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RSPCA releases heartbreaking images of terrified dog ahead of fireworks night

RSPCA issues advice and warnings to animal owners ahead of November 5.

With many public firework displays, including London, being cancelled and more people than ever attending displays at home or with friends, the RSPCA is concerned for the wellbeing of the nation's animals.

New polling by the charity shows that in 2021 52%* of the UK public will be attending unofficial displays, this compares with 41% in 2020 and 23% in 2019.

This news may concern animal owners who have nervous pets, like Harley(video), or who own horses or livestock who may get spooked by unexpected flashes and noises.

Over the last five years, the RSPCA has received 1,621 calls about fireworks - and it fears this year could be worse if many more people go ahead with displays in their gardens as expected.

Campaigns manager Carrie Stones said: “With unplanned or more spontaneous events in the pipeline this year owners with nervous animals may be worried about the coming weeks.

“There is information on the RSPCA website on how to prepare your pets in advance such as bringing pets inside and providing extra bedding to make a safe haven. We would also advise you to consult your vet if you feel your pet is particularly anxious.”

This year the RSPCA has launched a new online survey to map incidents to help us gain a better understanding of how we can help. For animal welfare concerns and advice people should still ring our cruelty line on 0300 1234 999.

The charity has also written to councils across the country to provide a toolkit to raise awareness of animal welfare during this time of year. It includes posters for people with anxious animals to put in their windows and colouring sheets for children.

Case studies

Nine-year-old rescue Staffie Harley spends hours hiding and trembling during fireworks season. His owner, Claire McParland, from Worthing in West Sussex, said: “My husband and I adopted Harley when he was just 15 months old. He’s always been a nervous little dog and is very noise sensitive but this worsened when my husband and then our other dog died.

“We’ve been working with my vet and behaviourists to help Harley but fireworks continue to reduce him to a nervous wreck. He shakes like a leaf. Last year was actually an improvement on how he’s reacted in previous years. It’s so upsetting to see him in such a state even for one evening. But this isn’t just for one night, it goes on for days as people around us set off fireworks at different times on different days.”


Michelle Sidney, from West Sussex, adopted Rose the Rottweiler from RSPCA Millbrook animal centre in December 2020. She had spent three weeks at RSPCA Finsbury Park hospital during which time she had been left terrified by the intentionally frightening loud firework noises across the local neighbourhood on November 5. Michelle plans to stay in with Rose and to use the TV as a noise distraction. Michelle said: “This will be her first firework season with me, so I'll obviously need to ensure I plan for the weeks either side too, she won't be left alone and I'll need to keep an ear out before she goes out for her night time wee!”


Jenny Eden, from Worthing, West Sussex adopted RSPCA rescue dog Stanley, 8, from the RSPCA when he was six months old. On November 5 Jenny and her husband Mike drive onto the South Downs with Stanley to help keep him away from the loud noises as he suffers extreme stress. Jenny said: “Stanley is super sensitive to noise, especially loud noises and fireworks. He tends to shake, pant and drool, and he can’t settle afterwards. It’s heartbreaking to see. It’s easiest to take him away from the situation and to try to get as far away from the noise as possible. What makes this more difficult is not knowing on which days fireworks are going to be let off.”

For more information about the RSPCA’s #BangOutOfOrder campaign and to support our calls for more controls over fireworks displays, as well as guidance on sending a letter to your council please visit our ~BangOutOfOrder webpage here. And to support the FAB Firework Abatement UK, please sign the petition online.

For more tips to help animals during fireworks season, please visit our website.


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