Grieving horse owner calls for restriction on fireworks
A heartbroken Gisborne horse owner wants fireworks limited to one night of the year when people expect it, and can make arrangements for the safety of their pets.
Rachel Hales' horse Fire was so badly injured after being spooked by fireworks on Saturday night that he had to be put down.
The 15-year-old thoroughbred horse, who she described as “her best friend in the world”, put his back out and had a twisted gut from either bucking, falling or rolling over.
Ms Hales said she made sure on Thursday night (November 5) — when Guy Fawkes is officially celebrated — to give her horse an extra feed and sat with him to keep him calm.
He was a horse who stressed but got through the night, she said.
But two nights later neighbours on Maclaurin Road, where her horse grazes, let off fireworks again . . . and this time she wasn't expecting it.
“If you're going to do fireworks, do it that night (Guy Fawkes) so we can be prepared. Don't do it two nights later because I wasn't prepared and nor was he.”
On Sunday night, she lay sobbing next to her dead horse when she heard the neighbours letting off fireworks again.
“I'm pissed off because I was organised on Guy Fawkes night . . . and he died two nights later.”
She was given permission from neighbours to bury Fire.
Ms Hales has been backed up by Stacie Swanson on Valley Road, “where everything echoes”.
“One night we can put up with, plan for and do what we need to do for our children and animals,”said Ms Swanson.
“But it is unrealistic to have two nights in a row, or more, of fireworks.”
Ms Swanson said neighbours on the hill behind her let off fireworks on Friday and Saturday night.
“We were given no warning.”
Her children did not get to sleep until after 11pm, she was up in the middle of the night to move her frightened horses and they had to be up early at the weekend for a scheduled event.
“We had a very long, agitated weekend.”
There have also been several Facebook group posts from owners of cats and dogs lost after being scared by fireworks.
Eastland Veterinary Services practice manager Natalie Smith said unfortunately fireworks can continue for a two to three week period after Guy Fawkes night.
“We do get lots of enquiries from concerned pet owners to buy treatments for their anxious pets.
“It is a real issue for some of them. But we are limited particularly with what we can do for older animals, as any type of sedative has a higher risk for older animals, and they are the ones that suffer the most.”
SPCA manager Lindy Magee said they apply as much pressure as they can, advocate for animals and their owners, and go to the NZ Parliamentary committee.
“Locally we have had no reports or instances but our hearts go out to Rachel and we really wish there was something we could have done for Rachel and her lovely horse.”
Mrs Magee wanted to reiterate that neighbours should be considerate of each other, and let each other know when they would be letting off fireworks.
“Obviously it was an absolute tragedy what happened to Rachel's horse, but it can be avoided by looking after our own community and having consideration and empathy for your neighbour's animals.”