Renewed calls to ban the public sale of fireworks in New Zealand have again been made on the eve of the country’s Guy Fawkes Night celebrations on November 5.
On Wednesday morning, the Government’s administration select committee meeting will formally review a petition signed by more than 28,000 people calling for a ban on the sale of fireworks to the public. Ironically, it is the morning of Guy Fawkes,and marks a year to the day that the petition was first posted.
The petition has the backing of the Police, Fire Service and SPCA, all of whom have to deal with the aftermath of the celebrations. Pets and animals are particularly vulnerable to fireworks. Over the years there have been several cases of horses losing their lives after spooking and running through fences and other structures as a result of fireworks.
For many horse owners, the event is an annual nightmare, particularly those whose horses are kept near built-up areas. Where possible, it’s recommended to keep horses with their usual paddock mates and in the same routine, giving plenty of hay to keep them occupied. If possible, contact neighbours and ask them to direct their fireworks away from your horses and property.
Other tips, from insurance company Pet N Sur, include
- Make sure the area where the horse is kept in is secure by checking stalls, doors, fencing or other enclosures.
- Don’t leave stalled horses alone. If at all possible the horse should have physical and/or visual access to its neighbours.
- Do not tie your horse. It could rear back in a panic and injure itself.
- Don’t take the risk of riding your horse when fireworks may be set off.
- If your horse is of the extremely nervous type, you can ask your vet in advance for some sort of calming or tranquilizing drug to be administered.
- If possible, stay near your horse if you are unsure how it will react to fireworks noise. Your presence should have a calming effect. Even if your horses seem relaxed, check them throughout the evening.
- Sometimes ear covers may make a difference.
- Although it’s too late for this year, programs that desensitize a horse to loud noise, sudden movement and other fearful experiences are available.
Fireworks are sold for the four days up to Guy Fawkes, and after the first night of sales there were 15 fire service callouts resulting from fireworks incidents.
From this year fire stations around the country are recording every firework-related event as part of a national initiative.
Update: Another petition created after Guy Fawkes night is in memory of a horse named Jaffa, who broke his leg after being frightened by fireworks on November 5. He was euthanised the next day. Sign the petition.