According to Assistance Dogs UK, “Over 7,000 disabled people in the UK rely on an assistance dog to help with practical tasks – offering emotional support and independence.” These include guide dogs for the blind, hearing dogs for deaf people, assistance in disability and medical detection dogs. Additionally to the fully trained ones, many dogs support children with autism, people with dementia and people with mental health problems.
In so many ways, dogs improve people’s wellbeing, health and make them less socially isolated. And yet despite all that they do for humans, we repay them by regularly letting off fireworks that cause distress to at least half of them. The latest obsession with fireworks is now throughout December, when people may go with all the family, including the dog member of the family, to a switch on the Christmas lights event. One lady went with her dog and fireworks were unknowingly let off, leaving the dog in fear of going out for weeks after.
Most pet owners know of the terrible distress caused to animals because of fireworks. They don’t know what is happening, their hearing is more sensitive than ours and their fear can last for hours and days. All for a few minutes of very environmentally unfriendly chemicals and toxins thrown into the air for the sake of ‘fun’.
An example of how this impacts someone who depends on her assistance dog, in order to live life as normally as possible, is Ellen Watson. Ellen works as a clerk in the House of Commons and shared a video of her lovely labrador, Skipp, shaking with fear after the colourful rockets went off when they were out walking. The fireworks went off in the late afternoon the day before bonfire night and left Skipp rooted to the ground, shaking with fear and Ellen’s safety was at risk.
“This is my Guide Dog, on our way home from work at 5pm, rooted to the spot & shaking with fear after fireworks went off nearby. Not only do fireworks cause extreme distress for dogs & humans, they pose risk to disabled ppls safety. This has to stop. Fireworks NEED to be regulated pic.twitter.com/yAJs8rJZJV”
For Ellen, who is deaf blind after being diagnosed with Usher Syndrome, in order to fit around people’s random letting off of fireworks, Ellen had to change her work schedule and get home early on the days around fireworks. The challenge nowadays, is that these go on for months and now as per the example with Christmas lights, they are even in December and New Year – sometimes even Christmas Day. Shouldn’t society encompass everyone within it and be considerate of the needs of all? How wrong that Ellen has had to modify her life – which is already massively modified compared to how it was – in order to accommodate a few people letting off fireworks. We really need to start being more considerate. The general public needs to become more aware and therefore considerate of the impact of their actions.
At least half of pets, PLUS animals out in fields with no shelter are impacted by fireworks. Per our previous blogs, people with PTSD can suffer from them, as does the environment, through toxins and chemicals thrown into the air. It’s time to ban the sale of fireworks to the public in consideration of pets, assistance dogs, their humans, sufferers of PTSD and the environment. There are kinder, more considerate ways to celebrate and have fun. We don’t need to let them off at every opportunity – and particularly spontaneously when no one is prepared for them.
So when you are organising Christmas lights, New Year, or a wedding, please consider the substantial number of people impacted by your desire to celebrate – and whether it’s worth it, for the few minutes of pleasure you have. If you know people organising any of the above, please ask them not to let off fireworks in consideration for most people who are against them. This obsession with fireworks at everything damages our world, the animals and many humans that live in it. Please be considerate.