Exploding firecrackers to greet the New Year is risky not only to humans, but to their pets as well.
The loud revelry, especially the explosion of powerful firecrackers, is extremely traumatic to animals whose sense of hearing is five times keener than humans.
Various groups and animal welfare advocates assembled with their pets in front of the Malate Catholic Church on Saturday to call on Filipinos to shun firecrackers and fireworks during the New Year revelry.
The EcoWaste Coalition and the Our Lady of Remedies Parish co-organized the gathering with the theme, “Love Animals, Paputok Hurts,” as part of the groups’ “Iwas PapuToxic” campaign.
They were joined by members of the Animal Kingdom Foundation (AKF), Compassion and Responsibility for Animals (CARA Welfare Philippines), Dog Breeds and Breeders, Philippine Animal Lovers and WeDogs.
To draw public attention to the ordeal that animals have to endure during the New Year, the advocates donned animal-like headgear as they paraded with their pets from the church to the nearby Plaza Rajah Sulayman.
“Our traditional New Year festivities have become unbearably loud for humans and animals alike, but since many animal species have highly sensitive ears, this deafening mayhem becomes an annual rite that tortures them,” lamented Aileen Lucero, national coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition.
“As caretakers of nature, we are bound by a common duty not to harm other creatures that inhabit the earth, so please do not make animals suffer from the superfluous blasting of firecrackers and fireworks to herald the New Year,” said Rev. Father Michael Martin of the Our Lady of Remedies Parish who later officiated a special blessing of the gathered animals.
“Cats, dogs, birds and other small animals exposed to the bursting of firecrackers are easily frightened and can suffer from an irreversible hearing impairment, eye damage, and in some cases, heart problems,” said Heidi Caguioa of AKF.
“Aside from harming their highly sensitive ears, the explosive and random booms, the pungent fumes, and the bright displays of light also hurt the animals’ powerful noses and keen eyesight,” she added.
The fear and panic caused by firecracker noise can severely stress animals resulting in stomach upset, loss of appetite, and to some extent, decreased sense of direction.
The groups gave the following tips to help animals survive the deafening noise:
1. Persuade members of your household to make your home a “no firecracker” zone.
2. Politely tell your neighbors not to light or throw firecrackers near your home.
3. Exercise your pets during the days leading up to New Year’s Eve and in the next morning when the festivities are over and the smoke has cleared.
4. Give your pets a physical outlet for their pent up energy due to arousal and stress.
5. Manage the environment so it is as relaxing as possible and as less stressful as you can make it.
6. Provide your pets with a safe place to take temporary refuge. If possible, allow them to stay in a quiet room such as a bedroom.
7. Close the windows, put the curtains down and play relaxing music to neutralize the noise from the outside to help your pets feel secure.
8. Ensure your pets’ access to drinking water. Make them pee or poo.
9. Do not yell or laugh at your pets when they are cowering or shaking in fear. This is a natural response to a threat that they do not understand and cannot avoid.