INDIA—With Diwali just around the corner, and spirits running high, it’s worth remembering that a festival that centers on spreading happiness should encompass the needs of our furry friends, too. In addition to expressing its support for COVID-19 precautions as suggested by the government of India, Humane Society International/India is urging everyone to celebrate a noise-free and animal-friendly Diwali.
Every year, thousands of animals and birds are left frightened, injured, and lost because of an increase in air and noise pollution associated with the holiday. Since they have a far more acute sense of hearing than us; the noise of firecrackers has a terrifying effect on animals. In addition to this, the accompanying light and smoke emitted by firecrackers adversely affects their health and well-being. As a result, animal shelters witness a tremendous increase in runaway and lost pets, who are scared, anxious, nervous, and often burned or injured.
Alokparna Sengupta, managing director of HSI/ India said, “Diwali is an exciting time for people but can also lead to extreme stress and discomfort for pets and street animals. We urge everyone to celebrate the festival of lights as it is meant to be celebrated – with lamps, lights, sweets and delicious savouries, and not with loud firecrackers. This year, more than ever, we must consider the safety and wellness of others including the old, the young and the animals. We also strongly urge citizens to follow COVID-19 precautions and guidelines issued by the government.”
For those wondering how to ensure that animals have a safe and happy Diwali, HSI/India has some ‘sound’ advice in the form of these simple tips:
- Keep pets indoors and in a familiar room. Pets have a heightened sense of hearing, so jolts and loud noises cause many animals to flee in search of a safe haven. Leave calming music or the television on to comfort them, if possible.
- Keep all doors and windows closed and draw the curtains to reduce noise. Supply pets with enough food and water and ensure someone can stay at home to care for them.
- Urge friends and neighbors to avoid igniting loud firecrackers and instead use firecrackers that emit less smoke and do not create so much noise.
- Store fireworks safely in a closed box, somewhere cool and dry, and out of reach of pets. Do not keep fireworks containers under stairs or exposed in passages or hallways.
- Decorate with lights, lamps and divas that are friendlier to the environment and animals (i.e., ones that give off less smoke, smell and noise.)
- Refrain from setting firecrackers off near an animal shelter or zoo. Loud explosions can cause panic and fear, and pollution from burning firecrackers is harmful to animals’ health.
- Take dogs for a walk during the daytime before the celebrations begin. Never walk them near where others are lighting firecrackers.
- Consult a veterinarian if your pets are prone to acute anxiety or distress from loud noises and medicate with anti-anxiety or calmative agents if necessary, and only through a veterinary prescription. Check their availability during Diwali, ahead of time in case of an emergency.
- Ensure pets are wearing collars and identification tags with current contact information. All pets, even those kept indoors, should always wear collars with identification tags.
- If you feed street animals around your neighbourhood, make sure they are wearing tags labelled with their names and your phone numbers. Provide them shelter in an area where they may be safe from the firecrackers and the noise.
- Make a first-aid kit in preparation for helping injured animals. Have a bucket full of water handy for an emergency and to place used sparklers inside.
- Keep contact information for local municipal corporations and surrounding shelters handy and approach them immediately in case of lost pets. If you find lost pets, either take them to the address on the tag or a local animal shelter.
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