Canceled 4th Fest Nets Praise From PETA—Plus Plea for Permanent End

Group Says Booms and Explosions Terrify Dogs, Cats, Wildlife, Veterans, and Other Vulnerable Members of the Community

For Immediate Release:
June 26, 2020

Nicole Meyer 202-483-7382

Chula Vista, Calif.

A box of animal-shaped vegan chocolates from Divine Treasures is on its way from PETA to Chula Vista Mayor Mary Casillas Salas, along with a letter thanking her for canceling this year’s 4th Fest fireworks display during the pandemic—and asking her to make the cancellation permanent.

PETA points out that after fireworks displays, animal shelters see a spike in the number of lost dogs, who sometimes jump fences and even break through glass doors in order to escape the terrifying noises. The blasts also cause wildlife to flee onto roads and into buildings or abandon their nests and can cause fear and panic for veterans and other people who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.

“To the most vulnerable among us, fireworks sound like an all-out war,” says PETA President Ingrid Newkirk. “PETA is asking Mayor Salas to protect everyone in Chula Vista by keeping fireworks out of Fourth of July celebrations well after the current health crisis has subsided.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way” and which opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview—suggests that Chula Vista celebrate Independence Day with a house-decorating contest or another display that’s festive but silent. PETA also offers tips for protecting animals during amateur fireworks displays here.

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PETA’s letter to Mayor Salas follows.

June 26, 2020

The Honorable Mary Casillas Salas

Mayor of Chula Vista

Dear Mayor Salas,

I’m writing on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and our more than 6.5 million members and supporters worldwide, including those in your city, in response to the announcement that Chula Vista will not host a fireworks show this year. Thank you for protecting vulnerable humans and animals by canceling this display. Please, will you make this cancellation permanent to protect all residents of Chula Vista?

Traditional fireworks sound like an all-out war—not only to those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder but also to dogs, cats, and wildlife—and their use has devastating consequences. Terrified dogs climb or dig their way out of fenced-in yards as they frantically try to escape the chaos, resulting in increased stray-animal intakes at shelters across the nation, which further strains community resources. Many arrive with bloody paws or broken bones, some are never reunited with their families, and others are doomed to a worse fate.

Fireworks produce plumes of smoke laden with particles that are harmful to the respiratory systems of humans and other animals. Birds caught in or near fireworks displays easily choke on the toxic residue. The California Coastal Commission banned the city of Gualala’s display when, following a 2006 show, seabirds fled their nests, leaving their chicks vulnerable to predators. Most birds cannot see well in the dark, so this type of disruption can cause them to become injured if they inadvertently crash into power lines, cars, buildings, trees, or each other. In one case, 5,000 birds died on a New Year’s Eve in Arkansas after a fireworks display caused them to take flight and crash into objects such as houses and cars.

Such tragedies are not limited to animals: Humans have been injured in fireworks accidents, and the displays can exacerbate asthma and other respiratory problems. Veterans and others suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder are also sensitive to and can be deeply disturbed by the noise of the explosives and the smell of the gunpowder. On average, 180 people go to emergency rooms daily with fireworks-related injuries for an entire month around July 4.

We hope you’ll consider other celebratory events, such as a house-decorating contest, and skip the fireworks in future years as well. Thank you for your time and consideration. We look forward to hearing from you.

Very truly yours,

Ingrid E. Newkirk


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