By Thomas Mead
After a week of Guy Fawkes celebrations, Wellington proved the safest city for household pets, according to the SPCA.
Animal injuries and deaths as a result of fireworks are down overall this year, however there are still many concerning reports.
SPCA spokespeople in Auckland and Otago say the week was relatively quiet in comparison with other years, while James Crew of SPCA Wellington says he was delighted with the result.
“We don’t want people to stop celebrating Guy Fawkes altogether,” he says, “but we do want people to use common sense. If you want to have your fun, that’s great, but be responsible.”
Meanwhile, in Canterbury a lot of dogs were reported missing in the week leading up to November 5. Chief executive Barry Helem says one dog ran into a gully, where an SPCA ambulance was required for a rescue. Another, frightened by the noise of fireworks, ran underneath a truck.
An informal audit of veterinary clinics throughout the country, conducted by The New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA), revealed more sobering stories of animal injury as a result of the noise of fireworks.
President of the NZVA Companion Animal Society Dr Cath Watson detailed some of the worst reports today, including treatment for an injured dog with several fractures to its leg and another that was “too badly injured to be saved”.
In Upper Hutt, a dog jumped through a glass conservatory window in fright and required stitches.
Most animal injuries were the result of loud noises and bright flashes from the fireworks, as their senses are much more sensitive than humans.
“We are supposed to wear hearing protection when exposed to anything above 85 decibels,” says SPCA chief executive Christine Kalin.
“Fireworks typically produce about 140 decibels – enough to immediately damage human hearing.
“A dog’s hearing is twice as sensitive as a human’s and a cat’s is three times as sensitive, so the bangs from fireworks can be extremely distressing for them.”
The NZVA recommends animal owners microchip their pets, so they can be easily identified in times of trauma.