The coming festive season brings with it holidays, celebrations and the extensive use of fireworks to herald in the coming of the New Year. As a precursor to the coming festivities, Guy Fawkes is celebrated on 5 November. Although beautiful to watch, fireworks bring with it untold trauma for pets and animals. Annually the White River SPCA has their hands full in dealing with the aftermath of lost, frightened and injured pets.
“During Guy Fawkes and New Year’s eve we have lots of animals that get out of their property for fear of the loud explosions caused by fireworks,” said Estelle de Villiers, Treasurer of White River SPCA. “Dogs are known to get stuck in palisades and injure themselves trying to get through the sharp points of the fencing.”
“The White River SAPS accompanies the White River SPCA during their street patrols on New Year’s Eve for an hour or two. However, the enforcement of bylaws pertaining to fireworks is still an ongoing issue in White River. People do not receive any warnings or fines.”
According to De Villiers the public can support the efforts of the SPCA in protecting animals from being harmed by not buying fireworks. “The public should not support companies or vendors which sell fireworks. Parents should also educate their children about how very sensitive animals are to noise, far more so than humans The best advice I can give to pet owners is to keep their pet indoors with them. Calming tablets for your pet can also be obtained from vets,” concludes De Villiers.
The White River SPCA is always on duty 24 hours a day whether it is the festive season or not. Their kennels are open and will operate normal hours. The only days that they will be closed is on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Years Day. However, we have an emergency number (082 706 1240) which people can call for lost pets and they can also report it to White River Animal Hospital 073 963 2748, Lowveld Vet 013 004 0283 or 074 145 3964 and the Whatsapp group of Lost and Found Pets. Stray dogs can be reported to Thulani Mkhabela (Manager Public Safety) 013 759 2229 or 013 759 2133 or to Eddie Prolius 013 759 2121.
Regulations pertaining to the use of fireworks fall under the Explosives Act 15 of 2003 which applies nationally. The improper use of fireworks is illegal and it is important to remind residents of the strict fireworks regulations and their rights to demand Council action against illegal firework usage. There are designated open places or spaces set aside for members of the public to discharge fireworks around the country.
A few facts about fireworks which are applicable everywhere:
- Unless special Council authorisation has been applied for and granted, there are only 11 days annually when residents may “light or ignite” fireworks. Except for New Year’s Eve, the only permissible time for igniting fireworks on these days is between 19h00 and 22h00.
- No person may light or ignite fireworks in any place where animals are present, including domestic homes.
- No person may allow any minor under his or her control to “use, light or ignite” fireworks
- No person may use fireworks on any agricultural holding or at any school or senior citizens’ residence without special Council authorisation.
- No person may use fireworks within 500 meters of a petrol depot or petrol station without special Council authorisation. Areas where fireworks are to be discharged must be at least 100m from buildings, roads and railway lines. Areas where fireworks are to be discharged must be at least 20m from telephone and power lines, trees or other overhead obstructions.
- No person or organisation can “present a fireworks display” unless formally authorised to do so by the Council. Authorisation is also required from the Civil Aviation Authority and the Chief Inspector of Explosives. At such a display (should permission be granted) both a pyrotechnics and an SA Police Services explosives expert must be present.
- No person may deal in fireworks (sell or make available) unless they hold a fireworks license in terms of the Explosives Act as well as the written authority of the Chief Fire Officer (Capt. Paul Rood on 013 759 1155).