, and to check the area afterwards.

Watch where fireworks land and wait half-an-hour before leaving, to make sure they have not sparked a fire, he said.

"Fireworks are obviously a fun time but also very dangerous."

Fewer alcohol-fuelled Guy Fawkes parties in recent years had resulted in less stupid behaviour in Dunedin.

Senior Sergeant Craig Dinnissen, of Dunedin, asked people to "be sensible and be safe" if celebrating Guy Fawkes tonight.

"Don't mix fireworks and booze."

FACT BOX

How to keep animals safe during 
fireworks:
  • Walk dogs during the day and keep cats indoors at night.
  • Create a safe space in your home for pets — away from windows and doors.
  • Comfort and reassure your pet.
  • Close curtains and blinds and play classical music or white noise.

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