Animal fear from fireworks set to escalate

Fireworks go on sale across the country today.

With many large-scale events cancelled due to COVID restrictions, the New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA) fears there will be an increased number of people using fireworks at home meaning fear and injury for animals will escalate.

NZVA Chief Veterinary Officer Helen Beattie, said its position on fireworks had not changed.

"The NZVA supports a complete ban on the private sale of fireworks" says Beattie.

"We want the sale of fireworks stopped because of the physical and psychological impact on animals". Animals are sentient creatures meaning they experience positive and negative emotions and fireworks promote anxiety, fear and often physical harm creating real animal welfare issues."

Every year, veterinary clinics treat animals that have been injured and traumatised by fireworks. This doesn't just impact pets; wildlife and stock are also affected, with some animals presenting with horrific and life-threatening injuries.

Unfortunately this issue isn't limited to Guy Fawkes night or Matariki. Although the purchase of fireworks by the public is limited to the four days leading up to Guy Fawkes, people buy and store them to use at other times. This means the impact that fireworks have on animals is year-round and unpredictable, making it more difficult to manage and support stressed and anxious animals.

"We encourage people to avoid buying and letting off fireworks altogether" says Beattie.

"Fewer fireworks mean less negative impacts for all affected animals."

The New Zealand Veterinary Association will continue to advocate to the Government for a complete ban on the public sale of fireworks. We also encourage people to continue to speak up on this issue themselves.

Dr Beattie says, "we all have a responsibility to minimise physical and mental harm to animals, and this includes harm caused by fireworks."

If your pet or another animal you see has been injured or traumatised by fireworks, seek advice from your vet.