Fireworks nightmare for pets is nearly here

Quiet fireworks and more organised displays are helping taking the fear out of bonfire night for pets in Churchdown.

The community there has backed a campaign to reduce the stress of fireworks for animals after a dog was put down after it suffered panic attacks.

Days of persistent loud bangs left greyhound Leo petrified, and forced his owners to take drastic action to end his misery.

With just a few weeks to go until the bangs begin ahead of November 5, Leo’s Legacy, a charity set up in his name, has received widespread support.

It is now appealing to supermarkets to change their policy on the sale of fireworks, by encouraging them to sell quieter pyrotechnics.

Dog lover Garry Atkinson, who established the charity after hearing Leo’s sad tale, said the message is beginning to get across to people considering hosting their own displays this year.

He said: “Because of that support our website now has an official ‘’ petition for sympathisers to sign.

“We hope our concerns over the excessive use of fireworks and their effects on animals maybe now debated at a higher level.

“We have also been in contact with the major supermarkets regarding their fireworks policy, in particular the sale of the quieter type of fireworks which we would advocate.

“We received responses to our letters and gained positive and encouraging feedback from Asda in particular.

“Churchdown Parish Council has agreed to be associated with Leo’s Legacy for its display on November 7, by encouraging people to attend, as opposed to having their own over successive nights.”

My Churchdown is a free monthly magazine that has offered free advertising to the charity to help spread the message for residents to curtail their firework displays. Posters will also be displayed around the area in the run up to November 5.

Check out Leo’s Legacy

Garry now wants the idea to be extended nationally to help other pet owners across the country.

Leo’s symptoms caused him to panic, dehydrate and reject food. As more displays took place, his distress often extended to weeks. The difficult decision to put him to sleep was taken with his owners under advice from vets.

Bill Whelan, Churchdown Parish Council chairman, said restricting the sale of loud fireworks will also help reduce anti-social behaviour.

He said: “The charity came to us looking for support and we told them that their concerns was one of the reasons why we stage an organised display at Churchdown Park every year.

“We wanted to stop people from letting off fireworks in the street and around the houses and have built up the display from there.

“Most of the shops in this area have stopped selling the bigger fireworks and the loud bangers. Tesco also has a strict policy in place of the sale of fireworks. They will never stop selling them. But they can only sell them between a restricted period.

“We want to stop people from letting them off in their back garden. It has been a gradual process, but we are seeing a reduction in anti-social behaviour as a result in this area, related to fireworks.”

The Churchdown attraction draws in thousands each year, with a 4,000 capacity for this year. Around 70 volunteers are needed to help marshal the event. Advance tickets are £2 for children and £3 for adults.

Churchdown firm Sandling Fireworks is providing devices for this year’s event. It has competed in national competitions for displays and offers full training and safety advice. It is also offering quieter fireworks to help protect animals.

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