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SPCA calls for vigilance on Guy Fawkes

Thursday, 3 November, 2011

With Guy Fawkes just around the corner, SPCA New Zealand is calling for revellers to be mindful of animals when taking part in the celebrations.

Many animals find the noise and bright lights produced by fireworks frightening and distressing. When alarmed by fireworks, the instinctive reaction for many is to flee. Unfortunately, horses have been known to become so terrified that they injure themselves badly on paddock fencing trying to escape, and dogs and cats have been known to run away from home. This can cause much distress to owners, particularly if their pets had not been wearing appropriate identification.

"I can’t stress enough the need to have companion animals identified,” says Bob Kerridge, SPCA National President.

"Often in running away, vulnerable animals run so far they go missing and become susceptible to traffic accidents. Without identification it may be difficult to identify who the owners are.

"There are a couple of solutions in assisting with repatriation. As a long term solution, there is microchipping, which has proven particularly helpful in states of emergency when owners lose their animal, such as after a natural disaster like the Christchurch earthquakes. Another alternative is a collar and disc with the name of the animal and owner’s contact details," he adds.

This year, Guy Fawkes coincides with the first day of the SPCA’s Annual Paws Appeal Week. To help the organisation carry out its crucial work in your community, the SPCA encourages you to please give generously to collectors in your area. Those wishing to donate can also do so by texting the word 'SPCA' to 3181 to make an automatic $3 donation.

The SPCA has a few tips to ensure a safe Guy Fawkes for the animals around you:

  • All pets should wear identification so that if they do run away, you can easily be reunited. A collar with tags is a good first step, but also consider microchipping your pets. For both methods of identification, ensure your contact details are up to date.
  • Smaller, caged animals such as rabbits and guinea pigs should be safely secured in a garage or outbuilding, away from the sight and sound of the fireworks. If you do not have a suitable building, try putting the cage in your laundry or covering it with thick fabric to muffle the sound. Please ensure there is sufficient ventilation.
  • Cats and dogs should be taken indoors, even if they are usually ‘outside’ pets. Close the blinds, secure any potential exits, and play music or the television quietly in the background. Provide plenty of food and water, and some toys for distraction. Do not soothe or comfort a scared dog, as this will only increase his fear. Instead, be cheerful and in control, and encourage calm behaviour with praise and attention.
  • Ensure your dog has had plenty of active exercise before the fireworks start, and before his evening meal. A tired, well-fed dog will be far less anxious during the night.
  • Horses are particularly vulnerable to bolting when exposed to fireworks. If at all possible, ensure your horse is securely stabled, or moved to a different location away from fireworks displays. Remove any sharp objects that might injure a panicked horse, cover stable windows to hide the sight of the fireworks and dim the noise, and make sure you supply plenty of food and water.