A 20-minute fireworks display organized near Manchester City Airport, UK, on Saturday 30th October 2021, ended up terrorizing many dogs at a nearby dog shelter. Emma Billington, the founder of Dogs4Rescue based in Worsley, Salford, said that one of her animals suffered a fit due to the noise and others panicked, vomited or were left “cowering in corners”. Several years ago one of the shelter’s dogs died from a heart attack following a firework display.

The kennel-free Dogs4Rescue shelter, which currently is home to 40 dogs, was founded by Ms. Billington in 2013 to rehabilitate dogs across Europe and the UK to homes in the Manchester area. They keep vulnerable rescued dogs, some paralyzed, some with epilepsy, and others are blind. “We take the most abused and difficult dogs and try so hard to make them feel safe and loved”, said Ms. Billington to Manchester Evening News.  “This is meant to be a safe place for them. It’s heartbreaking because this had set them all back”, she added.

A spokesperson of the event’s organizers, Illuminated, said “Illuminated regret any distress caused by the firework display at City Airport. This community event has been running since 2014, in 2016 we were made aware of the presence of Dogs4Rescue and following a meeting with them made significant changes to the display to minimize the noise footprint of the show including moving the location of the fireworks and using reduced noise effects.”

It is now obvious that such measures were insufficient. Fireworks are very distressing events for most dogs. A few days ago Guide Dogs Cymru revealed that a dog they were training was left frightened when fireworks were set off in front of him on a street in the Llanrumney area of Cardiff. In another incident, a terrified dog at an animal shelter lost her teeth chewing through her kennel during a fireworks display in Loftus, North Yorkshire. For many years animal lovers have been campaigning to ban loud fireworks because of their traumatic effects on animals, many of whom have much more sensitive hearings than humans. There is currently a petition circulating for such a ban.

Jordi Casamitjana
“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.