Fireworks Open Letter – a national charity collaboration

Fireworks Open Letter - a national charity collaboration

PTSD UK is proud to be part of a coalition of national charities, lead by Dogs Trust, who have issued an open letter to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy urging for the government to undertake a review of fireworks legislation, due to the serious  welfare concerns for both animals and people caused by the unpredictability and loud noises of fireworks.  

Dogs Trust, the largest canine welfare charity leads the coalition of ten other welfare organisations who have signed the letter, which highlights the easy access to purchase pyrotechnics and the detrimental effect it can have on both animals and people.

Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, Blue Cross, British Veterinary Association, Cats Protection, Children’s Burns Trust, Combat Stress, Dan’s Fund for Burns, Help for Heroes, The Kennel Club and PTSD UK have joined forces with Dogs Trust, calling for attention and change from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. The letter said: “We urge your department to look at reviewing where and when fireworks can be used. Currently, too many animals and people are suffering the consequences of insufficient existing legislation. We strongly believe that this must change.”

The letter also covers the lack of legislative commitment from the Government to review fireworks, stating: “Although there have been several Government awareness campaigns around fireworks, there has been no legislative commitment to a review of fireworks and their impact on people and animal welfare.”

The organisations are asking the UK Government to follow Scottish Government which has taken positive steps towards controlling the purchasing and use of fireworks. The letter said: “You will be aware that, in June of this year, the Scottish Parliament passed the Fireworks and Pyrotechnics Articles (Scotland) Bill. Once the relevant provisions come into force, the Bill will introduce fireworks licensing in Scotland and specifies that fireworks can only be supplied to, and used by, members of the public on certain dates (around celebration periods). It also grants local authorities the powers to set-up ‘firework control zones’. The Welsh Government has also indicated it is supportive of UK-wide restrictions on fireworks to avoid border crossing purchasing to circumvent devolved legislation”.

Paula Boyden, Veterinary Director at Dogs Trust said: “Fireworks have been the cause of distress and fear to many dogs and other animals for a long time and the impact they have is increasingly concerning. We hope that our collaborative efforts to raise awareness of the wider impacts of fireworks on people and animals and call for action will be recognised and listened to by the Secretary of State.

“Following the recent news that council run firework displays have been cancelled in some parts of the UK, there may be a potential rise in people hosting private firework displays at home, the Government must act now and follow suit with Scotland in making changes to how they are bought and used in the future.”

Jacqui Suttie, Founder and CEO of PTSD UK says, “When you have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD or C-PTSD), any loud or sudden noise can be a trigger, leading to flashbacks, uncontrollable shaking, panic attacks, heart palpations and many other physical and emotional symptoms. That linked with the other symptoms of PTSD and C-PTSD such as exaggerated startle response, fear of sound (phonophobia), aversion to specific sounds (misophonia), and a difficulty in tolerance and volume of sounds that would not be considered loud by normal hearing individuals (hyperacusis) means firework ‘season’ in October and November or around festivals such as Diwali, New Year and Chinese New Year can be a hugely traumatic time for people with PTSD and C-PTSD.

At PTSD UK, we want everyone to be able to enjoy the season and make positive memories – but this can only be achieved if everyone is respectful and sensible – and a review of legislation will help support this.”

The full open letter reads:

Dear Secretary of State,

Congratulations on your appointment as Secretary of State at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. We are writing on behalf of a number of organisations that work to improve the welfare of both people and animals, to urge your department to undertake a review of fireworks legislation.

Current easy access to fireworks is a serious concern for animals that suffer from noise fear, as well as vulnerable people such as those that suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, veterans, or children, young people and adults who are at high risk of being burned at private or public displays. In the lead-up to fireworks season and the heightened use of fireworks that occurs as part of this, we are increasingly concerned about the impact of fireworks on these groups.

Although there have been several Government awareness campaigns around fireworks, there has been no legislative commitment to a review of fireworks and their impact on people and animal welfare.

You will be aware that, in June of this year, the Scottish Parliament passed the Fireworks and Pyrotechnics Articles (Scotland) Bill. Once the relevant provisions come into force, the Bill will introduce fireworks licensing in Scotland and specifies that fireworks can only be supplied to, and used by, members of the public only on certain dates (around celebration periods). It also grants local authorities the powers to set-up ‘firework control zones’. The Welsh Government has also indicated it is supportive of UK-wide restrictions on fireworks to avoid border crossing purchasing to circumvent devolved legislation.

We urge your department to follow suit and to look at reviewing where and when fireworks can be used elsewhere in the UK. Currently, too many animals and people are suffering the consequences of insufficient existing legislation. We strongly believe that this must change.

We would welcome an opportunity to meet with you to discuss our concerns in more detail.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,

Claire Calder, Head of Public Affairs, Dogs Trust

On behalf of:

Michael Webb, Head of Policy and Public Affairs, Battersea Dogs and Cats Home

Becky Thwaites, Head of Public Affairs and Social Impact, Blue Cross

Malcolm Morley, President, British Veterinary Association

Madison Rogers, Head of Advocacy, Campaigns & Government Relations, Cats Protection

Jo Myers, Operations & Relationship Manager, Children’s Burns Trust

Jeff Harrison, Chief Executive Officer, Combat Stress

Polly Brooks, MBE, CEO & Founder, Dan’s Fund for Burns

Beth Miles, Director, Help for Heroes

Dr Ed Hayes, Head of Public Affairs, The Kennel Club

Jacqui Suttie, CEO and Founder, PTSD UK

For detailed advice on preparing your dog for fireworks season visit Dogs Trust

If you have PTSD or C-PTSD, and need some support or tips on some things you can do to manage when you have PTSD or C-PTSD or to support a loved one through the peaks in the use of fireworks, please visit our fireworks page here.

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