It was Vancouver’s first Halloween with a ban on fireworks, and it still went off with a big bang.
In fact, you could say the whole city-wide prohibition on fireworks pretty much…fizzled. Almost everyone – especially pet owners – heard the blasts and booms on Halloween, as well as on the days surrounding it.
“I tried to take my dog out for her evening walk,” says Jaime Sopel of North Vancouver. “It sounded like a warzone outside. She was very anxious and we had to go back inside.”
Vancouver’s Jessica Lu usually takes her dog out of town for Halloween, but didn’t this year, trusting the new ban would change things for the better.
“My dog was so anxious and looking for places to hide,” Lu told OhMyDog!. “We ended up spending time in a tiny walk-in closet insulated with clothing where she was able to settle for a few hours.”
Many owners, anticipating the fireworks, took precautionary measures such as using CBD for dogs and vet-prescribed medications, like Trazodone.
“We gave her meds from the vet which did not work,” says Lori Guilding. “I spent the week prior trying to desensitize her using YouTube fireworks, but that was no help. I spent the night consoling her with relaxing music and massage, but every time there was a pop she would bark like crazy again.”
“We were exhausted for two days afterwards.”
Many Vancouver dog owners also took to Twitter to share their disappointment, with one user tweeting, “It’s the same war zone as before surrounded by fireworks. Is the ban on fireworks even being enforced ?!!! Our dog his having severe panic attacks! Please @CityofVancouver do something!!!” (@nancyRTweets)
Now, let’s address the Great Dane in the room. Pet owners are seen by many as overreacting to Halloween fireworks; close to whining about a single night of the year. But the effects of unpredictable blasts can be serious for many dogs.
Overreaction or justified concerns?
“I don’t think people realize the trauma surrounding fireworks for animals,” says Aleigh Ateyo, night emergency officer at the BC SPCA in Vancouver. “On nights when there are fireworks, the call load is always worse. The animals are frantic and once an animal is frightened and running, they are almost impossible to catch.”
Incidents of animals running into traffic and getting hit – as a direct result of firework scares – are reported every year.
“I have to shake my head at all the people that say it is not a big deal, as it is only one night a year,” Burnaby dog parent Clint Travis tells us. “But obviously they do not own a reactive pet. Pets can die from the stress of fireworks.”
Some dog owners were surprised to see their pups remained pretty chill throughout the celebrations.
“Our puppy was fine,” says Sabrina Gagne. “It was her first exposure to such noises.”
“My dog, who is normally anxious, loved to watch the fireworks from a block away,” says C. Shoen. “He was fascinated and transfixed. What an odd boy.”
But whether your dog puts up with fireworks or is traumatized by fireworks, the fact remains that there were still fireworks on Halloween. They were set off during a city-wide ban in which offenders could be fined up to $1,000 per incident. Yet, went off as it was any other Vancouver Halloween.
“The ban was ineffective,” says Jessica Lu. “There were no communications – news articles, social media posts – informing people of the ban. No enforcement. It is also particularly isolating when pet owners are told to ‘loosen up,’ it’s only just one night of fun.”
BC SPCA launches petition for Canada-wide fireworks ban
The BC SPCA is now upping the ante and looking for a nation-wide ban to stop the cruelty that fireworks inflict upon pets and wildlife.
The organization is asking Canadians to sign a petition for a federal ban on fireworks, protecting pets from their effects.
“I’m not sure if people were setting them off in protest,” adds Jaime Sopel. “Because it seems like there was much more than the year before.”