The days before and after Diwali brings lots of pets to the vets. A 2001 survey of Veterinarians shows that dozens of animals were deliberately killed with fireworks, and others were victims of accidents that resulted in injuries.
What a beautiful festival it is meant to be: the gentleness of the lights in the house, the fruit and sweets, the dressing up of the women, the doors thrown open to welcome Lakshmi and festivities all around. But, all that is spoilt by the use of crackers for violence and mischief.
Since animals have a far more acute sense of hearing than ours, the noise of crackers has a terrifying effect on animals. Here, the various effects of crackers on pets & the steps needed are discussed.
Effects on pets-
Pets get nervous & stressed out-
As any animal owner will testify, fireworks terrify animals. Commonly seen signs of stress include: shaking, trembling, excessive drooling, barking, howling, trying to hide or get into / out of the house, fence, or other enclosure, refusing to eat food. Some animals may loose bladder or bowel control or experience temporary diarrhea from prolonged stress.
Torture hurts them/proves fatal
Pets are the easiest targets for school children & sadists. Crackers are tied to the tails. Some are burnt by burning crackers thrown at them.The little kittens and puppies are flung into burning fires.They are tied to strings of bombs and can no longer even function out of terror. Some get serious injuries & require prompt attention.
If you care about your pet then Diwali is the time to show your concern.
Some basic precautions for the pet owners
Do not try to make your dog used to the noise by insisting it faces the noise, they may never get used to the noise and you may be causing damage. Here’s what can be done-
Stay at home & take measures-
Try staying at home with your beloved pet during fireworks, bring the animal indoors. Close the curtains and try to make them feel safe and comfortable in a secure room of the house, and leave a radio or TV on and some of their favorite things, or some old clothes with the your scent on them.
If your dog runs for its bed, a cupboard or under the bed, leave it there and allow it to follow its natural instinct which is to hide in a den or cave. Do not soothe and comfort a scared dog, it will only increase the problem. Instead, be cheerful and in control.
Make sure the pet is exercised & fed well-
Take your dog out for plenty of active exercise an hour before the fireworks start and then home for a good filling meal. A tired and well fed dog will be far less anxious during the night. Make sure your dog is well identified in case of escape with a collar and tag.
Give sedatives if necessary-
If you have a nervous dog or cat, or a very old pet or a pet with a heart problem, talk to your veterinarian before the Diwali season begins. He or she might be able to supply a light sedative for the animal during high risk periods. Remember, these should be given before the firework noise begins to allow them to take effect.
Small animals need shelter-
Rabbits and other caged animals in outdoor hutches should be moved into a garage or indoor room. Cover aviaries and hutches (leaving space for ventilation) so that should the very loud noises disturb the animals, they do at least have a natural-like habitat, where they are able to hide.
Farm animals need care-
Horses often bolt from firework noise and become injured. Unless they are in a safe and secure place there is a very real risk they will get caught in fences, or break through fences or gates onto the roads. Always make sure that the horses, cows, buffaloes and donkeys are stabled while fireworks are being let off.
Help the strays as well
While looking after your pets, do not forget the stray animals in your colony. Make a round twice a day. Leave food and water for them. See if you can keep them in your garden or housing colony.
If you see any of them wounded, take them or call for an ambulance. Try and make a colony committee beforehand and each person can take turns. See that no fireworks are let off near trees.
The help of the media must be taken: newspapers, local authorities, etc. Campaigns & seminars must be run in schools, radios, through NGOs, associations and so on. Educate people especially children on the harmful effects of burning crackers.
Don't use crackers at functions-
No function should be allowed to have firework displays. Campaign from now to not have crackers /fireworks in your area. Do not attend any gathering that has fireworks.
Legal measures to be enforced-
Crackers should be inspected for noise and chemical level. Shops that sell them should be licensed and checked which ones they sell. The period of sale must be shortened. The display of fireworks should use only the nontoxic ones and should be limited to specific ares.
Your pets are your responsibility. They give unconditional love so it is your duty to protect them. Celebrate Diwali by spreading happiness, peace & love rather than hate & violence.
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About the author
Maneka Gandhi is an environmentalist & animal rights leader in India and belongs to the Nehru-Gandhi political clan.She was a magazine editor & columnist before authoring several books on law, etymology & animal welfare like Sanjay Gandhi, Brahma’s Hair and Heads & Tails.Her articles regularly feature in newspapers and magazines.
She started PFA (People for Animals) which is now the largest animal rights organization in India.It’s shelters are known world wide for the immense work in animal welfare. For more information please visit PFA’s website http://www.peopleforanimalsindia.org