Fireworks Scare Animals to Death—Literally; PETA Asks Freedom Celebration to Host Laser Show Instead

For Immediate Release:
May 29, 2024

David Perle 202-483-7382

Idaho Falls, Idaho

Dogs break through fences in terror, birds abandon their nests, and panicked animals flee onto roadways during fireworks shows. That’s why PETA sent a letter this morning to Melaleuca Inc. Executive Chair Frank L. VanderSloot asking him to reallocate the resources usually spent to produce the Melaleuca Freedom Celebration’s fireworks display—which USA Today notes is the biggest fireworks show west of the Mississippi River—to an equally dazzling laser light show that would be safer for animals, veterans, and anyone else sensitive to loud noises or smoke. In return, the group is offering to provide free vegan hot dogs for the Independence Day festivities.

Credit: PETA

“Fireworks sound like an all-out war to animals, many of whom are injured and even killed each year as they try to escape the noise and the rancid smell of toxic smoke,” says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. “PETA urges the Melaleuca Freedom Celebration to join the many cities now offering breathtaking laser light shows that don’t literally scare animals to death.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way”—points out that Every Animal Is Someone and offers free Empathy Kits for people who need a lesson in kindness. For more information, please visit or follow the group on X, Facebook, or Instagram.

PETA’s letter to VanderSloot follows.

May 29, 2024

Frank L. VanderSloot

Executive Chair

Melaleuca Inc.

Dear Mr. VanderSloot:

I’m writing on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals—PETA entities have more than 9 million members and supporters globally, including thousands across Idaho—ahead of this year’s Melaleuca Freedom Celebration, with a request: Would you please cancel the fireworks this year for the sake of people sensitive to loud noises, including veterans of wars and animals who panic and flee from their homes and their young and switch to a viable alternative that everyone could enjoy, like a laser light show or a stargazing party? Fireworks also release sulfur dioxide and nitric oxide, which have a detrimental impact on air quality. If you agree to do so, we’ll send free vegan hot dogs and buns for everyone to enjoy during the celebration.

Traditional fireworks sound like an all-out war to dogs and cats—and their use has devastating consequences. More dogs run away on the Fourth of July than on any other date, and animal shelters report an increase in lost dogs and cats following fireworks displays. Terrified dogs often climb, break, or dig their way out of wherever they are as they frantically try to escape the chaos, resulting in increased intake at animal shelters, which further strains community resources. Many dogs arrive with bloody paws or broken bones, and some are never reunited with their families. Some don’t even make it to shelters—they’re hit by cars or strangled when their collars become caught on fences.

Fireworks also produce smoke and dust laden with toxic particles that are harmful to the respiratory systems of humans and other animals and cause fear, stress, and anxiety in sensitive wildlife, companion animals, children, the elderly, and veterans—the very people the celebration is supposed to be honoring—with post-traumatic stress disorder, which can be triggered by the fireworks’ sights, sounds, or odors. Startled birds have abandoned their nests and crashed into homes, windows, or each other. In one instance, more than 5,000 dead or dying red-winged blackbirds fell from the sky during a fireworks display in Beebe, Arkansas. Scientists discovered that in reaction to fireworks shows, waterfowl fly en masse to dangerously high altitudes and stay aloft for as long as 45 minutes, leaving them exhausted and vulnerable.

The Melaleuca Freedom Celebration already offers so much. Please consider canceling the fireworks display and instead host a laser show—which is safer, produces virtually no air pollution, and is an increasingly popular option. If you do so, you’ll be in good company—many cities today, including Henrico County, Virginia, and Wilsonville, Oregon, will feature quieter, visually stunning laser light shows on July Fourth. Thanks for your consideration. We look forward to hearing from you.

Very truly yours,

Ingrid Newkirk


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