More than half of local authorities across Wales have introduced measures on fireworks to help protect animals – with North Wales leading the way.
RSPCA Cymru has welcomed the latest local authority in Wales – Isle of Anglesey – agreeing a number of actions to help mitigate the impact of fireworks on animals. An RSPCA-backed Notice of Motion has been passed unanimously by Councillors. It comes as animal owners brace themselves for Chinese New Year celebrations on 1 February.
It comes as RSPCA Cymru said it fears for “terrified” pets amid more home firework displays as official displays are cancelled again due to Covid.
They have urged local authorities to raise awareness of animal distress.
A recent poll by the RSPCA found 44% of adults were planning to do their own firework displays compared to 25% who said they planned to attend an official fireworks event.
A total of 14 out of 22 councils in Wales have now acted – which includes all of North Wales’ local authorities – with Isle of Anglesey joining Conwy, Denbighshire, Flintshire, Gwynedd and Wrexham. Other counties in Wales who have taken the measures include Caerphilly, Carmarthernshire, Neath Port Talbot, Pembrokeshire, Newport, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Swansea and Torfaen.
This follows the RSPCA’s #BangOutOfOrder campaign which supports more controls over fireworks displays. As part of this campaign, RSPCA Cymru urges Councils across Wales to adopt a Notice of Motion, committing the local authority to introducing voluntary or localised measures aimed at increasing public awareness of the impact of fireworks on animals, encouraging the use of quieter fireworks and further encouraging the advertising of displays taking place on Council-owned land to enable animal owners to make preparations to protect their animals.
RSPCA Cymru’s public affairs advisor Billie-Jade Thomas said: “It is absolutely fantastic news that the Isle of Anglesey has become the latest local authority in Wales to do their bit to help protect animals in their community.
“Fireworks are extremely stressful and frightening for lots of animals and they can also cause very serious injury and even death to some.
“It means all of North Wales councils’ have now undertaken measures to reduce the impact of fireworks on animals and are really leading the way across Wales – and the United Kingdom.”
The RSPCA said it feared a surge of unofficial displays close to homes with pets were less likely to have safety measures in place or to have notified the local area.
Over the past five years, the RSPCA received 1,621 calls about fireworks across England and Wales, and it fears this year could be worse if many more people go ahead with displays in their gardens, as expected.
Anglesey County Council’s Planning and Public Protection Portfolio Holder, Cllr Richard Dew, said: “We understand that firework displays are enjoyed by many residents during events and celebratory occasions. However, we are also very conscious that loud, unexpected noises can cause fear and distress to vulnerable people and animals.
He added, “I’m proud that we are able to lead on these changes and support the RSPCA with their campaign. The changes we are making will benefit many of our residents, their pets and the Island’s wildlife without reducing the enjoyment for those who still want to attend or host displays.”
This week fireworks are expected to celebrate the Chinese New Year (1 February) with animal owners bracing themselves for potential disruption.
Billie-Jade added: “As people celebrate Chinese New Year this week, we really do urge them to be mindful of animals when it comes to fireworks.
“Please use common sense and make sure they are kept well away from any animals, especially those kept outside. If you are aware of livestock or horses nearby you could contact their owners to notify them of when they are going to take place so they can make arrangements to ensure they are safe.”
This year the RSPCA launched an incident reporting form to gather intelligence on the impact fireworks were having on domesticated pets, horses and livestock. Over 11,000 responses were received by the charity from members of the public describing the impacts.
Pets, horses and livestock can all be affected by loud bangs and bright flashes of light, putting them at risk of injuring themselves on fencing, farm equipment or fixtures and fittings within their housing.
Wildlife can also be seriously impacted by bonfires and fireworks. Wild animals, like hedgehogs, are at risk of being burnt alive after making their homes inside bonfires and piles of leaves, while some birds will flee their nests or whole colonies can disappear due to noise disturbance.
Back in November in 2019, RSPCA officers were called out to Bryn Celyn, Holywell, to help a horse called Harry who had been found impaled on a fence post having been spooked by fireworks and needed emergency veterinary treatment.
Incidents like these are why the charity launched its #BangOutOfOrder campaign and continues to call on the remaining eight local authorities in Wales to act. The charity also calls for the UK Government to introduce tighter controls and regulations around the sale and use of fireworks in a bid to help both animals and people who suffer with fireworks phobias and noise aversion.