What now?

So, after another dreadful firework ‘night’ running into another dreadful firework ‘season’. What are we going to do to save some of our pets who don’t have a voice, and those of our family and friends, some of whom are suffering unimaginable distress and anxiety?

I have been sent hundreds of photographs and videos of animals in great distress. Something the Animal Welfare Act is supposed to protect them against. The AWA2006 is not fit for purpose. There is no way for pet owners to use this act. The police (virtually 100%) refuse to get involved. Who else is there to uphold the law, if not them? When writing to MPs the majority send back a copy of the law as it stands … well it doesn’t really STAND does it? It mostly falls over!

I don’t believe I have to list the many conditions, we humans suffer, that are exacerbated by random bangs and flashes which occur during firework ‘season’. And it is a ‘season’, even spoken of in parliament as ‘firework season’. It used to be traditional bonfire night…. no longer can we prepare ourselves or our pets for Guy Fawkes, the one night of fireworks.

The one human condition I will refer to is PTSD.  Whether this is Complex combat PTSD / Combat PTSD, or one of the many other PTSD diagnosis caused by reasons too many to mention. It needs to be said: People who suffer from PTSD have quite enough on their plate without being scared to go out during autumn/winter evenings and increasingly during daylight hours through the winter OR scared to sit in – just waiting …. Or having to medicate ………….Or deciding that there is only one way to escape.

Aside from distress caused to humans and animals, it seems little thought has been given to the abuse against our emergency services who during the ‘season’ are regularly hoax called, only to be ambushed by youths and pelted with fireworks, bricks and bottles. The emergency services are there to protect and save us and this is their reward. Police attend with ambulance crews regularly during this time, as even those that are doing their jobs saving lives are not immune to what appears to be a new sport of firework darts, with the emergency services standing in for the dart board.  Every day during the busy season there are stories that defy logic, fireworks used as weapons as gangs of teenagers fire them at each other in running street battles, fireworks let off into shops, buses, busy streets with no mind to who is walking.  This year yet again we hear of the most heinous crime, fireworks shot at a blind person and their dog, even worse this is not the first time this happened.

I hardly dare mention (in case any terrorist is reading this and doesn’t know) fireworks contain gunpowder. Now I know that the amount of actual gun powder in a firework is minimal and probably several let off together would not blow up a bus. Can you imagine though, how easily fireworks could cause a distraction and chaos if just a few were let off, on say, a London underground platform?   Yes but, I hear you say, if we banned sales they would import from abroad. Of course, illegal imports are ongoing, they are however, subject to another law and other policing. If we banned sales, ALL fireworks would be illegal – easy to check if a legal display is in the area.  Much easier to police You can’t have a secret firework party.

There are possibly 20 Petitions online as is usual this time of year. People are at the end of their tether, they are trying to find a voice. FAB will be their voice.

  • Maybe having seen again the reaction of their ex-marine husband…. (Sorry you will have to imagine what PTSD does to some of our armed forces personnel, I can’t write it here, it seems wrong somehow and is not for me to say really. I have heard first hand from wives and mothers and it makes me cry when I think of it.) Suffice to say, you would not want to be in that position.
  • Maybe they have just had their horse put to sleep because it ran through a barbed wire fence onto the road…. Oh, and injured a car driver in the process. #nothorsesfault.       NOTE … please report ALL incidents, road traffic, fireworks, etc to BHS on their incident line. These stats go to the government so definitely worth completing the short easy form.
  • Maybe they have just found their dog, after searching in vain for days, only to find it dead in a ditch. I hear many of these incidents virtually every month through autumn and winter.
  • I haven’t touched on the cost to pet owners over the season in sedatives, thunder jackets, chewed door frames, broken fences and stable doors, herbal remedies and all manner of other things we have all tried in a vain attempt to help our pets.

 

FAB will be your voice.

A little about the campaign I started. FAB (Firework Abatement Campaign) has been campaigning for over 4 years now. We have been behind 3 successful government petitions (over 100,000 each) achieving 2 government debates.  We are now using Change.org as a platform to launch the 2018 campaign.  We are using Change because we didn’t believe we would get another debate so close to the January 2018 debate. The debates did what we intended they raised the profile of the subject, they got the Government thinking, MPs talking. We also wanted to be able to update and inform our signatories and that is not possible on the government petition site.  The last time I looked we had nearly 300,000 …yes you read that right 300 thousand.  We believe this shows the strength of feeling around the random and overuse of fireworks.  I personally, would like to get 500,000, at least, by Christmas. Hoping then to push that even further over New Year.

I really do understand why people want to start their own petitions; after all I did! I would just like to say however; this 2018 petition is all encompassing. We have tried for a ban, tried for restricted dates, and although they achieved a debate the MPs at that debate could not agree what end game they wanted AND IF THE MPs CAN’T AGREE, what hope for us?  SO, this year we decided to try and force (encourage) the government to do their own research. We have asked for a review of the law. IF this is successful in persuading the MPs to get their act together and wake up and smell the coffee, regarding the distress and anxiety caused by fireworks, then it will be a job well done.

 

To help this campaign there are several things you can do ……. none of which cost you any money and very little time, especially when measured against the amount of time my two-woman team and myself have put into this on your behalf. (Not being funny but my OH goes without his dinner and ironed shirts and most other domestic duties often during firework season, he only sees the top of my head over this laptop while eating a sandwich, he has made!  Oh no don’t laugh. lol)

 

List of what you can do to help.

  1. Firstly join, like, follow the FAB website, groups and pages.

You will get a lot of ‘pinging’ from any FB post you have ‘liked’ ‘commented on’ ‘shared’ or ‘posted’. You can ‘stop notifications’ on each post if you want to. Look for 3 dots next to post title/name.

  1. Sign our petition.
  2. Write to your MP, it doesn’t have to be a long email or anything fancy. Just tell them how fireworks affect you or yours.
  3. LOG all fireworks you hear, (doesn’t have to be at the time) again for stats.
  4. Ring police on 101 and report fireworks after curfew – 11pm except 5th, New Year, Diwali, Chinese New Year. NB Get an incident number or your report will go in the bin. We need the numbers for stats again to go to Government. They only listen to numbers.
  5. Whenever you see a post about fireworks comment with the petition. You can add a sentence to say, “sign for a review of the law…everything else has been debated and rejected.”
  6. If there is a post where animals are injured, we are collecting for stats on the fab anti random firework page. Please ask owner to post on page.

So, the bottom line is, the Animal Welfare Act 2006 has no teeth and the Firework Act 2003 with the Firework Regulations 2004 are also useless protection against fireworks. None of them are fit for purpose.

Therefore, the law must be changed, it can be reviewed by the Office of Product Safety and Standards. This office has the power to recommend to ministers. If you would like to email OPSS yourself here is their email.

We are also supporting the Government petition asking for a ban on public sales.

 

LINKS

https://www.change.org/p/office-for-product-safety-and-standards-review-firework-rules-to-protect-animals-from-injury-and-distress – 333,669 at last count

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/231147  —  240,128 signatures at last count.

 

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