Personal Fireworks Ban Wins PETA Praise—and Prompts a Push to Nix Public Displays, Too

For Immediate Release:
March 4, 2022

Megan Wiltsie 202-483-7382

Portland, Ore.

The Portland City Council just voted unanimously to ban the use and sale of personal fireworks, citing the negative effect on companion animals and the increasing risk of wildfires, so today, PETA sent Mayor Ted Wheeler and council members delicious dog-shaped vegan chocolates as thanks for the action, which will protect all Portlanders, including dogs who panic as a result of the ear-splitting blasts. PETA also included a request: Ban public fireworks shows as well.

The group points out that during fireworks, dogs have been known to frantically try to escape the chaos by climbing, breaking, or digging their way out of wherever they are, often ending up at animal shelters with bloody paws and broken bones. On average, local animal shelters experience a reported 25% increase in dogs and cats over the Fourth of July holiday, an unknown number of whom had bolted in distress, never to be reunited with their guardians.

“Portland did the right thing in stamping out dangerous personal fireworks that can cause animals to flee in fear, but it could earn three cheers by nixing public spectacles, too,” says PETA President Ingrid Newkirk. “Terrified animals don’t distinguish between the two, and PETA is encouraging city officials not to, either.”

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 or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

PETA’s letter to Wheeler follows.

March 4, 2022

The Honorable Ted Wheeler

Mayor of Portland

Dear Mayor Wheeler:

I’m writing on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals U.S.—PETA entities have more than 9 million members and supporters globally, and PETA U.S. is the largest animal rights organization in the world—to thank you and the city council for banning the use and sale of personal fireworks. Will you please extend this ban to public fireworks displays to protect all residents of Portland, including humans, companion animals, and wildlife?

Fireworks are like bombs to dogs, who may frantically try to escape the chaos by climbing or digging their way out of wherever they are, resulting in increased intake at animal shelters, which maxes out shelter capacity and further strains community resources. Those who arrive at shelters often have bloody paws and broken bones and are never reunited with their families. Others are doomed to a worse fate—hit by cars or strangled when their collars are caught on fences.

Fireworks produce plumes of smoke laden with particles that are harmful to the respiratory systems of humans and other animals, exacerbating asthma and other respiratory problems. Employees have been seriously injured in fireworks accidents during professional shows, and veterans and others suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder can be deeply disturbed by the noise of the explosives and the smell of the gunpowder. Birds caught in or near fireworks displays choke on the toxic residue. The California Coastal Commission banned the town of Gualala’s display when, following a 2006 show, seabirds fled their nests, leaving their chicks vulnerable to predators. Most birds can’t 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.

To thank you for your ban on backyard fireworks, we’ll be sending you some delicious vegan dog-shaped chocolates. We hope you’ll consider eliminating public fireworks displays to allow all vulnerable individuals to celebrate holidays without harm or fear. Thank you for your consideration of this important matter. We look forward to hearing from you.

Very truly yours,

Ingrid Newkirk


cc:       Jo Ann Hardesty, Portland City Commissioner

Carmen Rubio, Portland City Commissioner

Mingus Mapps, Portland City Commissioner

Dan Ryan, Portland City Commissioner

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