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The sound of silence

PETA offers $5,000 to organizations that will use silent fireworks


PETA offers $5,000 to organizations that will use silent fireworks

Many consider the Fourth of July to be a celebration, where proud Americans grill up hamburgers and hot dogs and come evening, sit to watch a colorful pyrotechnic display. However, not everyone experiences the excitement that fireworks supposedly incite. Ask a dog owner, and you may hear an entirely different story.

“There are many pets and wildlife who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and loud noises like fireworks can be terrifying,” said Kate Tuggle, a spokesperson for the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

According to Tuggle, animal shelters across the country brace for an influx of lost or injured animals every July fourth.

“We have seen time and time again, that animals will panic and they will attempt to escape the home,” said Tuggle. “They might run into sliding glass doors, or run into traffic and some are killed and others go missing.”

In a letter to the editor, Lindsay Pollard-Post, senior writer at PETA, wrote, “Desperate to escape the deafening explosions, dogs and cats have jumped fences, crashed through windows, broken chains, and bolted out doors, often severely injuring themselves or getting killed in traffic.

Many are never reunited with their guardians. Birds who are startled by fireworks have abandoned their nests, sometimes orphaning their fledglings, and crashed into buildings in frantic attempts to flee in the dark.”

This level of a trauma inflicted on animals by a yearly celebration has called for the creation of options other than traditional fireworks.

“Quite frankly,” said Tuggle, “in this day and age, there is no need with the advancements in fireworks, to put animals and wildlife through what could be an extremely stressful and deadly experience in the name of celebration.”

Those advancements include the creation of silent fireworks.

“It sounds like an oxymoron,” said Tuggle. “[Silent fireworks] are quieter than traditional fireworks. Traditional fireworks can be up to 170 decibels in sound, and the World Health Organization says that 120 decibels is the pain threshold for sound. The deafening booms that make people cover their ears— silent fireworks do not have those.”

If the decrease in noise is not enough to entice a switch to silent fireworks, Tuggle said that the displays are often more colorful than of traditional fireworks.

According to an article by Steph Yin in the New York Times, this is because the chemical compounds in silent fireworks burn slower than in the traditional sort. Because the explosions in silent fireworks are less powerful, the colors shine brighter from having more time to burn as they drift down from the sky, as opposed to a large initial explosion that burns through the color and leaves no time for that color to spread.

Tuggle said that silent fireworks have just begun to rise in popularity, with people only taking notice in the last five years.

According to Tuggle, parts of Europe have already adopted the practice, with the town of Collecchio, Italy making it law in 2015 that all fireworks displays must be silent.

To encourage municipalities in the U.S. to adopt this animal-friendly option, PETA has offered $5,000 toward the cost of the Fourth of July celebration if the venue is to use silent fireworks. Recently, Costa Mesa, Calif. made the switch.

Until more communities decide to do the same, Tuggle offered some tips to help furry friends deal with the stress of Independence Day.

For pets that are nearby and have no choice but to listen to fireworks displays, Tuggle recommended four-legged friends don the popular anti-anxiety vests for pets called ThunderShirts. She also suggested distracting pets by playing games, playing classical music, rewarding them with treats for ignoring explosions and keeping lights on. Closing windows, doors, curtains and blinds can also be effective, as well as making sure each animal is either microchipped or wearing a collar.

“We hope that it goes without saying,” said Tuggle, “but never take your dog to fireworks displays. The weather is usually nice and you’re going to be outside in the park. It might be tempting to say, ‘Oh, I’ll just take my dog for a walk.’ That’s the worst place for them to be: outside, where the explosions are happening.”

If you do decide to take your animal outside, Pollard-Post recommends that animals be on a leash, in a fenced area and under constant supervision.


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