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Firework safety for assistance dogs

IN THE run-up to the New Year celebrations, guide dog and other assistance dog owners were becoming increasingly worried about the safety of their dogs, many of whom find the loud bangs associated with fireworks too much to bear.

Assistance Dogs UK – a coalition of the charities Guide Dogs, Canine Partners, Dogs for the Disabled, Hearing Dogs and Support Dogs – encouraged the public to attend fully-organised displays on New Year's Eve, or alternatively ensure that fireworks are let off well away from residential areas.

Letters detailing the plight of the dogs and urging people to be mindful of this appeared in regional newspapers across the country. The letter, signed by Alan Brooks Chairman of Assistance Dogs UK, said: ‘Sadly, some assistance dogs that have been severely affected by the sound of fireworks have to take medication, which stops them working for a while. The symptoms are shaking, quivering, nervousness and cowering – a kind of canine 'shell shock' so severe that dogs have to be sedated for several days.

‘In the more severe cases, dogs become so traumatised that they are forced into an early retirement, as they are unable to cope with everyday noises such as train doors slamming or the sound of a car backfiring.

‘These scenarios mean the disabled person is left without the help of their dog, their lifeline in providing freedom and independence. They are often left housebound, fearing the impact of fireworks on their dog's health and ability to work.

‘Assistance Dogs (UK) is grateful to all the readers for following its advice on fireworks, and wishes everyone a safe, warm and peaceful New Year.’