News & Press: NZVA media release

Veterinarians support a ban on fireworks

Wednesday, 25 October 2017  
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The New Zealand Veterinary Association supports a ban on the private use of fireworks.

New Zealand Veterinary Association Chief Veterinary Officer Helen Beattie says a ban would improve the welfare of animals.

"While we understand that many people enjoy fireworks displays, it is the role of veterinarians to advocate for what is right and good for animals in New Zealand. Animal welfare must always come first, and in this instance, despite human enjoyment, fireworks do not bring a welfare benefit to animals."

Dr Beattie says that every year veterinary clinics see injured and traumatised animals as a result of fireworks.

"Injuries from fireworks happen every year and they can be horrific. Veterinarians see animals that, as a result of their fear and panic, have escaped from their homes or paddocks and put themselves in danger’s way."

"Animals also experience anxiety and stress so the psychological harm is a significant component of their compromised welfare. New Zealand has led the world in acknowledging that animals are sentient in its Animal Welfare Act. We have a responsibility to ensure that we protect the psychological welfare of animals."

Unfortunately, this is not an issue that is limited to Guy Fawkes Night as people buy and store fireworks for use at other times.

"Veterinarians see animals with fireworks-related trauma year-round. This makes it even more difficult to manage and protect our more stressed and anxious pets. We do not believe that those who care about the welfare of animals would find that acceptable".

A petition presented to Parliament in August 2015 showed a shift in public attitudes toward fireworks. Dr Beattie said the NZVA was disappointed that the 25,000 signature petition was rejected by Parliament and will continue to push for a ban. She hopes that changing public attitudes, in support of animals, will help achieve a ban on the personal use of fireworks.

Until then, the NZVA encourages people to consider the impact that purchasing fireworks for private use can have on pets and stock near their properties and choose to view a public fireworks display instead.

"We also encourage the public to continue to speak up on this issue and speak loudly for those who cannot speak themselves - animals."

The NZVA’s top tips to protect animals during Guy Fawkes:

  1. Find out where and when fireworks will take place near you.
  2. Contact a veterinary clinic for coping advice if your pet has previously exhibited fear-related behaviour.
  3. Keep pets indoors, preferably with curtains drawn and windows closed to reduce noise.
  4. Turn on the radio or television to create a familiar sound which can be comforting.
  5. Remove anything in the room where you are keeping your pet that could injure them.
  6. Provide blankets and pillows for your pet to hide under if they wish.
  7. Take your pet to an alternative location for the night if necessary.
  8. Owners should remain calm and provide quiet reassurance to their pet.

"The use of private fireworks has been banned in Australia for many years and New Zealand needs to do the same."