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Why do New Year's Eve fireworks explode animal defenders' lines?
This dog was terrified by petards and ran away from his owners / Euroradio
On the evening of 2 January, I spotted a lonely dog next to the entrance to the Malinauka metro station in Minsk's south-west. The dog was lost as its frightened eyes were scanning the area looking for the owner. A group of girls nearby told me they had spotted the pet about one hour ago but nobody showed up to take him.
A delight for some, hell for others
I checked the collar: a chain, a metal buckle but no information about the owner. The doggy is looking into my eyes, wagging the tail. He must have got lost only recently.
My heart trembled and I decided to take the doggy home as a temporary solution. Back home, I posted information about the lost dog on social media. While doing so, I noticed dozens of similar announcements from the past 24 hours.
“Damned fireworks!” people complain in comments on social media. Launching petards and cracking fireworks during New Year's Eve celebrations is a ritual for many Belarusians. But while some get excited by the noise, it is pure hell for many other creatures. Cats dash under the sofas hiding, terrified dogs get unleashed and run in any direction. Sometimes, they may end up in the other city many kilometers of their home.
Animal defender: “Our phone lines are exploding on the first days of New Year”
Natallia Belianava, a co-founder of the animal protection society Egida, says such cases are common. Sometimes, dogs are found with torn dog-leads. Horrified, they can even tear their leashes.
“On the first days of New Year, our phone lines are exploding. People call from everywhere, write on our social media accounts. Many pets do not have chips, and there is no information on collars. Some people initially accept the lost pets but later let them out because they are not ready to shelter them," Natallia says.
Birds fall victims of New Year's Eve fireworks too. Simon Levy from BirdLife Belarus (APB) says petards and rockets can kill the birds not only frighten them.
“Friends were in Prague on New Year's Eve and saw how a petard explosion frightened several dozens of swans. Panicked, they flew in any direction. They could barely see anything at dark, bumping into cars and electricity grid lines. Some of them perished, others were seriously injured,” he says.
Simon reminds that swans also stay for winter in Belarus. All in all, more than 100 bird spices can be spotted during winter in Belarus. Loud noise means stress for birds. The story similar to the one in Prague can occur at any place where people are playing with fireworks.
What about people? My workmate tells me about a neighbor who stages a light show every year. He spends up to $1000 for fireworks annually. This year, another neighbor joyfully commented after every explosion: "That was a teacher's salary! And this one is yearly dole! And this one is a retirement payment!"
Piotr Kuzniztsou, a publisher from Homiel, is not happy about bangs outside:
“They reckon it is a "festive atmosphere" to make noise with cheap petards —he complains on Facebook. "I am trying to figure it. How does it work that a person becomes happy when he or she hears "Bang!?”
Simon Levy has advice for the fans of noise on New Year's Eve: do not use petards in places where many birds get together and spend nights. For example, the areas near a water reservoir in Minsk's north-west and near the Minsk Zoo are home to many water birds and animals.
Natallia Belianava reminds pet owners to have their aminals chipped or attach their phone numbers so that people who found them could easily contact them. Every year, Egiga picks up 300-400 lost pets who fail to return to their original owners.
My story about the lost doggy, which I took home has a happy end. Already in the morning of 3 January, his owner called me. The magic of social media worked!