This story is absolutely tragic.
Facebook user Susan Paterson blew up the internet after writing an emotional post about the death of her 18-week-old black terrier puppy, Molly, over the weekend. Loud noises caused by fireworks around the Wombwell and lower Darfield area in South Yorkshire caused the young puppy so much distress that it spurred on a heart attack; a heart attack that killed her.
Peters wrote in the Public Facebook group Wombwell wise:
“Due to the enormous amount of fireworks with loud bangs going off around Wombwell and lower Darfield last night, we lost a young terrier with a heart attack. Please think of the animals. Molly was only 18 weeks old and died of FRIGHT caused by fireworks Please support FAB Anti Random Fireworks page and sign their petition.”
In response to this, Facebook group FAB Anti random Firework page posted:
“Is this fair? Molly, poor sweet pup.. Her heart gave out with fear. Her sister Sally the blonde pup will miss her greatly and will be traumatized seeing her sister die. This can’t go on…”
Paterson went on to post this photo of Molly (left) on her own personal Facebook page, urging people to sign a petition to protect animals from the dangers of fireworks. The petition is calling upon the government to review firework rules to protect animals from injury and distress in the UK. Unsurprisingly, Molly’s story appears to be driving a new wave of individuals to the petition page and at the time of writing this, the page had collected well over 500,000 of the desired 1 million signatures.
The petition states that around 40% of all dogs are scared by loud noises, which means that thousands of dogs suffer serious stress around fireworks season every year.
Julie Doorne, who started the petition, writes:
“Fireworks can cause serious distress to animals. They don’t only suffer psychologically, but also physically as many attempt to run away from, or hide from, the bangs. With extreme noise levels and people being able to let off fireworks any time of year, it’s difficult for those who care for animals to be able to put measures in place to protect their animals.”
“Every year the RSPCA receives hundreds of calls about the terrible effect fireworks are having on animals – not just dogs and cats, but other pets, livestock and wildlife. There are also frequent reports of horses harming themselves by crashing into stable doors and over fences. These poor animals don’t understand what is causing the loud bangs and bright flashes.”
The petition – which is literally collecting more and more signatures as I type – is calling for the 2003 Fireworks Act and the 2004 Fireworks Regulations to be updated; according to Doorne, the laws do little to protect animals at this time of year. Supporters want the government to consider the following:
“Restricting private use (not just purchase) of fireworks to traditional dates such as November 5th, New Year’s Eve, Chinese New Year and Diwali.
“Reducing the maximum permitted decibels for private use fireworks from 120, which is above the human pain threshold, to 97.
“Requiring all public fireworks displays to be licensed.
“Requiring fireworks packaging to be labelled indicating the noise level, to allow consumer choice.”
Doorne ends her petition by saying: “When it comes to fireworks, animals need protecting.”
I’ve seen first hand how random loud bangs from fireworks can negatively affect animals; it’s distressing for them and it’s distressing for owners to watch and manage. And it’s not just distressing for animals either; loud bangs from random fireworks can cause a huge amount of distress for young children, too. When I was a toddler I was really sensitive to all kinds of loud bangs (fireworks, balloons etc.); the parents tells me the bangs from fireworks would often keep me awake at night and generally cause me a huge amount of stress that for most of the time, I simply had to wait out. At least as a toddler I could somewhat rationalise what was happening – animals simply react to a disturbing and potentially threatening sound.
I think this is one of these situations where we need to start thinking sensitively for those who can’t control their reactions to such noises. Molly’s death is particularly heart-breaking, but the reality is there are thousands of animals suffering every night around this time of year, and for them, I think we need to implement some change – as Sainsbury’s recently have.
I’m not jumping to the other end of the spectrum and suggesting we ban all fireworks all together, I’m just saying things aren’t quite right if puppies are having heart attacks. Silent fireworks seem a sensible way forward, if you ask me.
I’m just going to echo what the petition wrote to round this off: “When it comes to fireworks, animals need protecting.”
Images via FAB Anti random Fireworks and Wombwell wise Facebook pages, Susan Paterson (Facebook) and Getty
Having worked in children's media and publishing for almost a decade, Ben is thoroughly excited to now be able to swear in stories and features. He is such a big fan of Disney and Horror films that he started an LGBTQ+ podcast called 'Once Upon A Scream'. His mum listens. You can contact Ben at email@example.com. Twitter: @PulsfordBen / Instagram: @thebenmidlerFollow