A family is urging pet owners to take care of their animals following their dog dying after being scared by fireworks.
Byson, a one year old staffie, was at home with his owners when a firework sent him bolting into the darkness.
Owner Andrea Aitken said: “Around 6pm Byson was in the garden with a Sunday roast lamb bone.
“With no prior warning fireworks started going off from the back garden of our neighbour about six doors down.
“Shocked Byson jumped the waist-high garden gate (which he had never done before) and bolted into the darkness.
“Me and my daughter rushed straight out looking for him in the pitch black calling him and blowing a whistle.
“We were approached five minutes later by two men in a pickup truck which had hit him. They said he ran straight into the vehicle.
“Byson was laid out in the back of the pickup.
“He was one year old and this wasn’t his time to go.”
Byson had apparently run along the road for some 500 metres before colliding head-on with the vehicle in the dark. He was killed instantly.
Ms Aitken said: “He’s never jumped over the gate before, and I wasn’t expecting there to be fireworks.
“I guess he’d never been outside and heard something like that before, and his reaction was to just run and run for safety.
“I’ll never go to a fireworks event again – it’s really upset my family.
“The people letting the fireworks off were just trying to have a good evening, and I don’t think the pickup could have swerved in time. It’s just tragic really, tragic.
“I know fireworks can upset dogs and other pets, but I wasn’t expecting them.
“With bonfire night approaching I just want to urge other dog owners to really pay attention to the safety of their pets.”
People launching fireworks from their gardens are advised to notify neighbours, particularly those with young children or pets, but it is not a requirement and as the sound and flashes and travel over a wide area it may be difficult to notify everyone affected.
Official advice from the RSPCA for pet owners says:
– During firework seasons, walk dogs during daylight hours and keep cats and dogs indoors when fireworks are likely to be set off.
– Make sure your dog or cat always has somewhere to hide if he or she wants to and has access to this place at all times. For example this could be under some furniture or in a cupboard.
– At nightfall close windows and curtains and put on music to mask and muffle the sound of fireworks.
– It’s fine to comfort your pet if it helps them relax, or leave them alone unless you think they will harm themselves.
– Never punish your pets when they’re scared as this will only makes things worse in the long run.
– Make sure your cat or dog is always kept in a safe and secure environment and can’t escape if there’s a sudden noise. Have your pet microchipped in case they do escape.
The Dogs Trust has a training programme to help owners teach their dogs to be less scared of loud and sudden noises, but such training takes several months.
Firework seasons are typically October 15 to November 10, and December 26 to 31. Fireworks may also be sold from non-licenced premises in the days around Diwali and Chinese New Year.