You could risk a fine for setting off fireworks which cause dogs to suffer

Many owners have reported their animals ‘trembling’ and ‘shaking’ for days after firework displays have finished (Pictures: Images)

As the temperatures get colder and the days get shorter, people turn to Halloween, Bonfire Night, Christmas and New Year’s Eve to get them through.

Although these holidays might make winter more bearable, celebrating with fireworks in a way that harms an animal could leave you facing a hefty fine or even jail time.

Ahead of Guy Fawkes Night, on Friday, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) has warned animal owners to prepare to comfort their pets and block out the noise.

But even those who are not pet owners should be careful as it is illegal to cause ‘unnecessary suffering to an animal’

Doing this falls under animal cruelty, according to the Animal Welfare Act of 2006, and allows courts to impose an unlimited fine and/or hand down a five-year jail sentence.

You do not have to be the animal’s owner to cause it unnecessary suffering but you will only be found guilty if you ‘knew’ or ‘ought to have known’ your actions, or lack of, would cause an animal to suffer.

The legislation does not define what suffering is but the RSPCA has reported animals ‘trembling’ in fear and ‘shaking, panting and drooling’.

Some owners say their dogs stay ‘nervous wrecks’ for days which they find ‘heartbreaking to see’.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) confirmed to that the misuse of fireworks is seen as causing unnecessary suffering to an animal.

A spokesperson said: ‘Users of fireworks need to use them responsibly and be aware of animals close by, and those found guilty of causing animals unnecessary suffering can face up to five years’ imprisonment.’

Dog-owners have been advised to set up ‘safe havens’ in their homes before fireworks start (Picture: Getty Images)
People can also go to planned events, so there are less firework displays in residential areas (Picture: Getty Images)

It is illegal to set fireworks off between 11pm and 7am on regular days and this is extended to midnight on Bonfire Night and 1am on New Year’s Eve, Diwali and Chinese New Year.

Scotland has recently enforced similar rules with the Fireworks (Scotland) Miscellaneous Amendments Regulations 2021, which came into effect in June.

This year’s Bonfire Night will be the first one where Scots have to use designated time periods for firework celebrations.

People who use fireworks illegally can be fined £90 or face six months in prison.

Many campaigners and pet owners argue the rules are not strict enough – as allowing people to use fireworks any day of the year makes it difficult for owners to plan when to take their pets away or make sure they are home to comfort them.

The RSPCA asks people who want to enjoy fireworks without harming animals to go to organised firework events, so there are less smaller displays around residential streets.

Telling pet owners about your firework plans in advance also helps as this gives them time to plan how and when to comfort their animals.

Of course, using low-noise fireworks can also help reduce the number of animals who get spooked.

The RSPCA said: ‘In the last five years, we’ve received 1,621 calls about fireworks and their effects on animals.

‘We see heartbreaking videos and images of animals struggling to cope during fireworks and the stress it causes them.

‘There is information on the RSPCA website on how to prepare your pets in advance such as bringing pets inside and providing extra bedding to make a safe haven.

‘We would also advise you to consult your vet if you feel your pet is particularly anxious.’

How to help your dog during firework displays:

Source: RSPCA

  • Walk your dog during daylight hours to avoid times when fireworks are likely to be set off.
  • Move your dog to the safe haven each evening before the fireworks begin, and provide toys and other things that they enjoy. Make sure there are things for you to do too, so your dog isn’t left alone.
  • Close windows and curtains to muffle the sound of fireworks and blackout your doggy safe haven so they can’t see any flashes outside.
  • Put on some music or TV to mask the firework sounds.
  • Ignore the firework noises yourself. Play with a toy to see if your dog wants to join in, but don’t force them to play.

The same page has advice on how to help other types of pets, including cats, horses and small animals.

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