Fireworks may be beautiful to us,
but they traumatize animals.
No cruelty is justifiable.
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A Project of the Ohio Animal Defense League
A campaign to
stop fireworks from traumatizing animals
Articles - Fact Sheets
The Ohio Animal
Defense League is campaigning to stop the city of Eastlake, Ohio from
using loud, percussive-type fireworks at the new baseball stadium it is
building in a densely-populated residential neighborhood. The stadium
will be home to a class-A minor league baseball team of the major league
Cleveland Indians. As factual information about the interaction between
animals and fireworks is very hard
locate, it is clear from our research that using fireworks near animals is
both cruel and inhumane.
Firework displays and celebrations bring confusion, anxiety and fear into
the lives of animals, causing many to run away from their homes in an
effort to escape the frightening detonations.
Fireworks are not animal-friendly. Invariably, when communities celebrate
with fireworks, local shelters and other animal aid organizations are
overwhelmed by the "fallout," which manifests in an increased number of
stray animals and reports of injuries and trauma to animals. Those
animals who are reunited with their families must consider themselves
fortunate. Many injured or terrorized animals run away from their homes
to escape the traumatizing detonations of fireworks. Some are hit by cars
and injured or killed, some are maimed for life, while others are never
Firework explosions can produce a blind panic in animals that can lead to
serious injury, deep-rooted, debilitating fears, or even death. This is,
in part, because the events do not last long enough for animals to become
accustomed to the explosions. Moreover, the ears of most animals are
considerably more sensitive than the human ear. Therefore, the explosion
of a firework (which can emit sounds of up to 190 decibels, a full 110 to
115 decibels higher than the 75- to 80-decibel range, where damage to the
human ear begins) not only is proportionately more disturbing to an
animal, it can also affect an animal's acute sense of hearing. And
animals who are too close to firework explosions often suffer significant
burns and eye damage. Fireworks generate a noise level higher than the
noise from gunshots (140 decibels) and low-level flying jets (100
decibels). Irreversible ear damage, such as tinnitus and loss of hearing
in humans starts at the 80-decibel range.
Startling, extremely loud sounds must have a detrimental effect on
wildlife as well. In 1996, research demonstrated that hatchling and
juvenile black ducks at a site of overflights in Piney Island, N.C., grew
slower and had less body weight than black ducks living in low-noise
areas. A study to examine the impact of sound from loud gunshots on snow
geese found that the birds reduced their feeding time. The energy loss
created could be only partially compensated for by feeding at night,
resulting in less time resting and sleeping. Over time, these sorts of
behaviors no doubt reduce survival rates.
Dr. David Noakes, a zoologist at the University of Guelph, Ontario, points
out that the combined responses to fireworks of panic and disorientation
can result in birds' flying into a building or too far out to sea.
Researchers at Acadia University, Nova Scotia, found that colonial species
of birds who nest in high densities, such as the herring gull, are most at
risk during a round of firecracker explosions. After a loud bang, most
birds fly away in fright, and the nesting mothers of the flock sometimes
cannot find their own nest upon return, endangering the well-being of
Fireworks produce light, noise and air pollution. The explosion of
fireworks also releases poisonous chemicals and particle-laden smoke,
contaminating our natural environment. As a consequence, fireworks pose a
hazard to wildlife living in or near areas where firework displays occur,
as well as wildlife downwind. And these chemicals are also hazardous to
companion animals living in the area where they are detonated. And we can
not forget humans with asthma and other health problems.
Fireworks can affect farm animals, too. Dr. Ian Duncan, a University of
Guelph ethologist, has demonstrated that laying hens show extremely low
egg production the day after fireworks and the eggs are often malformed as
Dogs, cats, and other companion animals don't understand that the
terrifying loud bangs are a celebration. One can only imagine what they
think, given how much more sensitive their hearing is than ours. Humane
societies across North America report that after firework displays they
are swamped with calls about lost dogs and cats. Dogs are brought to
shelters with paws bloody from running or torn skin from tearing through a
backyard wooden fence or, worse, crippled from being hit by a car.
The need to protect both companion animals and nondomesticated animals
from fireworks harm is exemplified in the numerous stories of animal
suffering that we are left with after the smoke has cleared. For example,
dogs have responded to firework explosions by breaking through windows and
screens, often running miles away from their homes, only to end up
exhausted, bloody and confused or dead on the road. A bull trying to
escape his pen in response to a fireworks display died after becoming
impaled. The city of Carrollton, Texas, decided to cancel its 1999 July
fireworks celebration after a fireworks test indicated that the lights and
sounds disturbed egrets at a nearby rookery. And guide dogs are sometimes
left so terrorized by the explosions that they suffer severe emotional
distress and are unable to assist their companions. Consequently, it is
not surprising that firework events generate an increase in the number of
stray animals, as well as an increase in reports of injuries and trauma to
For animals, fireworks are no cause for celebration. However, fireworks
remain a holiday fixture in most communities around the world, despite the
increased acceptance of alternatives such as laser light shows and
Fireworks can create joy and excitement, but restrictions must be put into
place. These safety tips should be followed to protect animals from
* Consideration must be given to alternatives to massive firework
displays, such as laser light shows.
* The use of the loudest pyrotechnics should be banned completely.
* Displays must use only nontoxic, nonpercussive fireworks.
* Displays of percussive fireworks should never be allowed in residential
* Displays should never be allowed where wildlife gathers or nest,
especially threatened or endangered species.
* Displays should be limited to specific areas, and should be kept short.
* All area humane societies, animal care and control agencies and animal
rescue groups should be alerted at least three months in advance of
firework displays. This will give them ample time to include a notice in
their newsletters and alert local residents of the impending fireworks.
* Advance warning notices should be posted so that people with dogs and
cats can keep animals indoors and play music to shut out as much noise as
possible. Sufficient public notice of firework displays must be provided
to allow animal caretakers ample time to take safety precautions.
Firework safety materials that include how to protect animals from harm
must be distributed in schools and released through all local media
outlets prior to times of firework use. All local media outlets include:
local television and radio stations; local daily, weekly and monthly
newspapers; community newspapers and newsletters; local public access
cable television stations; community billboards; school and city or county
billboards; printed calendars of community events.
The Ohio Animal Defense League, after studying this issue, has concluded
that fireworks and animals do not make a humane match. Our conclusion is
emphatic - In this age of technology, surely we can create celebratory
displays that are thrilling and joyful without endangering our ears, our
dogs and cats, and our wild neighbors. There is an evident need to
protect both companion animals and wild animals from fireworks harm, and
this need is growing with each passing year. We are pushing ahead with
our campaign to address the negative effects that fireworks have on
animals, and we need your assistance. We are collecting personal stories,
as well as research studies, that demonstrate how animals react to and/or
have suffered from the detonation of fireworks. If you have such a story
to share or know of research that is relevant to our campaign, contact us
so that we can incorporate it into our efforts. Thank you for your
A project of the Ohio Animal Defense League
Post Office Box 5832
Eastlake OH 44095-0832