Kiwanis Club Urged to Keep July Fourth Fireworks-Free

PETA Calls For a Celebration That Won’t Disturb Wildlife, Companion Animals, or Veterans With PTSD

For Immediate Release:
April 13, 2020

Moira Colley 202-483-7382

Tempe, Ariz.

This morning, PETA sent a letter commending the Kiwanis Club of Tempe for canceling the July 4th Tempe Town Lake Festival out of concern for human safety amid the COVID-19 pandemic—and detailing all the reasons why any alternative celebration should be free of fireworks.

PETA points out that people who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder can be deeply distressed by 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 loud noises. The blasts also cause wildlife to flee onto roads and into buildings or abandon their nests.

“To the vulnerable among us, fireworks sound just like ‘bombs bursting in air’ and that can be terrifying,” says PETA President Ingrid Newkirk. “PETA is urging the Kiwanis Club to celebrate Independence Day in a way that’s sensitive to animals and the global pandemic, such as with a house-decorating contest.”

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’s letter to Linda Spears, president of the Kiwanis Club of Tempe, follows.

April 13, 2020

Linda Spears

President of the Board of Directors
Kiwanis Club of Tempe

Dear Ms. Spears,

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 Arizona, in response to the recent announcement that planning for the July 4th Tempe Town Lake Festival has been suspended and that there will be no fireworks at Town Lake this year. We commend you for canceling the event out of concern for human safety and strongly urge you to leave fireworks out of your plans for any alternative events in order to protect all of Tempe’s residents. Please allow me to explain.

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

We hope you’ll consider other celebratory events, such as a house-decorating contest, and skip fireworks displays in future celebrations. Thank you for your time and consideration. We look forward to hearing from you.

Very truly yours,

Ingrid E. Newkirk


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