Emergency vets say case highlights need to ban sale of fireworks

A rescue dog bolted and was hit by a car – after she was spooked by the deafening sound of fireworks.

Crossbreed Penny, a mix of Pug and King Charles Spaniel, ran off just when new owner Sandra Rolfe thought she’d successfully settled into her new home.

She was rushed into Vets Now in High Wycombe where emergency vets administered pain relief and treated her for her injuries.

Now Sandra is supporting our calls for retailers to stop selling fireworks to take account of the terrible distress and injury caused to animals each year.

Our campaign, launched last week, is already gaining momentum, with 83% of more than 3400 people polled supporting a ban on fireworks sales.

Image of Penny a mix of Pug and King Charles Spaniel for Vets Now article on ban fireworks
Penny needed emergency treatment when she bolted and was hit by a car after a firework was let off nearby ©Vets Now

Sandra said: “People were letting off fireworks and the noise was just awful. Penny was terrified and it was like she was back to how she was when I first rescued her from Green Acres dog rescue charity in Pembrokeshire.

“Her jaw was shaking and she was panting heavily. I drew all the curtains and turned up the sound on the TV to try and distract her.

“About 8.30pm the noise had finished for a while so I went outside and checked very carefully to make sure I couldn’t see or hear anything.

“Then, just as I was letting her out onto the lawn as normal to do a pee, a banger went off what felt very close by and Penny bolted.

“I was beside myself with worry and I was calling and calling on her but she didn’t come back.”

Sandra, who lives in High Wycombe, Bucks, was just getting into her car to look for Penny when her phone rang – it was someone a few streets away to say Penny had been struck by a car which hit her from behind.

Sandra said: “Thankfully I had my mobile number engraved on a tag on Penny’s collar and the people who found her wrapped her in a blanket and called me.

“When I got there poor Penny was in such a state – she’d lost a tooth, she was shaking and she was trailing her hind leg.”

Sandra bundled her up and took her straight to the Vets Now pet emergency clinic in High Wycombe where our team checked her over, administered pain relief and bandaged her bruised leg.

Penny was well enough to return home later that night – but when firework noise resumed the next day she was so distressed that Sandra had to go to her daytime vet to get a prescription for a sedative.

Image of Penny a mix of Pug and King Charles Spaniel, looking worried, for Vets Now article on ban fireworks
Rescue dog Penny had just settled into her new home when this happened ©Vets Now

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Head of telehealth at Vets Now, Dave Leicester, said her case is typical of the type Vets Now see on and around bonfire night.

He added: “Fireworks can be hugely distressing for pets, livestock and wildlife, especially when they’re let off unexpectedly.

“They are also too noisy and too easily available. To reduce the distress caused to pets we urgently need supermarkets and other retailers to take action and stop selling fireworks for private use.

“We believe fireworks should only ever be used by professional operators in organised displays around traditional dates, such as bonfire night.”

Happily, Penny was soon back to her normal self following her emergency treatment – sat by Sandra’s side on the sofa and barking madly at the TV every time a dog appears.

But Sandra is now anxious about this year’s fireworks season – and is so concerned that she is considering sending Penny to live with her daughter who lives in a quieter area for the first week of November.

Image of Penny, a mix of Pug and King Charles Spaniel with her owner for Vets Now article on ban fireworks
Thankfully, Penny has since recovered from her ordeal but Sandra is worried about what could happen this year ©Vets Now

Sandra said: “I don’t want to stop anyone’s fun – but something needs to be done to restrict firework sales.

“Fireworks are so noisy now – they just seem to get louder and louder – and it’s not fair on pets who have such sensitive hearing.

“Aside from organised displays, it shouldn’t be possible for people to buy as many fireworks as they like and just run around the streets letting them off without a thought for others.”

The Vets Now clinic in High Wycombe – where Penny received treatment – is one of a nationwide network of Vets Now clinics and pet emergency hospitals that are open through the night, seven-days-a-week, and day and night on weekends and bank holidays, to treat any pet emergencies that may occur.

All of Vets Now’s out-of-hours clinics and 24/7 hospitals have a vet and vet nurse on site at all times.

Vets Now has also recently launched an online video consultation service to make professional veterinary advice more easily available.

While the service is not suitable for life-threatening emergencies like Penny’s, their experienced vets are available to discuss any worries or concerns pet owners might have.

If a pet needs to be treated at Vets Now, pet owners are refunded the online consultation fee.