An animal lover and Lincolnshire resident launched a petition for the government to review firework rules in order to better protect animals from injury and distress, which has now been signed by over 969,000 people, and rising.
Julie Doorne lives in a small village in south west Lincolnshire with her family, four dogs, three cats, and the same number of horses and sheep. She has been campaigning for change in firework law for over seven years as she believes the existing legislation is “not fit for purpose and is unenforceable” – see the campaign’s website here.
She doesn’t want to ban fireworks completely, but feels it isn’t fair that people “can cause such anxiety and distress in the name of fun”.
She wants the government to consider restricting private use of fireworks to traditional dates such as November 5 and New Year’s Eve, reduce the maximum permitted decibels for private use, and to require all public firework displays to be licensed.
Julie’s firework campaign first started when a mare belonging to a friend aborted her foal as she had been scared by fireworks. Julie thought she would just help with one petition and it snowballed.
People from all over the country started messaging Julie and telling her their stories. The following year she started her own petition with help from friends and managed to get over 100,000 signatures and a government debate was scheduled.
Since then, her campaign called ‘The Firework Campaign’ has either written or backed six petitions, five of which have caused government debates – they can all be viewed here. The sixth was too close to the previous one so the government refused to debate it, Julie said.
Julie told The Lincolnite she wants her recent petition to reach a million signatures before she delivers this one to Number 10 Downing Street – view the petition and add your signature here.
Julie said: “Until the incident involving the aborted foal, I didn’t particularly have a problem with fireworks, but since I started campaigning I have been contacted by thousands of people who are badly affected. The destruction that fireworks cause to family life is horrific.
“It’s not just animals. This New Year’s Eve was actually quite bad. In my village there has been three major incidents of fireworks. A wedding at a neighbours house where the groom happened to be a pyrotechnician was pretty horrific.
“We were given no notice. The horses were running blindly around the fields. Thankfully I have no barbed wire as they ran through the electric fencing, luckily with no injuries.
“A new, very close neighbour was unaware of the issues fireworks caused to dogs, but once we explained the distress he understood. Then last year, despite me almost begging my immediate neighbour next door, he still used fireworks within 25 metres of my stables.
“The horses were extremely stressed, they were virtually running around in the stable, sweating and shaking. Despite me telling him he was causing them extreme distress, he carried on and laughed whilst wishing me Happy New Year. This is what we are up against. Some people understand, others don’t even want to try.”
Julie said that she is delighted with the latest change.org petition. Her government petitions usually get around 100,000 signatures, but are only online for six moths.
She said she is convinced that she hasn’t reached everyone who would like to see a change in the law and has vowed to take the petition to No 10 Downing Street when it reaches a million signatures.
She said: “We are ever hopeful that the government will eventually listen to the people. It seems unfair that the ‘fun’ for some is allowed to cause such distress to others.
“It isn’t only animals. People with some medical conditions are also greatly affected. Imagine your grandmother has dementia and fireworks started one night in February. She doesn’t know it’s not an air raid! She’s outside her house crying banging on next door to help her find her blackout curtains, she’s frightened the street will be blown up. We can never know that feeling.
“Imagine you are deaf. Take your hearing aid out from October to March and hope that’s an end to it. Don’t worry if you can’t hear what’s happening in your family. Isolate yourself in silence, because your head almost explodes with close firework noise.
“Imagine you have fibromyalgia, autism, PTSD… the list goes on. People need to know when fireworks are going to be used so they can take action to safeguard themselves and their animals.
“Be that building a den for your dog, arranging livestock to keep them safe or finding distraction techniques for small children. We know of ex-service personnel who cannot sleep in the same bed as their spouse due to flashbacks.”
She added that every year the RSPCA receives hundreds of calls about the “terrible effect fireworks are having on animals – not just dogs and cats, but other pets, livestock and wildlife”.
She said: “There are also frequent reports of horses harming themselves by crashing into stable doors and over fences. These poor animals don’t understand what is causing the loud bangs and bright flashes.”