The first bang woke me up at abut 9 pm last night. The second bang followed shortly, and about an hour later I was lying in bed, fists clenched cursing at all the idiots in our area letting off fireworks over and over again.
Firstly, the sound of a firework is about as appealing as a car backfiring or a shotgun going off. Nobody wants to hear the sound of your jumping jacks late at night and I can almost guarantee nobody wants to wake up in a flat panic to the sound of gunfire outside their bedroom window. In South Africa. One of the most crime riddled countries in the world.
If I , as a human being, despise the sound so much, imagine how all the animals (domesticated and non) must feel. The sound of a firecracker to a dog is 10 times louder than it is to a human. If we jump up in fright at the sound I can only imagine the terror it must cause in a pet.
My pets are spoilt. They sleep upstairs in their bed, under the covers and have us to love and comfort them in times of distress. Picture the other 99% of animals who don’t have that sort of protection – stray cats, dogs in shelters, pets who sleep outside, pets whose owners choose to let off fireworks in their own homes and wildlife – from birds, to bats to dassies.
Yes, according to SA law there are 11 days of the year when fireworks are legal, this includes Guy-Fawkes and Diwali. Did you know, however, that even though these days are legalised there are still rules to obey if you are planning on using fireworks?:
“Unless special Council authorisation has been applied for and granted, there are only 11 days annually when residents are allowed to “light or ignite” fireworks. Guy Fawkes and Divali are such days. (R 500 fine on other days).
Except for New Year’s Eve, the only permissible time period for igniting fireworks on these days is between 19h00 and 22h00 (7 to 10 pm). (R 500 fine at any other time).
No person may light or ignite fireworks in any place where animals are present (R 1 000 fine). This includes domestic homes.“
– Extract from www.environment.co.za
I’m willing to bet that none of the scum in my complex and surrounding houses bothered to obtain permission or follow these rules.
Sies on every single person who actively ignored all living creatures and instead chose to let off fireworks for their own pleasure.
With Guy Fawkes coming up tomorrow, there’s bound to be more nose and fireworks, so if you are the owner of a pet, who is displaying signs of being in distress:
- Eyes wide
- Frantic movement
- Barking excessively
- Hiding in places they don’t normally go
- Trembling, shaking
- Cannot relax
Then here are some tips for keeping them stress free and calm throughout:
Arrange to have your dog in a place where there won’t be loud fireworks displays — a friend’s or relative’s home or a doggie day care with which your dog is familiar. If it’s an unfamiliar place for your dog, take him over there a few times in the days before the holiday so that it won’t be a surprise when you take him there on the Fourth.
If you cannot take your dog to a place away from fireworks, then have a travel kennel at home for her to feel safe in. if you’re not going to be home, have a friend or sitter there to keep your dog company and take her out to relieve herself every four hours.
The best way to prepare your dog for fireworks is to make sure he’s comfortable with the sound in advance. While this is a simple process, it can take time — possibly three or four months of playing the recorded sound of fireworks for your dog at an increasingly louder volume before he eats, before a walk, before affection and play, and condition him by association to hear the sound and interpret it as something good. While you can try this method over only a week or two, in such a short time span it should only be used in conjunction with one or more of the other tips. In any case, play the firework sounds.
If you do find it necessary to use medication to calm your dog during the fireworks, remember that you must introduce any such tool at the right time, conditioning your dog to understand that the medication is there to bring them to a calm state. This means that you must bring your dog to that calm state first, then introduce the tool — before the fireworks and the anxiety begin. If she is already at an anxiety level of 8 or 9, then her mental state will overrule the medication.The challenge is knowing how and when to connect the two.
If you are going to be with your dog during the fireworks, sending the calming message that they are nothing to worry about will also help him to relax. Remember, though, while humans communicate with words, dogs communicate with energy, and will look to their pack leader for clues on how they should behave. If you’re not making a big deal or showing excitement about the fireworks, then he will learn to be less concerned as well.
In all cases above, expend your dog’s excess energy first, before the fireworks start, by taking her on a very long walk to tire her out and put her in a calm state. Most importantly, don’t think of this in terms of your dog as your child who is missing out on a great, fun time. That’s human guilt. Your dog won’t know what she’s missing. You’re being a good pack leader by not exposing her to a situation that will trigger her flight instinct in a negative way. When the booms and bangs of Independence Day are over, your dog will be grateful for you having made it a less stressful experience.
Extract from Cesars Way
It’s also a good idea to encourage your complex or neighborhood to alert the residents if and when there are going to be fireworks and to prep your home and pets before.