For Immediate Release:
June 30, 2021
Tapi Mbundure 202-483-7382
Portland, Ore. – Portland Fire & Rescue has banned fireworks in the run-up to the Fourth of July because of this week’s hot and dry conditions—and in a letter sent this morning to Mayor Ted Wheeler, PETA asks him to continue protecting Portlanders by keeping the ban in place year-round.
PETA notes that fireworks don’t just start fires. Every Independence Day (and any other time fireworks go off), animal shelters see a spike in lost animals who have jumped fences, broken through doors, and otherwise fled the noise. Multnomah County Animal Services reports a 25% increase around the holiday. The blasts can also cause panicked wildlife to flee onto roads and can be deeply distressing to military veterans and other noise-sensitive individuals.
“To the most vulnerable among us, fireworks really do sound like ‘bombs bursting in air,’ and that can be terrifying,” says PETA President Ingrid Newkirk. “PETA is encouraging Portland leaders to let fireworks fizzle and honor the stars and stripes peacefully every year—for everyone’s sake.”
PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit PETA.org or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.
PETA’s letter to Wheeler follows.
June 30, 2021
The Honorable Ted Wheeler
Mayor of Portland
Dear Mr. Wheeler:
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 several hundred in Portland itself, in response to Portland Fire & Rescue’s recent ban on the use of all fireworks because of the unusually high temperatures and dry conditions. Please, will you make this cancellation permanent to protect all residents of Portland, including humans, domesticated animals, and wildlife?
As you may well realize, in addition to being a fire risk, fireworks displays cause dogs to panic, and Multnomah County Animal Services reports a 25% increase in companion animals entering the shelter during the 10-day period around the Fourth of July compared to a typical 10-day period in the summer. Terrified dogs, hearing “bombs bursting in air,” climb, break, or dig their way out of wherever they are as they frantically try to escape the chaos, resulting in increased intakes at shelters, further straining community resources. Many arrive with bloody paws, some with broken bones; some are never reunited with their families; and others are doomed to a worse fate, hit by cars or strangled when their collars are caught on fences as they clamber or jump over.
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 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 lead to injuries 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 slam into objects such as houses and cars.
I’m sure you also know that humans are often injured in fireworks accidents and that displays can exacerbate asthma and other respiratory problems. Veterans and others suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder are 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 make this ban permanent to allow all vulnerable individuals to celebrate Independence Day without harm or fear. Thank you for your time and consideration. We look forward to hearing from you.
Very truly yours,