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Pets: Fireworks

Volume 465: debated on Wednesday 24 October 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether he plans to take steps to warn the public about the dangers of leaving pets outdoors around 5 November. (159249)

We understand that people are concerned about the distress that animals might experience because of fireworks. The Animal Welfare Act 2006 makes it an offence to infuriate or terrify any animal. Any person or organisation may initiate proceedings under this Act. The courts alone must decide whether an offence has been committed.

The use of fireworks is governed by the Fireworks Act 2003. Regulations were introduced in 2004 under this Act to prohibit the use of fireworks after 11 pm (12 pm on 5 November). They also ban the supply of excessively loud fireworks. These measures were brought in partly to protect animals.

Our general advice, which will be published on the DEFRA website, is to:

i. keep all pets inside the house once the sun starts to set, some people set off fireworks before nightfall;

ii. cover aviaries and rabbit hutches so that should the very loud noises disturb the animals, they do at least have a natural-like habitat, where they are able to hide;

iii. feed and exercise your animals well during the day, this will lead to a calmer animal once the noise starts;

iv. if your dog runs for its bed, a cupboard or under the bed, leave it there and allow it to follow its natural instinct which is to hide in a den or cave;

v. do not try to acclimatise your dog to the noise by insisting it faces the noise, they may never get used to the noise and you may be causing damage;

vi. allow the dog comforts within the den, give it its blanket, some water and a toy to make it feel comfortable;

vii. your dog may jump into the bath or start to dig, which shows its instinct to run into holes when danger is present; and

viii. if your dog shows any tendency to hide, let it do so.