Dog owners know that if there’s one thing that their furry companions hate, it’s fireworks and thunder. Needless to say, holidays like New Year’s Eve or the Fourth of July are not popular in the dog world. Loud noises can spook most dogs, but fireworks are especially stressful due to dogs’ sensitive hearing.
Collecchio, a small town in Italy, has decided to take steps to reduce the stress of dogs during fireworks season. The local government has passed a law stipulates that the fireworks set off in town must be silent in order to reduce the stress that loud noises cause animals. Setti Fireworks, which manufactures silent fireworks that can be customized for each event, has supplied Collecchio with silent fireworks.
In order to combat the fear dogs feel when they hear fireworks, ThunderWorks’ founder, Phil Blizzard, whose dog Dosi who was extremely afraid by thunderstorms and fireworks, invented the ThunderShirt after a friend suggested trying a snug wrap, like swaddling an infant, to calm Dosi down. During a bad storm, Blizzard wrapped Dosi into an old t-shirt and used packing tape to create mild pressure. Dosi calmed down almost immediately and lay down for the duration of the storm.
The ThunderShirt was inspired by livestock behavior expert and autism-awareness-advocate Temple Grandin, who created a “hug machine” for humans with autism after seeing how a light squeeze relaxed cows before slaughter. Deep Pressure Therapy is now used to help relax people with autism.
Collecchio is not the only town that has taken measure to ease dogs’ fears during the holiday season. In Canada, Banff in Alberta has used low-noise pyrotechnics to celebrate Canada Day on July 1.
“We wanted to minimize the impact on wildlife in the townsite and obviously the surrounding national park, as loud fireworks can be stressful to them,” Banff Deputy Mayor Corrie DiManno said. “And for us, moving to special-effect pyrotechnics helps us to walk the talk, so to speak. We consider ourselves leaders in this area of environmental preservation so we wanted to make sure that we were doing all we can.”
The resort town located within Banff National Park in the Rocky Mountains is home to many wildlife species, including elk, grizzly bears, caribou, gray wolves, deer, bighorn sheep, and bison.
“Anybody who’s had a cat and dog in the vicinity of fireworks knows often what it’s like ― you’ve got a pet adapted to an urban environment and often they run away or hide under the bed. So you can imagine the impact that might have on wild animals,” Reg Bunyan, vice president of the Bow Valley Naturalists.
Both Collecchio and Banff are setting an example for other cities and towns around the world that want to watch out for animal welfare.