Spate of serious injuries on bonfire night sparks demand for action

A dog ripped her tooth out in a desperate attempt to escape from her crate after being panicked by fireworks.

Terrified Staffie Marnie tried to bite her way free and owner Vanessa Wilsher found her covered in blood in the wrecked crate.

Nine-year-old Marnie had to be rushed to Vets Now in Barton-le-Clay for emergency surgery after the horror incident.

Now Vanessa is backing Vets Now’s calls for major retailers to stop selling fireworks due to the distress it causes pets and wildlife.

Image of Marnie the Staffordshire bull terrier for Vets Now article on dogs scared of fireworks
The sound of fireworks scared Marnie so much she ripped her tooth out when trying to get out of her crate ©Vets Now

Care home cleaner Vanessa, from Bedford, has suffered fireworks misery with Marnie for the past five years.

“It’s been something that’s gradually got worse as she’s got older,” said Vanessa, 39.

“She wasn’t really a nervous dog but now she gets so scared with the loud bangs that she does anything she can to get away from them.

“We’ve come to absolutely dread Bonfire night, but other occasions fireworks go off, like New Year, Diwali or Eid are a problem too.

“We try not to leave her at all near any of those times but if one goes off unexpectedly, we’ve found her trying to hide in the kitchen cupboard, down the side of the fridge or even in the tumble dryer.

“If she gets upstairs, she’ll try and take up the carpet to burrow under it.”

Vanessa has tried all sorts of things to ease Marnie’s agonies, including herbal tablets prescribed by her vet, playing loud music and turning the TV volume up.

But she always dreads November and a few days before Bonfire night last year, fireworks bangs resulted in the horrific injury.

“I had to pop out, so I put her in her crate, which is her safe place, covered it up and left music on,” said Vanessa. “When I came back after 45 minutes, she had been trying to bite her way out of it.

“It was mangled and you could see where she’d chewed it away, but in doing that she’d ripped her tooth and part of her gum.

“There was blood everywhere and I didn’t actually realise where it was coming from at first. I thought she’d maybe torn a claw trying to paw her way out but then I heard a funny noise when she licked her lip and I saw her canine tooth flapping.

“It was just a horrific thing to see.”

Vanessa knew she needed urgent help at rushed Marnie straight to Vets Now.

Our Barton-le-Clay clinic is one of a nationwide chain of more than 60 hospitals and clinics open seven days a week for out-of-hours pet emergencies.

Staff at the clinic had to assess the damage and try and work out the best course of action.

Head of telehealth at Vets Now, Dave Leicester, said: “Marnie’s case is typical of the types of cases our emergency vets see on and around bonfire night.

“It shows just how distressing fireworks can be for pets, especially when they’re let off unexpectedly.

“They are also too noisy and too easily available. We are calling on all retailers to look at their consciences and ask if they really need to sell fireworks for private use.

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

Image of Marnie the Staffordshire bull terrier for Vets Now article on dogs scared of fireworks
Vanessa has tried several methods to help ease Marnie's anxiety but nothing has worked ©Vets Now

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Vanessa was just relieved that Marnie was in the best possible hands.

“They had said they’d try and get the tooth out without having to anaesthetise her for surgery but that wasn’t possible,” said Vanessa.

“She still came through it really well and we were able to get her home with us later that night. She was a bit drowsy, but she was more like herself the next day.

“It was a few days before Bonfire night and on the day itself she just sat cuddled in with us on the sofa, shaking and panting.”

Vanessa is already bracing herself for the coming weeks and feels something has to be done.

“I think they should only have fireworks at organised displays,” added Vanessa. “You shouldn’t be able to just have these really loud fireworks at home.”

Image of Marnie the Staffordshire bull terrier for Vets Now article on dogs scared of fireworks
After Marnie's ordeal last year, Vanessa is dreading this year's fireworks season ©Vets Now

The Vets Now clinic in Barton-le-Clay – where Marnie 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, 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.