ST. GEORGE – It’s that time of year again when fireworks welcome in the New Year and furry friends can easily become frightened by the sights and sounds overhead.
And while this time of year tends to lack the restrictions that come with the summer season, there are nonetheless a few things to still keep in mind while enjoying a pyrotechnic welcome to 2017.
In addition to some general guidelines, some consideration to pets needs to be given as our four-legged companions tend to react to the thunderous boom of fireworks as if it were the start of the apocalypse.
A quick fireworks guide
Under Utah law, fireworks can be shot off from Dec. 29-31. The general time allowed for setting off fireworks is 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Dec. 29 and 30, and 11 a.m. on Dec. 31 to 1 a.m. Jan. 1.
Children under 16 are not to handle or light fireworks, and adults mixing fireworks while impaired by alcohol or drugs is not only stupid, it’s illegal.
Fireworks that are not allowed under state law include: fire crackers, M-80’s, cherry bombs, bottle rockets, Roman candles, single or reloadable mortars and ground salutes. These and similar items that contain 500 grams of pyrotechnic material are also a no-no.
Using illegal fireworks in Utah could result in a class B misdemeanor under state law, as well as a possible violation of municipal or county ordinances if applicable. A class B misdemeanor can come with a fine of up to $1,000.
Should fireworks cause a fire, individuals involved could be subject to paying for the damage that results.
Other safety precautions to consider:
- Keeping a bucket of water or hose nearby.
- Wearing safety glasses.
- Keeping people who aren’t lighting fireworks a safe distance away.
- Keeping unused fireworks out of the general area where you are lighting fireworks.
- It is also recommended to not light fireworks if it’s windy.
- Do not point fireworks in the direction of people or animals. (If you don’t understand why this is a bad idea, please refrain from fireworks use from this point onward.)
For those who want to enjoy a massive fireworks display in southwest Utah, Washington City will be blasting off fireworks for New Year’s Eve. Leading up to the fireworks show will be a New Year’s Eve masquerade party at the Washington City Community Center from 6 p.m. to 12 a.m, featuring DJ Lex and DL Spinz.
Additional details can be found on the event’s Facebook page.
Preventing Fido’s pyrotechnic panic
Loud bangs and booms will commonly send a cat into hiding while a dog will do its best to escape the noises altogether. Fido will start running and keep running. A dog in St. George could end up in Washington or Santa Clara. These pets can get lost and, ultimately, end up in the custody of area animal shelters. Some dogs may not be so lucky due to potentially being injured or killed in traffic.
Following the 2016 Independence Day weekend, over 20 pets were picked up in St. George alone, according to a Facebook post from the St. George Animal Shelter. While at least half of those lost pets were reunited with owners by July 8, the shelter reported that well over 20 reports of missing pets had come its way during that time.
Tips for pet owners
As a way to help pets cope with the coming onslaught of fireworks, Best Friends Animal Society posted a list of tips on its website suggesting ways to help pets stay home, safe and comfortable:
- Bring all pets indoors whenever neighborhood fireworks displays are likely. Secure dogs in a quiet room, close curtains and play music or turn on the television to drown out the frightening sounds.
- Keep pets away from lit fireworks at all times, including in your own yard or street, as some will chase after the bright moving objects and are at risk to be burned or blinded in the process.
- Ensure that pets are microchipped and wear current identification tags, just in case they accidentally get loose.
- If your pet does go missing over the holiday, check immediately and often with local animal shelters. Go to the shelter in person to identify your pet, rather than calling or emailing, as staff may not be able to respond in a timely enough fashion.
Additional suggestions were also shared by The Utah Animal Advocacy Foundation:
- If your dog is already an anxious sort, consult with a veterinarian about the possibility of using a mild sedative on the pooch to help it stay calm.
- Take the dog out for a walk so it can exit the contents of its bowels outside instead of inside when the fireworks-triggered mayhem starts.
- Consider staying home with the dog to help soothe its potentially frazzled nerves and make sure it remains safe.
- Don’t take your dog to a crowded fireworks fest – it just doesn’t seem like a good idea.
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