'Driven Insane With Terror': Horrific Ways Fireworks Affect Animals

The horror spreads beyond domestic animals
The animals' suffering goes beyond what most people imagine (Photo: Nidhin Mundackal)

People know that dogs and cats are often scared of fireworks. 

Warnings about this are the autumnal version of winter messages about dogs being not just for Christmas. Quite a few people also know that hedgehogs sometimes curl up and sleep in bonfires before they are lit.

But these are just the start of the horror that the firework season causes for many animals each year. 


Last weekend, a horse in Lincolnshire was so terrified by a nearby display she jumped out of her field and was hit by a car on the A57. Her carer says it will take six months for the horse’s injuries to heal.

Many horses have died in similar incidents. Last year, a two-year old gelding was found dead in Wirral, tangled in wire, after he attempted to flee a local firework event. Marks all over his field showed he had sprinted around in panic for some time before his wretched end.  

Some horses are put to sleep, including a four-month-old colt who was driven 'insane' with terror when he heard nearby fireworks. 

It’s horrific to imagine what these animals went through.

Many horses die as a result of firework displays (Photo: Cristy Zinn)


Birds freak out, too, flying too far out to sea, or breaking their necks as they fly into buildings in panic. 

Pregnant farm animals sometimes miscarry. A bull trying to escape the din died after becoming impaled on a fence.

The suffering continues out in the wild, where many squirrels and other creatures are distressed by the explosions. They abandon their nests and then are left so disorientated that they cannot find their way back to them.

In the days after displays, the misery spreads to the waters. Fish ingest the toxic debris of fireworks that landed in ponds, rivers, and streams. They can endure long, painful deaths. 

Ducks and swans can suffer too, either by swallowing the debris or getting tangled in it.

Guy Fawkes

For weeks after Guy Fawkes’ night, shelters and sanctuaries see a spike in arrivals of pets and other animals who have fled from their homes. Many animals have highly sensitive hearing, which has been damaged by the booming explosions.

I would argue that the vegan quest to exclude all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals makes firework displays a no-no for us. 

But surely if you have any sort of compassion for animals, you will stay at home this weekend and tell people why. What could make a firework display – the very epitome of the overrated, momentary thrill – worth inflicting terror, injury, and death on animals?

Attending firework displays should be a no-no for vegans (Photo: Nicolas Tissot)


The answer is same for many forms of animal harm: the illusory bliss of ignorance. 

People who buy meat are not shown the hell of factory farms, or the savagery of slaughterhouses.

Likewise, those who whoop at fireworks aren’t told of the misery the pyrotechnics can bring to animals, which goes beyond a few cats and dogs hiding behind sofas.

*On November 9, this article was moved to the opinion section to reflect the inclusion of the author's opinions.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are prepared in the author's capacity and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Plant Based News itself. 

Reuse this content
PBN Contributor:

Chas Newkey-Burden writes about veganism and animal rights for The Guardian, Metro, Indy Voices, Daily Telegraph, International Business Times and Attitude. He is also the author of several books, including 'Running: Cheaper Than Therapy’ and ’64 Geeks’. A calf is named after him at the Retreat Animal Rescue sanctuary. You can follow Chas on Twitter: @AllThatChas

(c) 2019 Plant Based News LTD. All Rights Reserved. Content must not be copied without permission.

Join the conversation

Since you're here...
Plant Based News is a FREE service that receives millions of views each week. This takes a lot of our personal time, money and hard work. But we do it because we KNOW it makes a difference. If those following our reporting helped by contributing, we could do even more. Please consider supporting us so we can create further awareness about animal rights, environmentalism, ethical consumerism and the plant-based lifestyle. Not a false narrative - but information that empowers people to make better choices.

It's World Vegan Day