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Guide Dogs Are Being Deafened By Fireworks

Editor's Note: This article is reprinted from the Laois Nationalist, Republic of Ireland, October 21, 2005.

Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind (IGDB) have just launched their Fireworks Awareness Campaign to highlight the problems caused to guide dogs and their owners at this time of year.

IGDB aims, through its awareness campaign, to encourage people to show consideration to guide dogs and their owners and not use illegal fireworks and bangers in built-up areas.

The use of illegal fireworks has grown significantly in recent years. The usage of fireworks and bangers around the country starts as early as August and can continue for over three months.

Annoying for many people, illegal fireworks can be particularly stressful for guide dogs and animals in general, but also people especially vulnerable during this period--senior citizens, citizens with disability or recovering from illness, and families with young children--due to the repeated and sudden loud noise.

In the case of a guide dog that is affected, it can mean separation from their owner, having to be retrained, or in a small number of cases, withdrawn from working altogether.

Dogs have an incredible hearing ability and can detect sounds that are to faint for the human ear. Fear grows with increased exposure to loud noises, and dogs seldom get used to them, nor do they learn that they will come to no harm.

As the season approaches again, IGDB recommends a number of measures that pet owners can take to minimize the trauma that Halloween festivities can cause to their pets. These include:

Confine pets to the general living areas, rather than quieter areas, such as hallways, and leave the radio and TV on to drown out some of the external noises.

Plenty of exercise before dark will minimize the exposure and tire the dog so that they will be more relaxed and more likely to sleep through the evening, and owners are advised to refrain from fussing over a nervous dog as this only exacerbates the situation.

If a dog is particularly stressed, it is recommended using a natural remedy, such as Bach Flower Remedies or Serene-UM, a natural food supplement which is widely available from vets and pharmacies.