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By SHELLEY TOPP

The annual fireworks season, culminating in Guy Fawkes on Tuesday night, November 5 is always busy for the SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals).

The SPCA does not support the private sale and use of fireworks and has long called for a ban on selling them to the public because of the distress and harm they can cause to animals and people.

Every year in New Zealand the SPCA receives many calls relating to fireworks, including animal injuries, frightened animals, missing pets and, occasionally, abuse of animals.

This time of year can be highly distressing for animals, SPCA senior communications communicator Sarah Hitchings says.

“People without pets must be aware of the stress their use of fireworks can cause others in their neighbourhood and act considerately, she says.

“Those people planning to set off fireworks in their home gardens should consider speaking to their neighbours, or leaving a note in their letterbox, so that those with pets and livestock can prepare accordingly.”

SPCA’s tips for keeping animals safe during fireworks season.

Never let fireworks off close to animals. Stay home with your pet they will be less stressed with someone they trust close by.

Keep pets indoors they wont see the flashes and the bangs will be muffled. Close doors and windows and draw the curtains. Turn up the volume on your radio or television to help drown out loud bangs with familiar sounds.

Make sure that your cat or dog has somewhere comforting to hide such as an igloo, box, crate or somewhere they feel safe to retreat to.

Try a compression wrap for dogs, like a thunder shirt. Exercise your dog early in the day to avoid being out during dusk when fireworks could be set off.

Both cats and dogs should be microchipped and have a collar and identification tag with your contact details on it. If your pet panics and runs away, it will help to reunite you with your pet.

Try to behave in a calm and reassuring manner. Take special care of elderly or nervous pets, but try not to cuddle your pet too much as this may encourage anxious behaviour.

Never punish your pets when they are scared. This will only make their fear and stress levels worse.