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N.S. group warns about the impact of fireworks on pets ahead of New Year’s Eve

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Activist group warns public about firework impact on pets ahead of New Year’s events
An activist group of more than 3,600 people is warning about the harm caused by fireworks ahead of Sunday's New Year's celebrations. The group, Fireworks Hurt, has launched a petition to end the sale of consumer fireworks in Nova Scotia. As Ella Macdonald reports, they are advising pet owners to prepare for tomorrow's celebrations. – Dec 30, 2023

With tonight’s New Year’s Eve celebrations approaching — and some already in full swing — a Nova Scotia activist group is warning about the harm caused by consumer fireworks, specifically to pets.

Fireworks Hurt, a group of 3,600 concerned citizens, wants pet-owners to know how to prepare for fireworks in a way that prioritizes safety and comfort for both pets and pet owners.

Chirs Chisholm, a former vet and media contact for Fireworks Hurt, wants to remind dog, cat and livestock-owners that their animals can go into ‘fight or flight mode’ when spooked by sudden loud noises, such as fireworks.

“They don’t understand what’s going on,” Chisholm says. “To them, it’s just like the world has become a horrible place to be, and they can’t get away from it.”

Chisholm is fortunate to live in an out-of-town area, for the sake of his dog Suzy, a rescue from Maine.

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Suzy scares easily at the sound of thunder, which makes Chisholm think she wouldn’t do well around fireworks.

Hugh Chisholm with his dog Suzy. Ella Macdonald

Another dog, who, like Suzy, is no fan of loud noises is Angela Sande’s corgi, Raisin.

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“We actually already have a little jacket called a thunder coat, and whenever there’s a thunderstorm, we put it on her, and the same with fireworks,” Sande says. “It just kind of squeezes her tight. You pull it tight and it’s got some velcro and it really seems to calm her down.”

Sande adds that today, it’s important that pet-owners keep their dogs secure inside so that they can’t easily run away if they get triggered by the sound of fireworks.

According to Chisholm, it’s not only pets that we need to be thinking about when we set off fireworks without warning.

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“There are people that come from countries where they’ve been through wars, or there are people from the military or the police that have PTSD issues, people with neuro-degenerative conditions, or neurodivergent conditions, like autism, for example, where the bright lights or the sound can trigger very stressful situations.”

Chisholm says Fireworks Hurt is not opposed to planned events, such as tonight’s festivities at the Emera Oval in Halifax, because they are expected and last a set amount of time. He says the group’s main concern is with consumer fireworks.

Fireworks Hurt has an ongoing petition to ban the use and sale of consumer fireworks in Nova Scotia that has just surpassed 17,000 signatures.

For today, Chisholm advises to not leave your pet home alone and keep them on a leash when out and about.

He also recommends bringing outdoor pets inside, closing the blinds and turning on music to drown out the noise if your pet has a history of being scared by loud noises.

Michael Chaulk and Anna Yerhiieva say they plan to celebrate New Year’s, but not without their dog, Beast.

“He’s going to be with us,” Yerhiieva says. “That’s another thing… be with your dog in this case, because they feel safe with owners.”

Chisholm says pet owners can learn more about how to prepare for tonight’s festivities on Fireworks Hurt’s website.

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