My heart sinks every year on July 4th. Living in Los Angeles, fireworks go on for hours. It’s not just the official fireworks shows either. People all over the city shoot them off. Last night, we had embers raining down on our roof from someone shooting fireworks from the street right in front our apartment.
I don’t mean to be a killjoy, but if you live with animals you know that fireworks fucking suck. A recent article in USA Today quoted veterinarian Marty Becker who works on alleviating anxiety in companion animals. He says that when they hear fireworks dogs think “they’re going to die.” He’s seen dogs self-mutilate and run through plate-glass windows in states of utter panic. Fireworks can also induce other health issues in dogs including heart problems, nausea, and tremors.
In cities around the nation, hundreds of volunteers spent their July 4th at animal shelters keeping dogs and cats company and doing their best to reassure them.
It’s no coincidence that more dogs are reported to run away on Independence Day than any other day of the year. I’ve had two friends lose their dogs in recent years on July 4th. One didn’t find her dog for over a month – sadly, many people never find their dogs at all.
But it’s not just companion animals that are negatively affected by fireworks, it endangers wildlife as well. There have been accounts of panicked deer running into roads and birds flying into buildings. Many animals have a keener sense of hearing than humans. Fireworks create loud explosions that can reach up to 190 decibels. For reference, humans can suffer hearing loss at just 75 decibels. Wildlife has no warning or way to know where or why these sounds are occurring – of course they’re scared.
If concern for companion animals and wildlife doesn’t move you, how about our veterans battling PTSD? Yes, there are countless vets who suffer negatively from fireworks. At least humans know Independence Day is approaching and can try and prepare, animals don’t have that luxury.
There are endless tips on how to cope with fireworks, but there’s actually one solution that just makes sense: Make fireworks silent.
In 2015, the town of Collecchio, Italy passed a law mandating that fireworks must be silent out of respect for animals and to reduce their stress. And in the UK, venues close to residential neighborhoods, wildlife, or farms are only permitted to use silent fireworks. Why can’t we do the same?
Silent fireworks are not a new thing, they’ve been around for years. They’re actually already used as part of traditional fireworks shows. Is it not worth safeguarding our companion animals, wildlife, and people suffering with PTSD by exclusively using them? A few minutes of fun for us could mean days of suffering for someone else. It’s not fair. Silent fireworks would be an easy switch and it’s just the right thing to do.