Governor Urged to Veto Scary Fireworks Law

PETA Says Overturning Ban on World War III–Style ‘Bombs Bursting in Air’ Would Harm Wildlife, Dogs, and Veterans With PTSD

For Immediate Release:
March 13, 2020

Megan Wiltsie 202-483-7382

Tallahassee, Fla.

Because Senate Bill 140—which would allow Floridians to buy fireworks legally to use on July 4, December 31, and January 1, overturning an earlier ban—would endanger the state’s most vulnerable residents of many species, PETA has sent a letter urging Gov. Ron DeSantis to veto the bill.

PETA points out that people who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder can experience fear and panic at the sounds of exploding fireworks and that after fireworks displays, animal shelters see a spike in the number of lost dogs, who have been known to jump fences and even break glass doors in their efforts to escape from the terrifying noise. For example, it took more than a day for a family to find their dog Ruddy, who had hid in the crawlspace under his Orlando home after he was spooked by New Year’s Eve fireworks this year. The blasts also cause wildlife to run onto roads and into buildings or abandon their nests.

Until now, Floridians have only been allowed to buy fireworks if they claim to be using them to scare birds away from farms and fisheries—a loophole that PETA is also asking Gov. DeSantis to eliminate, as more humane solutions exist.

“To the most vulnerable among us, fireworks sound exactly like ‘bombs bursting in air,’ and it can be terrifying,” says PETA President Ingrid Newkirk. “PETA’s thousands of Florida members and supporters are asking Gov. DeSantis to tighten fireworks regulations, starting with a veto of this irresponsible bill.”

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 quiet 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.

For more information, please visit I can be reached at 202-483-7382, extension 2175, or [email protected] if you have any questions.

PETA’s letter to DeSantis follows.

March 13, 2020

The Honorable Ron DeSantis

Governor of Florida

Dear Gov. DeSantis,

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 Florida, in response to Senate Bill 140, which would allow Floridians to buy fireworks to use on three days of the year. We strongly urge you not to sign this bill into law.

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. The loud noises can also deter sea turtles from nesting on the beach.

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. Fireworks are also known to create trash that is hard to remove and is frequently eaten by sea animals.

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.

We hope you’ll keep the current restrictions in place and perhaps consider eliminating existing loopholes that allow residents to buy fireworks to scare birds away when more humane and sensible options exist to do just that. Thank you for your time and consideration. We look forward to hearing from you.

Very truly yours,

Ingrid E. Newkirk


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