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Fireworks on sale, caution encouraged

Chris Eichbaum said the welfare of his dog Millie was why he began a petition to ban the private sale of fireworks. PHOTO/ALEYNA MARTINEZ

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Masterton resident Chris Eichbaum says every time Guy Fawkes Day comes around, his household has to sedate their 11-year old-dog Millie.

From yesterday, fireworks can be bought around New Zealand in the leadup to the event on November 5.

“Some animals just become absolutely terrified,” Eichbaum said.

“She shakes, trembles, pants, and she tries to find a place away from the fireworks.”

Eichbaum started a petition in 2018 to ban the private sale of fireworks which reached the select committee at Parliament.

With 29,000 signatures in support, he said it was disappointing when the government chose not to go through with the ban in August.

“My real fear is it’s going to take something really nasty, and we don’t want that to happen.”

Eichbaum said the problem was not just one day when fireworks went off.

Fireworks go off and affect animals throughout the year because people can stockpile for four days leading up to Guy Fawkes Day, he said.

“If you live in this community as I do, you’ll know that [fireworks] go off randomly through the year,” he said.

Eichbaum said the petition was never about being the “fun police” and his petition still encouraged the use of fireworks by councils for events such as Matariki or Diwali.

“I actually enjoy looking at the colour of a brilliant fireworks display, and I would love to go to the showgrounds for a community event by authorised people who know what they’re doing.”

All three Wairarapa councils said they did not plan events for Guy Fawkes Day this year. South Wairarapa District Council communications manager Amy Wharram said Clause 3 of the Public Places Bylaw stated that “unless a person has prior approval of council, no person shall set off fireworks or explosive in a public place or so near to a public place that it does or is likely to cause a nuisance”.

Rick Mead, manager of environmental services at SWDC said, “we of course want people to enjoy themselves this fireworks season, but above all to be safe and considerate of fellow residents”.

“Rural areas, such as empty paddocks, are often chosen as a safe place to set off fireworks, however, we urge people to be aware of any animals that might be grazing in the local area.”

Chief Veterinary Officer of the New Zealand Veterinary Association Helen Beattie said, “the NZVA supports a ban on the private sale of fireworks because it will improve the welfare of animals who find fireworks stressful”.

“We are disappointed the government recently decided not to ban the private sale of fireworks.”

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