Watch out for stressed pets on fireworks night

Glynis McBean, from the Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home, with a tiny kitten
Glynis McBean, from the Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home, with a tiny kitten
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When it comes to fireworks we like them as big and loud as possible.

Anyone in any doubt about that need only look to Oban where locals were last year thrilled to see 60 minutes-worth of pyrotechnics explode in a 60-second blaze of glory after a technical glitch.

Here in Edinburgh we know a thing or two about fireworks, and this weekend the skies over the Capital will be lit up by thousands of rockets, mines and starbursts thanks to a host of organised and amateur displays.

While we might enjoy the spectacle of the bangs and flashes however, there are plenty of 
local residents who don’t just find them objectionable, but downright terrifying.

Our four-legged friends often require a little bit more tender loving care over Bonfire Night to sooth their jangling nerves .

For the average pet owner this will mean taking care of one or two animals – but for some dedicated animal lovers it means a lot more work.

At the Edinburgh Cat and Dog Home they are used to the 
disturbances that Bonfire Night can bring.

The location of the home on an industrial estate in Portobello means that when it comes to big organised displays they are relatively removed from the worst of the explosions – although that doesn’t stop all of the problems.

“Our location is pretty good, as we’re away from the worst of it,” says general manager Dave 
Ewing.

“There are often a few problems with people setting off fireworks on the beach just next to the centre. It doesn’t happen every year but when it does, because it’s so close it can really startle the animals. We generally just go out and ask people to move up the beach a little, and once they realise what the problem is they can be quite sympathetic.”

Even without close-quarters combat however some of the more jittery residents still find it all a bit too much.

“It’s the dogs generally that find it quite difficult, more-so than the cats. We try to pick out those animals that are likely to get spooked by the fireworks, and we separate them from the rest of the animals. Apart from anything else it means if we do need to calm them down then we won’t have to disturb and entire group.

“We also black out the windows at night to make sure there’s no flashing lights.Of course some animals are still going to get scared, so we’re on hand all night just in case.”

And for staff at the centre, the problems of Bonfire Night don’t end after November 5.

“One of the biggest problems for us is that we always get a lot of frightened animals coming in at this time of year, and that will go on for a few days after Bonfire Night,” says Mr Ewing. “It tends to be cats or dogs that have been startled by the loud bangs of a firework display and have then run off. They are brought in by the police sometimes or the council, and because they’ve been out alone and there will have been more fireworks 
going off they can be really frightened, so we have to isolate them and give them time to calm down.

“It also means we get a lot of frantic owners coming in looking for their pets of course. My biggest bit of advice to people would be not to walk their dogs on Bonfire Night – and if you do, make sure it stays on the lead.”

At Edinburgh Zoo it’s not so much cats and dogs as big cats and wild hunting dogs – although when it comes to furry friends being frightened by fireworks, it’s the koalas that are the real problem. Fireworks originated in China, although for Giant Pandas Tian Tian and Yang Guang it’s still likely to be something of a novelty as they were raised at the remote Giant Panda Conservation and Research Centre in Sichuan Province. Of course thanks to a £300,00 enclosure that is designed to keep them calm despite large noisy crowds the pair are unlikely to be 
undisturbed by the displays.

Darren McGarry, head of animals at Edinburgh Zoo, said they had to make preparations ahead of Bonfire Night to 
ensure their animals were as comfortable as possible.

“Fireworks night is a problem for domestic animals, and this is also true for animals at Edinburgh Zoo,” he said. “In the animal collection we have some species that are a little more sensitive to noise than others; such as our Malayan 
tapirs and koalas. Due to this, we take the decision to 
secure these animals overnight in their indoor areas.

“We take every precaution possible to ensure that our animals are caused as little distress or upset as possible. “We also have staff onsite 24/7, so there is always someone on hand to do regular checks on the animals and monitor them throughout the evening.”

So if your pampered pooch gets little overexcited on Guy Fawkes Night, spare a thought for those who have more than one animal to look after.