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New Firework Regulations Are Not Enough [11/08/2004]

The RSPCA has criticised the government for missing an opportunity to prevent the suffering of thousands of animals due to loud fireworks. By failing to reduce the maximum noise level of fireworks available to the public, terrified dogs and other pets will continue to suffer stress, injury and possible death.

New firework regulations mean that from Saturday 7th August it will be illegal for retailers to sell fireworks louder than 120dB (equivalent to a jet aircraft taking off) to the general public. This is the same maximum noise level that was specified in a voluntary code already in force and will mean no reduction to the distress loud fireworks cause animals.

In its submission to a government consultation on fireworks, the RSPCA gave examples of how the lives of thousands of animals are made a misery by loud fireworks and many are killed and injured because they are so frightened. The Society also outlined research carried out for its 'Quiet Please' fireworks campaign that showed a maximum noise level of 95dB (the equivalent to a door slamming) would make a significant difference to the welfare of animals.

The RSPCA is disappointed because the government has ignored its request for it to be compulsory for organisers of professional firework displays (who can continue to use fireworks louder than 120dB) to alert pet owners so they can take steps to protect their pets.

The Society also expressed concern that the draft regulations focused on the impact on people of anti-social behaviour involving fireworks and neglected the plight of animals - and this continues to be the case.

In a MORI poll, 78 per cent of people agreed loud fireworks should only be allowed at public displays. In addition, 90,000 people signed a petition in support of quieter fireworks which was delivered to 10 Downing Street last November.

Steve Cheetham, the RSPCA's chief veterinary officer, said: "This legislation does nothing to alleviate the suffering of animals and the government has missed a great opportunity to do something about it. Its failure to sufficiently reduce the noise level of fireworks means that thousands of animals will continue to suffer. We have received a huge amount of support for our campaign for quieter fireworks and there will be many disappointed pet owners up and down the country."

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