Dogs who suffer from noise phobia will be unable to escape Malta’s nationwide fireworks show to celebrate reopening of the airport, warns animal sanctuary MSPCA.
A total of 21 localities will be participating in the large-scale firework show but not everyone will be celebrating, with dog owners particularly worried about the ramifications the noise pollution will have on their pets.
“Dogs have hearing that is far more sensitive than the human ear. Those that have noise phobias are more stressed in these kinds of situations,” MSPCA Outreach Manager Christian Pace told Lovin Malta.
“In the most severe cases, there are some dogs that even get heart attacks caused by this.”
“This behaviour is basically caused by a surge in adrenaline in reaction to the loud noises. A whole evening of this and the animal will be exhausted and ill,” continued Pace.
“It leads to chronic stress which raises the cortisol levels over an extended period leading to reduced immunity, deterioration in health and reduced ability to cope with other stressors such as abandonment, adoption, meeting new people/dogs, sharing space with other dogs, etc.”
Fireworks go hand in hand with traditional summer feasts in Malta which were cancelled earlier this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In normal circumstances, pet owners are able to control a dog’s reactions to fireworks, either by a desensitization programme or by moving them to another locality. But the sudden and abrupt announcement of a grand firework show across the whole island leaves owners no choice but to see their pet suffer through it.
“Normally if it’s a feast and the dog has a phobia, the owner can take it to friends and family in other localities,” continued Pace.
“But there’s nowhere to escape because it’s all over the country.”
There are dedicated desensitization programs in Malta aimed at helping dogs who suffer from noise phobia but it takes months of training according to the MSPCA Outreach Manager.
“In severe cases, my advice to clients is to visit a vet and get prescribed medication against anxiety to help the dog for the evening.”
“We’ve also published some advice on our site that dog owners can adhere to following the news.”
The noise pollution caused by fireworks doesn’t affect dogs alone but other forms of wildlife too and even people with certain health conditions. One town in Italy found a solution to this problem by passing a law that fireworks must be silent.
“We have an issue with fireworks because they don’t need to be this noisy to be nice to look at. The noise and shockwaves are unnecessary to the firework itself,” ended Pace.
MSPCA also made reference to Subsidiary Legislation 439.21, known as the Keeping of Dogs Regulation, which recommends that noise levels of 85dBA or louder be avoided in buildings where dogs are being kept.
“This is the equivalent of a passing diesel truck or louder,” it said on Facebook.