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Nica Richards
Premium Journalist
3 minute read
5 Nov 2020
1:37 pm

Fireworks season is coming – what you can do to keep your pet safe

Nica Richards

The pandemic makes being a cautious pet owner this festive season even more important, as resources within the animal welfare society are already stretched.

Picture: iStock

The National Council of SPCAs (NSPCA) has urged pet owners to stay home on Thursday, as shelters across the country brace themselves for Guy Fawkes celebrations. 

This, they said, was essential in lessening the stress felt by pets when fireworks were set off nearby. 

It is also integral that all pets get microchipped, which is an affordable way of easily identifying one’s pet should it go missing. If possible, do this before December. 

A collar with a name tag that includes the owner’s information is also important. 

The Covid-19 pandemic saw shelters be overwhelmed by the amount of pets that had to be forfeited. From deaths to retrenchments, a number of factors meant people had to give up their animals, often because they could no longer afford to look after them. 

NSPCA’s spokesperson Keshvi Nair said the pandemic also severely impacted the donations they usually receive, which is what the NSPCA depends on to keep operational. 

“This is all the more reason that we implore the public to stay at home and curtail the use of fireworks around animals and in general, to prevent exacerbating the situation further,” Nair said. 

“The sooner we can curb the pandemic, the sooner we can regain support, which is imperative in continuing the work of animal welfare in this country.”

Here are some easy tips to help pet owners and their pets when fireworks are imminent: 

  • Stay at home with your pet. Stay indoors, with all doors, windows and curtains closed, to muffle out the bangs and block out bright flashes.
  • Turn on the TV or radio to block out loud bangs with familiar sounds. 
  • Keep your pet distracted with toys or some sort of enrichment.
  • Stick to walking your dogs earlier in the day rather than in the afternoon. This will also make them tired, and hopefully less stressed.
  • Keep your pets away from windows or glass doors, which they may jump through if they get scared
  • Make sure your pet is microchipped and, at the very least, has a collar with your number on it. If your pet runs away, this can make getting your fur baby back much easier.
  • Do not forget about the unconventional pets – rabbits, guinea pigs, chickens and horses, and everything in between get scared too. Smaller pets should be moved into a quiet, secure area, or brought indoors. And larger animals should be stabled early enough to be familiar with their surroundings, or moved to a place well in advance where fireworks are not often used.
  • If you own a particularly anxious pet, consult your veterinarian about medical treatment to keep them as relaxed as possible.

If your pet has gone missing, be sure to check your local SPCA, veterinarian and other animal shelters as soon as possible. 

“We ask further that the public take accountability for their pets and actions during this time and going into the festive season,” Nair said. 

Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) spokesperson Xolani Fihla said merrymakers were allowed to celebrate Guy Fawkes in Johannesburg, but should only set off fireworks between 7pm and 10pm.

“We are advising that people should ignite fireworks far away from where people are,” Fihla said.

“And please keep your pets indoors.”

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