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Milton is the proud home to animals of all kinds. We have a sizable equestrian community, and many residents have pets like cats and dogs. When fireworks go off, these animals can suffer.
Why? Because the loud, sudden noises can set off animals. Horses, especially, tend to have a natural “flight” (vs. fight) reaction and may start running wildly when fireworks go off. When they do, they might get hurt slamming into trees, going through or over fences, or simply having medical issues from the extreme stress. Such reactions can endanger nearby property, the animals and -- especially considering horses can be very strong and weigh up to 2,000 pounds -- any human working to control them.
Other pets, like dogs and cats, can also have extreme reactions to fireworks. It might be barking or running or simply tensing up. Sometimes the stress can linger and cause other health issues down the line.
WHAT GOOD NEIGHBORS SHOULD DO
It’s understandable some light off fireworks the night of July 4 or New Year’s Eve, say. Still, you can have fun and still be considerate to neighbors -- including your animal neighbors.
Here are some things to keep in mind.
- Tell neighbors before you set off any fireworks, so they can take care of their animals. It’s much easier to come up with an action plan to keep everyone’s animals safe with specific details on hand.
- If you’re hiring a professional company to do fireworks in your neighborhood, they need to get a permit through the State of Georgia. That approved permit then comes to the City of Milton’s Fire Marshal (reachable at Fire.Marshal@cityofmiltonga.us) to consider. The City can then help inform people in the surrounding area. (Note that people setting off fireworks in their yards on allowed dates don’t need permits, so City staff and firefighters won't know about that in advance.)
- Don’t set off fireworks sporadically and/or for an extended period of time. It’s one thing for loud bangs to go off for 15 minutes and be done with. It’s even more challenging for animal owners if they go off at random intervals over a 4- or 5-hour stretch, especially if that goes on over several days.
- Restrict your firework use to only the specified dates allowed by the City. On those dates, at least, animal owners can be more prepared.
- Some fireworks are louder than others. Given the choice, try not to use louder ones as they’ll potentially be most harmful to animals.
- Be on the lookout for any animals that may have escaped because they’d been scared during the fireworks.
TIPS FOR HORSE AND PET OWNERS
It’s important to do several critical things to keep your animals (and those of your neighbors) safe, healthy and happy when fireworks go off.
- Make sure the boundary of your yard and/or pasture is secure just in case any animals try to make a run for it
- Consider doing the following beforehand for your animals (in case they do escape): 1) take up-to-date photos, 2) get them microchipped or have some other way for others to identify them and/or 3) if your animals are already microchipped, make sure that the information in the microchip registry are up to date.
- If possible, keep animals indoors (i.e. your home or barn) during fireworks.
- Turn on soothing music to help block out the additional noise and keep your animals calm.
- Consider talking to your vet about potentially using medication to calm anxiety if your animal has a history of bad reactions to fireworks
- Keep sparklers, glowsticks, fireworks, charcoals and kabob skewers away from curious pets.
- Afterward, examine your yard and/or pasture for firework debris. Many fireworks contain heavy metals and other chemicals that can be hazardous to animals, so make sure all of these are disposed of before allowing your animals back into these areas.
And for horse owners especially:
- Do NOT ride your horse while fireworks are going on. If your horse spooks, both you and your horse could be injured.
- Try to keep your horse’s daily routine as regular as possible. Horses are much more likely to become nervous if many things are changing at once.
- Food (especially in a slow feeder or a treat) is a good way to distract your horses from the fireworks going on in the background. Make sure your horse has plenty of hay, as well as enough bedding.
- If possible, don’t leave stalled horses alone. Horses are herd animals, after all. Try to make sure they can at least see their companions, as this will help them stay calm.
- Don’t tie your horse when fireworks are going off. Restraints can cause the horse to panic even more and become hurt.
- Stay near your horse, check on them throughout the evening to make sure they’re doing OK.
- Try plugging your horses ears with cotton or small foam balls, or with ear coverings, to limit the amount of noise they hear. Do this well ahead of time; you don’t want to potentially make your horse even more nervous by introducing something new at the last moment.
- Keep the barn lights on to help minimize the flashes of light from fireworks.