New Welfare Report Supporting Ban on Fireworks

27 May 2024

A new report, published and released by Redwings Horse Sanctuary says the Animal Welfare Act does not offer recourse or protection for pets or livestock caused to suffer because of firework displays, and the assertion by Ministers that it does is an ‘illusion’.

Reference to the Animal Welfare Act is made routinely by DEFRA representatives in response to parliamentary questions on the issue of fireworks and animal welfare. Yet, to date, there does not appear to be any example of a case file being taken forward to use the Act to hold someone to account in relation to suffering being inadvertently caused to an animal by fireworks being let off close to them.

According the The British Horse Society, 1,468 incidents involving horses and fireworks were recorded between November 2010 and 19 March 2024 (an average of more than 100 a year). These include 49 horse fatalities, 317 horse injuries and 84 people injured during a situation involving horses and fireworks. Incidents are known to be significantly underreported, meaning the true figure will be much higher.

Government ministers consistently claim that the Animal Welfare Act (the main animal welfare law in England and Wales) can be used when fireworks have caused the injury or death of an animal. Redwings brought together a panel of experts to examine the claim, and concluded unanimously that the Act can’t be used in this way, and that only new and better regulation will help protect animals from the risks that fireworks present.

“The Animal Welfare Act, while doing a fantastic job of enabling those who neglect or abuse animals to be brought to account, is not designed to apply in situations where someone letting off fireworks inadvertently causes death, injury, illness or trauma to an animal.”

This comes as the battle against fireworks receives a further blow last week due to the recently called general election. A recent petition to ban the sale of fireworks to the general public was due to be debated on 24th June 2024 having received over 50,000 signatures in support. Unfortunately as there will now be an election on 4 July 2024, this means that the debate on the petition can no longer go aged. after the election, the new House of Commons will appoint new committees. It will then be up to the new Petitions Committee to decide if they wish to schedule a new debate following this petition.

You can read the report and its recommendations here

Anyone concerned about the impact of fireworks on animals is being encouraged to share the report with their own MP and ask that they support calls for a comprehensive review of current fireworks regulations.

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