Shearer the much-loved pet killed after being spooked by fireworks (Image: RSPCA)
Shearer the Border Collie dashed into the sea after being frightened by the bangs and flashes of fireworks set off on a public beach. His body washed ashore 70-miles away the following week.
With the RSPCA witnessing record numbers of calls coming through about the impact of fireworks on animals, campaigners are revealing details of Shearer’s untimely death to show why “private use” of fireworks should be restricted to certain days: Bonfire Night, New Year’s Eve, Chinese New Year and Diwali.Stephen Scott had taken nine year old Shearer for a beach walk near his home in Whitley Bay, North Tyneside, two years ago, when an unofficial fireworks display erupted.Terrified, Shearer sped off to a spot where even more fireworks were being let off and then ran into the sea.
The owner camped out for a week hoping to find the beloved pet but to no avail.
“It was public land and they shouldn’t have been letting off fireworks,” said Mr Scott on the eve of Bonfire Night. “Even now, thinking about it is extremely distressing.“Shearer was our family dog and we miss him every day. There is a local fireworks display this year using silent fireworks. I don’t see why that can’t be rolled out everywhere to save the distress of pet owners.” Two out of five dogs are fearful of the loud bangs and whizzes from fireworks, according to a recent RSPCA survey, and over the past six years the charity has received more than 2,300 calls and complaints about the impact they have on pets, livestock and wildlife.
Two out of five dogs are frightened by fireworks (Image: GETTY)
MPs have twice discussed calls for restricting fireworks and more than 300,000 people have signed a new petition by Julie Doorne, from the FAB Firework Abatement campaign, calling for an urgent review of regulations to prevent “needless animal suffering”.
Animals as diverse as tarantulas, pythons, horses, cats and dogs have all been left feeling the tremendous shockwaves of fireworks. While pets are left shivering with fear, livestock can be startled by explosions and flashes, causing them to bolt and crash into fencing or equipment.RSPCA campaign manager Eloise Shavelar said: “Clearly there is widespread public concern about this issue as can be shown by the previous petitions backed by the RSPCA. There is current legislation in place but the RSPCA believes the Fireworks Act 2003 and the Fireworks regulation 2004 doesn’t go far enough. “We want to see the UK Government take advantage of the public’s feeling on this by strengthening the existing acts and restricting the use of fireworks to traditional days of the year like Bonfire Night.“To be clear we are not calling for a restriction to public displays but it is the unexpected noise which owners cannot plan for which we want to stop.”Current laws on fireworks allow them to be set off any day of the year between the hours of 7am and 11pm.
Dogs can be left terrified by the loud bangs and flashes of fireworks (Image: GETTY)
The Dogs Trust, which has launched a new dog safety campaign (see below), emphasises how 74 per cent of people believe fireworks should be restricted to certain times of the year and more than half want them limited to public displays to lessen potential distress to animals.
Dogs Trust director of canine behaviour and research Dr Rachel Casey said: “Many of us enjoy the experience of fireworks, especially when it comes to traditional Guy Fawkes Night celebrations on November 5, but for our dogs it’s often a terrifying and confusing experience. “Dogs have approximately four times more sensitive hearing than humans, and can hear much higher frequency sounds than we can, so just imagine how loud the whizz, pop and bang of fireworks can be for a dog.“Fireworks tend to be sudden, unpredictable and bright. This combination of effects can often have a profoundly negative and in many cases, lasting impact on dogs. We would urge anyone thinking of putting on a fireworks display to consider their four-legged friends and follow our Firework Dog Code to help all dogs have a safe and happy November 5.”See: dogstrust.org.uk/help-advice/advice-for-owners/fireworks-lp