It is an offence to infuriate animals

Matthew Chatfield
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Bonfire night… when all the fireworks go off and our pets go a bit funny. Recent changes to the law mean that fireworks can’t be set off between 11pm and 7am (apart from on 5 November, New Year’s Eve, Chinese New Year and Diwali, when the curfew is later), but that’s little consolation to Fido cowering under the bed for the preceding 6 hours. Usually there a whole lot of good advice for pet owners, or, to be honest, for dog owners mostly. It seems that cats don’t quite complain so much – or perhaps their owners don’t. Anyway, this year the DEFRA webpage giving advice to dog-owners has some suggestions which are slightly different to the usual common sense about keeping the animal indoors and not fixing fireworks to it with duct-tape and so on. They point out that:

The Protection of Animals Act 1911 makes it an offence to infuriate or terrify any animal.

DEFRA further suggests these slightly more unexpected items:

  • Do not try to acclimatise your dog to the noise by insisting it faces the noise, they may never get used to the noise and you may be causing damage.
  • Surprisingly your dog may jump into the bath! This shows its instinct to run into holes when danger is present.
  • You may find that your dog starts to dig, this is following the same hiding instinct.
  • If your dog shows any tendency to hide, let it.

Now that all sounds like good advice to The Ranger, although the jumping in the bath thing is a new one. But the idea of actually trying to make your dog endure the fireworks by “insisting it faces the noise” seems bizarre. Does anyone really do this? It sounds like some kind of Victorian dog-training technique. “Damage” seems like a bit of an understatement. Anyway, most frightened dogs seem to make plenty of noise of their own, without any need to be ‘made to face it’. Can infuriating an animal really be an offence? The Ranger has a friend who loves to entertain himself by infuriating his cats – and come on, now, you must admit that if you own a cat, you must have tickled their ears whilst they sleep enough to make them infuriated. At least once, surely. And who has not drawn back their arm with a big stick in it and then pretended to throw it? How infuriated can a dog get? Maybe ‘infuriating’ meant something a little more severe back in 1911. Keep safe, this firework night, and keep your pets safe too. Make sure that Guy Fawkes is the only one who gets a roasting! (Original link supplied by Cat)

Matthew Chatfield

Uncooperative crusty. Unofficial Isle of Wight cultural ambassador. Conservation, countryside and the environment, with extra stuff about spiders.

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