Thousands demand firework ban after ‘spooked’ dog drowns at sea

Petiton asks Government to ‘ban the sale of fireworks to the public and only approve organised displays’

May Bulman
Saturday 05 November 2016 13:14
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Shearer, a nine-year-old collie, was found swept up at sea after being spooked by fireworks set off on a beach
Shearer, a nine-year-old collie, was found swept up at sea after being spooked by fireworks set off on a beach

Thousands of people have signed a petition calling for a ban on the sale of fireworks in the UK after a dog who ran away at the sound of a firework was later found drowned at sea.

The online petition, submitted to the Government petitions website, asks for Parliament to “ban the sale of fireworks to the public and only approve organised displays,” and has so far attracted more than 57,500 signatures.

The creator of the petition, Mike Old, told The Independent he launched the campaign after a dog in his local area was found swept up at sea after being “spooked” by fireworks set off by a group of youngsters on the beach on 17 October.

Mr Old, of Whitley Bay, said: “The initial reason was a dog called Shearer who was out with his owner having his evening walk down near St Mary’s lighthouse, a firework spooked him and he ran off.

“As he was a local dog the story gained momentum and hundreds of people searching the area. His owners set up a Facebook page which, as you can imagine, had an awful lot of followers.

“Shearer was found a week later, having been swept into the sea at Whitley Bay and being carried down to Redcar. That was the trigger. Since then I’ve posted the link on as many pages that I can, as have my supporters.”

Mr Old, 60, said the local feeling had been “overwhelming” for the deceased dog, which helped the petition gain momentum, adding that he also launched the campaign due to the dangers of fireworks to people.

He added: “The other reason is that, regardless of Government statistics, thousands of people, mainly children, are hurt by fireworks each year.

“I think fireworks should only be sold to fully licenced professional displays and not the public, and they should only be held on 5 November, which would cut down the window for injuries etc to a small time frame, thereby reducing the injuries and the impact it has on the NHS.”

Stephen Scott, Shearer's owner, told The Independent he had been out with the dog on St Mary’s Island beach when a “group of lads” arrived and began setting off fireworks, at which point Shearer – despite being trained “to the highest level” – ran off.

Mr Scott, 54, said: “I was just playing with Shearer on the beach when a group of lads turned up in cars and started setting off loud fireworks just up the coast, at which point he immediately disappeared. I didn't see where he went but we assume he ran straight into the sea as he was found a week later on the coastline 60 kilometres away.

“The boys are still going to the same spot... and setting off fireworks. Three dogs have gone missing there since, but fortunately been found alive. They need to be stopped.”

The petition, created on 18 October, reads: “Every year 1000s of people are hurt, burnt, maimed and even lose their lives through accidents involving fireworks. Every year people are terrorised by the misuse of fireworks. Every year animals are hurt and traumatised by fireworks. Ban them please.”

The Government is required to response to it by 12 November. If the petition reaches 100,000, it will be considered for debate in Parliament.

In June a Conservative MP told a parliamentary debate all displays should be professionally licenced in future after a petition to restrict them was signed by more than 100,000 people.

Philip Hollobone, MP for Kettering, told the Commons amateur back garden fireworks displays were “rubbish” and proposed that all displays should be professionally licenced.

But the Government rejected the plan, claiming amateur fireworks users would not be “deterred by further regulation” and that restrictions could lead to job losses and a drop in “legitimate sales”.

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