PETA asks Vancouver mayor to ban fireworks on Halloween

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Every year to celebrate Halloween, residents of Vancouver, and surrounding communities, set off fireworks. It’s a uniquely Vancouver tradition, and one that has been hotly debated–and regulated–over the years.

Now People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)’s president, Ingrid Newkirk, has submitted a letter to Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and the city council, asking that they ban fireworks for Halloween usage.

Fireworks/Shutterstock

Citing the trauma experienced by many pets, as well as the discomfort of veterans and other sufferers of PTSD, PETA is throwing their support behind a 2017 petition launched in Vancouver demanding the same.

The change.org petition, which was intended for submission at the end of 2017, remains active, and has garnered over 2,500 signatures to date.

“The solution to the danger and disruption from consumer fireworks is to ban the sale, possession, and use of fireworks in the City of Vancouver. Many other Metro Vancouver municipalities ban the sale and use of fireworks – why must City of Vancouver residents suffer?” reads the petition, which also cites examples of fireworks-related incidents such as a house burning down, a woman losing an eye, and the dog who was spooked by fireworks and was killed after running onto the SkyTrain tracks.

PETA’s letter to the City of Vancouver also uses the story of the dog, Maggie, as “one of far too many examples” about the dangers of fireworks and pets.

“As you may know, animal shelters and wildlife rescues report a large increase in
the number of animals they receive following fireworks displays. Often, dogs
panic as they try to escape from the loud noise and have been known to jump
through glass windows or over fences and end up getting lost, seriously hurt, or
killed,” writes Newkirk.

Vancouver residents are not permitted to set off fireworks any other time during the year. Halloween remains a longstanding tradition of amateur fireworks usage, with residents putting on small displays in their yard, or even simply setting a few off in the street during trick-or-treating time.

Image courtesy PETA

PETA includes in their letter a link to posters they are asking the City to use to promote the concept of pets being terrorized by fireworks.

Here is the letter from PETA to Robertson in full:

October 9, 2018

The Honorable Gregor Robertson, Mayor of Vancouver
Members of the Vancouver City Council

Via e-mail: MayorAndCouncil@vancouver.ca

Dear Mayor Robertson and Council Members,

I’m writing on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and our
more than 6.5 million members and supporters worldwide, including thousands
across Canada, in response to a petition that was brought to our attention asking
that you ban the sale and use of consumer fireworks during the week of
Halloween. We commend you for taking steps to mitigate the effects of fireworks
by requiring a permit and limiting their use to one day a year, but we also urge
you to reconsider a year-round ban so that Vancouver’s noise-sensitive wildlife,
domestic animals, children, veterans, and elderly people can enjoy a quieter, less
stressful Halloween celebration.

As you may know, animal shelters and wildlife rescues report a large increase in
the number of animals they receive following fireworks displays. Often, dogs
panic as they try to escape from the loud noise and have been known to jump
through glass windows or over fences and end up getting lost, seriously hurt, or
killed. (The well-known story of Vancouver’s own Maggie, who was spooked by
a firecracker and fled onto SkyTrain tracks, is just one of far too many
examples).

This panic is also experienced by wild animals, such as deer and coyotes, who
flee onto roads, where they may be killed and endanger drivers. The loud blasts
cause birds to fly into chimneys and houses—and even to abandon their nests and
young. In one instance, more than 5,000 dead or dying red-winged blackbirds fell
from the sky after a fireworks display in Arkansas. The stress caused by

fireworks is not limited to animals: Veterans and others suffering from post-
traumatic stress disorder are sensitive to and can be deeply disturbed by the noise of the explosives.

While you take this information into consideration, please allow us to send you
some complimentary posters to place around the city to remind residents that
fireworks frighten animals and encourage them to celebrate without fireworks for
the sake of all Vancouver’s denizens.

Thank you for your consideration.
Very truly yours,
Ingrid E. Newkirk
President

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Lindsay is the Managing Editor of Vancouver Is Awesome. A fifth generation Vancouverite, she was previously the Food Editor of Daily Hive, Senior Editor of Vancity Buzz, and Editor-in-Chief of LAist.com. Lindsay grew up in Vancouver and Toronto, then spent over 20 years in Los Angeles, where ahe earned her Masters in English, attended culinary school, and was an English professor. Lindsay's first published piece was December 1980 in The Province; it was her letter to Santa. E-mail: lindsay@vancouverisawesome.com