City Urged to Ban July Fourth Fireworks to Protect Wildlife, Companion Animals, and Veterans With PTSD

Debate Over Fireworks Rules Prompts PETA Plea

For Immediate Release:
April 2, 2020

Nicole Meyer 202-483-7382

Lakewood, Wash.

Because the city of Lakewood is taking public comments on tightening its fireworks regulations, which would allow residents to discharge fireworks only on July 4, PETA has sent a letter urging Mayor Don Anderson to adopt the new limitations—and keep fireworks silenced on July 4 as well.

PETA points out that people who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder can experience fear and panic at the war-like booms and 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.

“To the most vulnerable among us, fireworks sound exactly like ‘bombs bursting in air,’ and that can be terrifying,” says PETA President Ingrid Newkirk. “PETA’s thousands of members in Washington are asking Mayor Anderson to protect all of his city’s residents by saying ‘no’ to fireworks.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way” and which opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview—encourages kind people to celebrate with silent fireworks, which are richer in colorful effects and visual choreography than conventional fireworks and provide all the fanfare and celebration without any of the frightening noise.

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PETA’s letter to Mayor Don Anderson follows.

April 2, 2020

The Honorable Don Anderson

Mayor of Lakewood

Dear Mayor Anderson,

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 many thousands across Washington, in response to the proposed code amendments that would ban the discharge of fireworks on July 3 and 5. We strongly urge you to adopt these fireworks limitations and also consider banning fireworks on July 4 in order to protect all of Lakewood’s residents.

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: Many 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. And on average, 180 people go to emergency rooms daily with fireworks-related injuries for an entire month around July 4.

We hope you’ll enact the proposed restrictions and perhaps consider extending them even further by also including a ban on igniting fireworks on July 4. Thank you for your time and consideration. We look forward to hearing from you.

Very truly yours,

Ingrid E. Newkirk


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