When I was a kid, fireworks consisted of “fountains”, “snakes,” whistling Pete’s and sparklers. Once in a while someone would pick up some “sky rockets” from Tijuana, basically a firecracker on a stick, but they were illegal. Bottom line, fireworks were not any where near as loud as what we have today.

I don’t know the ordinances for fireworks in Hendersonville, but I know that pets are not the only ones bothered by them. Veterans, people with heart and other conditions can be seriously affected by them as well.

This particular New Years Eve, the terror caused by fireworks in the neighborhood quite literally nearly killed my dog. He has heart disease. He is still not eating and I don’t know how much the ordeal has shortened his life. My hope is that my neighbors will read this and share it with others who might be unaware of the harm the simple fun of shooting off some fireworks can cause.

I spent New Year’s Day in the emergency veterinary clinic with my dog Zion, where they pulled 140 oz of fluid from his belly. Yesterday he was happy, eating and doing really well for a dog with advanced heart disease. Zion is on 3 heart medications that enable his enlarged heart to pump more efficiently, giving him a little more time with us and a decent quality of life in the duration.

On the night before, New Years Eve, and a few neighbors celebrated by setting off fireworks. Zion was terrified. He’s always been afraid of fireworks and was extremely anxious, panting, pacing, and following me around with panic in his eyes. He couldn’t settle down to sleep last night after the commotion was over.

New Years morning I found that he’d thrown up on the carpet and had an accident on the closed-in patio. (Chows are very clean dogs. They typically don’t have accidents, and if they do, they feel terrible about it.) I made him his breakfast but he wouldn’t eat. In all his 10 years of life, Zion has never refused a meal, so now I was really concerned. I checked his tummy to see if it was soft, like the vet frequently does, and I found that it was swollen and hard. I didn’t know exactly what that meant but I knew it was bad news combined with the other symptoms. So, on New Years Day, I took my dog to the emergency clinic, where I learned that the stress he’d experience the night before because of the fireworks had caused Zion’s heart to beat so fast and inefficiently that his kidneys weren’t able to function properly and had leaked fluid into his abdomen.

The emergency vet clinic is a sad place to be on a holiday. People are there because their pets are in read bad shape, many of them dying. One woman who was called into a room suddenly burst into screaming, mournful sobs, clearly at being told that her border collie had not made it. The sound of sniffling filled with the waiting room as the pet owners there with me choked back tears of empathy for her. I’m sure, like me, they wondered if their pet was next. Zion was fortunate that day, because the procedure to pull the extra fluid out of his belly cavity was relatively minor and I was so thankful to bring him back home with me! The vet told me she sees a lot of dogs with heart disease adversely affected by fireworks.

I used to enjoy fireworks, but when Zion was just a puppy, I came to see them in a different light. What was a source of fun for many was a cause of utter terror for my little dog.

I’m sure that if the people in my neighborhood knew their celebration would send my dog to the emergency hospital and quite possibly cost him his life, not to mention cost me $500, they might have chosen to set their fireworks off somewhere away from the neighborhood.

But they didn’t know, so I’m just putting it out there:

Fireworks are fun and pretty and can be part of a great family celebration, but they can TERRIFY pets, and can literally kill those that are in failing health. Please think of the neighborhood pets (and your own!) before planning your fireworks celebration. And maybe plan to gather at a park or somewhere away from the homes and pets in your neighborhood.