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Festive season cheer not enjoyed by everybody

Date: 16 December 2021 By: 

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For most people, Christmas and New Year’s Eve is a time of joy and happiness, but for others this is a time of dread. This is especially true for pet owners and their pets as people light up the night sky with fireworks.

The Louis Trichardt SPCA has once again called on residents to refrain from discharging fireworks or supporting those who sell them. Their plea is simple: “Say NO to fireworks!” The reason for this as that animals are far more sensitive to smells and sounds than humans, so the booms, bangs and whistles we experience are amplified and downright deafening to them. They become flustered and panicked and will do almost anything to escape – very often getting hurt in the process. “We’ve seen animals impale themselves on palisade fences as they try to escape the noise. Some are struck down by vehicles, while others are just absolutely scared stiff by the trauma after Joe Public’s party,” said local SPCA spokesperson chairperson Lesley Gaigher. 

According to the Explosives Act No 26 of 1956, discharging any firework in any building, on any public thoroughfare or in any public place or resort without prior written permission of the municipality (Section 10.34) is unlawful. Section 10.35 relates to public displays of fireworks and states that no person or organisation is allowed to present a fireworks display unless formally authorised to do so by the municipality (at least 14 days’ notice).  In terms of the Explosives Act, no person shall allow or permit any children under the age of 16 to handle or use fireworks except under the supervision of an adult person. Fireworks may also not be sold by street vendors, hawkers or at any informal open-air facility. Anyone who wishes to sell fireworks must be in possession of a valid permit issued in terms of the Explosives Act.

The dangers of fireworks for both humans and animals have been well documented, yet people persist with the activity. In an effort to try and minimize the impact this practice will have on pet lovers and their pets this year, the local SPCA asked for a meeting with local law-enforcement agencies, including the police and municipal traffic department, last week. Other stakeholders who attended included representatives of the rural safety structures and security industry.

Positive outcomes of the meeting included a commitment to step up inspections at shops to check for compliance regarding the sale of fireworks. A complaints protocol was also finalised. This entails that persons must ask for an incident report number when phoning the police’s charge office at Tel 015 519 4300 to report the illegal discharging of fireworks. Regarding this, some local security companies also pledged their support to the SPCA in monitoring streets.

“Although we might not see major changes this year yet, the meeting was a step in the right direction,” said Gaigher.

Gaigher said they knew they were facing an uphill battle to have the discharging of fireworks totally banned. “Thankfully, a lot of people have come to realise how incredibly inconsiderate it is to discharge these rockets of terror,” said Gaigher. She added that they were going to breathe new life into their Ban the Bang-project and for that they needed the community’s support by signing their petition.

In the meantime, Gaighergave a couple of tips for pet owners on how to keep their pets safe while fireworks are discharged:

* Firstly, and most obvious of all – do not support shops that sell fireworks and do not attend firework displays.  You cannot go preaching if you are a part of the problem!

* Choose to stay at home on New Year’s Eve – your family and friends will understand and support your decision.  You can always catch up later when the madness has passed.

* Make sure your pets are wearing an appropriately fitted collar and with a name tag and telephone number, in case a mishap occurs, and your pets are scared into fleeing.  Microchipping your pets is highly recommended.

* First prize would be for all your pets to be in your home with you, with the TV or radio on (at the normal level) to somewhat drown out the sounds from outside.  But if you simply cannot keep your pets inside, please make sure they have shelter, somewhere safe and comfortable where they can hide from the scary scents and noises.

* Distract pets showing slight signs of distress with some of their favourite things. Please, never punish your pet’s reactions to fireworks – this is not something they can control, and they look to you for comfort. If you act normal, they will hopefully take their cues from you and chill!

* If your pets are excessively distraught by loud noises, visiting your vet a few days in advance to discuss tranquilising or sedating options is advisable.

* Before letting your animals outside when nature calls, do a sweep of your yard to make sure no hazards are lying around.  Even spent fireworks contain harmful chemicals that can cause vomiting, diarrhoea and, in severe cases, seizures, tremors, liver and/or kidney failure if ingested.

To report animals in distress, injured or being abused this festive season, phone inspector Lawrence Khodobo at Tel 082 965 5151 or Alicia Thomas at Tel 084 900 5332.





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