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Op-Ed: Fireworks Are Not Always A Blast, Especially for Pets

The change in fireworks law brings increased sales at others' expense–including a lofty vet bill for a Dearborn resident's dog who had a seizure caused by the explosions.

The Fourth of July celebration this year in Dearborn took on a much louder and more frequent barrage of pyro-display in our neighborhood than last year.  I suspect that by now most everyone is aware that there was a that eased the legality of fireworks sales in time for the Independence Day reverie. 

This decision likely had multiple variables that were taken into consideration, but the one that bubbles to the surface as the most obvious is that the state would see a gain in tax revenue from the sales.

The gain in revenue didn't come without some expense. In our home, it was a costly one for our wallet and our nerves.

We have a rescued chihuahua who is typically a good-natured and happy little girl. She is not particularly fond of thunderstorms and loud noises and has not liked fireworks in the past, but this year was a whole new decibel level of fear for her.

Unlike thunderstorms, where an animal can sense it coming even before we do, fireworks are spontaneous, instantaneous and loud. They are more frightening and unpredictable in this way. The increase of fireworks activity in our neighborhood this year sounded more like we were under attack than under celebration.

Our dog, Chloe, was sure of it. She became so frightened from the continuous barrage of fireworks one night that she slipped into a seizure. 

New territory for us, it was unclear if she was breathing–was something blocking her air passageway, how come she wasn't responding to us, what is that glassy look in her eyes, what is happening to her? This happened in the evening, after regular veterinary hours, and our only choice was to rush her to the veterinary emergency clinic. Thankfully only minutes away, we arrived there as Chloe began to come out of her seizure.

Upon examination and much explanation about the circumstances, she was diagnosed with having had a seizure from fear of fireworks. 

Newly armed the next day with a Thunder Shirt (a tight fitting, adjustable coat that is manufactured to help dogs and cats with anxiety) and a prescription for doggie valium, we were better prepared going into day two of battle ... um, celebration.

It took two hours to get the dosage correct, but finally, we managed through fireworks that night with mostly some shaking. The fireworks tapered in volume in our neighborhood on the third night. It has since settled back down to random explosions and nothing that requires medicating and cancelling plans to be sure the dog doesn't have another seizure without us being there.  

For our household, the tab was about $200 from the wallet, some much needed human sedation after going through the initial ordeal, and two missed evening gatherings with friends during the holiday window.

We heard from many others in social media, in email and face to face about their displeasure of the fireworks going on around them as well. We heard tales of fires from errant ashes, other terrified pets, human injuries and general discontent with this changed law.

I'm sure some residents enjoyed the privilege of having more powerful fireworks at their disposal and I appreciate those of our neighbors who did respect the three-night rule of discharging them.

I also hope that it was a financial gain for the state, because it was an unnecessary new expense for our household. 

As the fireworks season continues, the has some reminders for pet safety on their website.

Sandra Boulton is a Dearborn resident, animal-lover and owner of Boulton and Associates Marketing.

Paul July 10, 2012 at 11:38 PM
The low-hanging fruit that buy and launch these annoying fireworks are not going to be reading this site. Good read though & agree 100%
Bob J. February 05, 2013 at 05:19 AM
Ummmm really? "We heard from many others in social media, in email and face to face about their displeasure of the fireworks going on around them as well. We heard tales of fires from errant ashes, other terrified pets, human injuries and general discontent with this changed law." This OP said, from what they HEARD. Where is the proof, stats and facts? I do agree that some animals do not like fireworks but I have a dog and cat that absolutley love them. My dog loves chasing the smoke. My cat is in awe of the colors.
Bob February 05, 2013 at 10:45 AM
I'm sorry, but this article was hilarious. If your rescue Chihuahua can't take the noise why don't you plan your vacation for the two weeks around 4th of July and take your otherwise "happy little girl" up north to the solitude? Let me guess: Never had kids? If dainty little Chloe can sense a thunderstorm coming, maybe she's able to sense your state of hyperbole and it's YOU who are are making her "slip into a seizure".

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