Donkey’s Death Prompts Appeal for ‘Safe and Sane’ Fireworks

After Sammy Dies of Suspected Fright, PETA Urges House Speaker to Ban Deafening Explosives

For Immediate Release:
August 7, 2019

Megan Wiltsie 202-483-7382


A beloved miniature donkey named Sammy died—likely of fright—during this year’s Fourth of July fireworks in Milton, and PETA sent a letter this morning to the Georgia house speaker, governor, and Senate majority leader with a proposal: Ban all but “safe and sane” fireworks (ones that don’t explode like “bombs bursting in air”) to protect noise-sensitive domesticated animals, wildlife, children, veterans, and elderly people and to prevent more tragedies like Sammy’s death.

“Animals panic, become separated from their guardians, and even die because of these World War II–type explosions, so we’re asking lawmakers to enact common-sense fireworks legislation,” says PETA President Ingrid Newkirk. “To protect the more vulnerable among us, PETA is urging the introduction of ‘Sammy’s Law,’ to switch to drones, laser light shows, and other modern ways to celebrate.”

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PETA’s letter to Georgia House Speaker David Ralston, Gov. Brian Kemp, and Senate Majority Leader Mike Dugan follows.

August 7, 2019

The Honorable David Ralston
Speaker of the House
Georgia House of Representatives

Dear Mr. Speaker,

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 in Georgia, in response to reports that a beloved miniature donkey from Milton named Sammy died from fright during last month’s Fourth of July fireworks. We have a proposal that I hope will spark your interest: Would you please introduce legislation in Sammy’s name that would ban all but “safe and sane” fireworks to prevent things like this from happening again and to protect noise-sensitive wildlife, domestic animals, children, veterans, and elderly people?

As you may know, fireworks can cause even the calmest of animals to panic, attempt to flee, or even die, as Sammy did, from the terrifying noise. Sammy is not the only beloved animal to have died this way. A few years ago, a horse, also from Milton, was spooked so badly that he ran into a barn wall and broke his neck. Animal shelters and wildlife rescues report a large increase in the number of animals they receive following fireworks displays. Aiken County Animal Shelter’s manager Bobby Arthurs says that only about 7% of these animals are ever reunited with their guardians. Often, dogs like Trout of North Fulton panic as they try to escape from the loud noise and end up getting lost. Some have been known to jump through glass windows or over fences and end up being seriously hurt or killed. Wild animals, such as deer, flee onto roads, where they may be killed and endanger drivers. The loud blasts also cause birds to fly into chimneys and houses—and even to abandon their nests and young.

The stress caused by fireworks is not limited to animals: Veterans and others suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder are sensitive to and can be deeply disturbed by the noise of the explosives.

States such as Florida, Maryland, and Virginia allow the use of only safe and sane fireworks, which are non-explosive and non-aerial. Passing “Sammy’s Law” and banning explosive consumer fireworks and all other types in Georgia, while permitting safe and sane options, would enable the state to continue to raise revenue from fireworks sales even as it also provides a way for residents to celebrate in a safer, quieter manner for the sake of all who live in the state. Thank you for your consideration.

Very truly yours,

Ingrid E. Newkirk

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