Dog spooked by firework noise needs emergency treatment after being hit by car

When Sandra Rolfe rescued her Pug and King Charles Spaniel earlier this year, she was terrified of almost everything.

Over time, Penny realised she was in a loving home and became more relaxed.

So when people in their local area in High Wycombe started letting off fireworks, Sandra was upset to see Penny scared and frightened, like when she first came home.

But the noise then left Penny seriously injured when she bolted and was hit by a car because she was so scared.

She was rushed into Vets Now in High Wycombe where emergency vets administered pain relief and treated her for her injuries. 

Now Sandra is supporting emergency vets’ calls for retailers to stop selling fireworks to take account of the terrible distress and injury caused to animals each year. 

Sandra said: ‘People were letting off fireworks and the noise was just awful. Penny was terrified and it was like she was back to how she was when I first rescued her from Green Acres dog rescue charity in Pembrokeshire. 

‘Her jaw was shaking and she was panting heavily. I drew all the curtains and turned up the sound on the TV to try and distract her. 

‘About 8.30pm the noise had finished for a while so I went outside and checked very carefully to make sure I couldn’t see or hear anything. 

‘Then, just as I was letting her out onto the lawn as normal to do a pee, a banger went off what felt very close by and Penny bolted. 

‘I was beside myself with worry and I was calling and calling on her but she didn’t come back.’

Sandra, who lives in High Wycombe, Bucks, was just getting into her car to look for Penny when someone a few streets away called to say Penny had been struck by a car. 

Sandra said: ‘Thankfully I had my mobile number engraved on a tag on Penny’s collar and the people who found her, wrapped her in a blanket and called me.’

‘When I got there poor Penny was in such a state – she’d lost a tooth, she was shaking and she was trailing her hind leg.’

Sandra rushed her to the Vets Now pet emergency clinic in High Wycombe where she was checked over and given pain relief. 

Luckily, Penny was well enough to return home later that night – but when firework noise resumed the next day she was so distressed that Sandra had to go to her daytime vet to get a prescription for a sedative. 

Sandra is now anxious about this year’s fireworks season – and is so concerned that she is considering sending Penny to live with her daughter who lives in a quieter area for the first week of November. 

Sandra said: ‘I don’t want to stop anyone’s fun – but something needs to be done to restrict firework sales. 

‘Fireworks are so noisy now – they just seem to get louder and louder – and it’s not fair on pets who have such sensitive hearing. 

‘Aside from organised displays, it shouldn’t be possible for people to buy as many fireworks as they like and just run around the streets letting them off without a thought for others.’

With fears that there will be more private displays this year as big events have been cancelled due to coronavirus, Vets Now is calling on supermarkets to take action.

The RSPCA have estimated that 45% of dogs in the UK show signs of fear when they hear fireworks, and with a surge in puppy ownership during this year’s lockdown, vets are also concerned that many new pet owners might not be aware  their pet is scared. 

In an open letter, Dave Leicester, head of telehealth at Vets Now, has issued a plea for sales to stop to prevent animals being traumatised and injured on and around bonfire night. Members of the public can back these calls by signing a change.org petition. 

How to help your dog during firework season

Before the fireworks begin, you should:

  • Take your dog for their usual walk before the fireworks are set off and ensure they are kept on a lead at all times as the noise of fireworks may cause them to bolt
  • Feed them a good meal well before the fireworks are due to start
  • Ensure your pet is wearing ID so that if they do run away there’s a greater chance of them being returned to you
  • Ensure your dog is microchipped and wears a collar and tag — these are both legal requirements
  • Get your dog used to loud noises. You can do this using sound therapy, which gradually exposes your dog to noises over time. There are many products available, including free sound-based treatment programmes from Dog’s Trust.

Regardless of your dog’s reaction to fireworks, you should NEVER do any of the following:

  • Tie your dog up outside if fireworks are being set off
  • Let them off the lead near a fireworks display
  • Leave your dog alone if they are suffering from firework anxiety — just like us, our pets seek comfort in numbers, so your presence will help reassure him
  • Shout at your dog if they are destructive as a result of distress — this will only upset them more

Vets Now has more advice about dogs, as well as other pets, around Halloween and Bonfire Night

Head of telehealth at Vets Now, Dave Leicester, said cases like Penny’s are typical this time of year.

He added: ‘Fireworks can be hugely distressing for pets, livestock and wildlife, especially when they’re let off unexpectedly. 

‘They are also too noisy and too easily available. To reduce the distress caused to pets we urgently need supermarkets and other retailers to take action and stop selling fireworks for private use. 

‘We believe fireworks should only ever be used by professional operators in organised displays around traditional dates, such as bonfire night.’

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