RSPCA Cymru has welcomed news that Councillors in Carmarthenshire have unanimously backed a motion which could help mitigate the risks fireworks pose to animals in the local area.
Cllr Louvain Roberts, who represents the Glanymor ward, put forward the RSPCA-backed motion. It was seconded by Trimsaran ward councillor Kim Broom.
Many pets and other animals experience fear and distress as a consequence of the loud bangs associated with fireworks. Across England and Wales, the animal welfare charity receives approximately 400 calls annually about animal welfare issues linked to the use of fireworks.
With public displays not taking place amid Covid-19 restrictions, RSPCA projections suggest a 12% increase in DIY displays at the home – something which heightened concerns around potential animal welfare issues.
The motion calls on the local authority to ensure all public fireworks displays are advertised in advance – something the RSPCA says gives pet owners “vital time to plan and prepare”.
Plans were also proposed for a local public awareness campaign, to encourage local suppliers to stock quieter fireworks, and for the Council to write to both the Welsh and UK Governments to utilise tools at their disposal to mitigate animal welfare risks.
Cllrs Roberts, Broom, Lloyd, Madge, Najmi, Speake, Evans, Currie and Hughes all spoke in the debate – and the motion was supported unanimously by local authority members. It will now go forward to the local authority’s Executive Board for further consideration.
The local authority is the tenth in Wales to pass the RSPCA motion and support action to make fireworks a less frightening and dangerous proposition for many animals and vulnerable people.
RSPCA Cymru is also hoping for action at a national level. Fireworks regulation is a non-devolved matter, but the Welsh Government has been urged to bring forward a campaign to improve people’s understanding of the impact fireworks can have on people, including those with sensory issues, our armed forces veterans, and on pets, livestock and wildlife.
The Welsh Government recently said it would be seeking a trilateral meeting with the UK Government and Scottish Government to determine what more can be done to tackle this issue at a Great Britain level.
Lewis Clark, RSPCA public affairs adviser, said: “We’re delighted that Carmarthenshire County Council has become the tenth local authority in Wales to vote in favour of action on this important motion.
“Almost half of Councils in Wales have now made this step and we’re already hearing of some hugely important work at a local government level to implement some of these new measures.
“Many people love fireworks – but we need to encourage responsible use, as they can be very frightening and dangerous for animals and vulnerable people too.
“Advertising displays in advance is so important – as it can give pet owners vital time to plan and prepare for the distressing experiences their pets may face. Equally, through promotional campaigns and by encouraging the sale of lower-noise fireworks, we can make displays safer for everybody.
“People across Wales have been backing the RSPCA’s #BangOutOfOrder campaign in great numbers – and the public’s enthusiasm is proving crucial in bringing this to the attention of local authorities, and ensuring local actions like those supported today in Carmarthenshire. Together, we can make fireworks less frightening for animals.”
Cllr Roberts, who put forward the motion, added: “I was motivated to put this motion forward as, over the Christmas period, I had a huge number of calls from constituents about the impact of local fireworks displays.
“Many dogs in the area were very distressed; while I also know of disabled people and veterans whose anxiety levels go through the roof due to the frequency of displays.
“People can easily get their hands on fireworks – online, or at outlets that seem to pop up all the time; and there definitely seems to be more displays happening in my area.
“Being in lockdown, people were stuck at home and often saw the impacts fireworks were having on their pets too.
“I’m really pleased the Council backed this motion unanimously. This isn’t a political issue at all – and I’m pleased there was support across the board for this to go forward to the Executive; and I also plan to make representations to the UK Government in the hope we can secure legislative change.”