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PETA Asks For Safer GA Fireworks Laws After Milton Donkey Dies

© Provided by Planck, LLC, d/b/a Patch Media

By Kathleen Sturgeon, Patch

A beloved miniature donkey named Sammy died—likely of fright or heart attack—during this year’s Fourth of July fireworks at Seven Gables Farm in Milton. 

In response, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, sent a letter Wednesday to the Georgia house speaker, governor, and Senate majority leader with a proposal: ban all but “safe and sane” fireworks (ones that don’t explode like “bombs bursting in air”) to protect noise-sensitive domesticated animals, wildlife, children, veterans, and elderly people and to prevent more tragedies like Sammy’s death, the organization wrote in a press release.

“Animals panic, become separated from their guardians, and even die because of these World War II–type explosions, so we’re asking lawmakers to enact common-sense fireworks legislation,” PETA President Ingrid Newkirk said. “To protect the more vulnerable among us, PETA is urging the introduction of ‘Sammy’s Law,’ to switch to drones, laser light shows, and other modern ways to celebrate.”

Fireworks can cause even the calmest of animals to panic, attempt to flee, or even die, as Sammy did, from the terrifying noise, Newkirk wrote in the proposal.

"Sammy is not the only beloved animal to have died this way," she wrote. "A few years ago, a horse, also from Milton, was spooked so badly that he ran into a barn wall and broke his neck. Animal shelters and wildlife rescues report a large increase in the number of animals they receive following fireworks displays. "

South Carolina's Aiken County Animal Shelter’s manager Bobby Arthurs says that only about 7 percent of these animals are ever reunited with their guardians, Newkirk wrote.

"Often, dogs like Trout of North Fulton panic as they try to escape from the loud noise and end up getting lost," she wrote. "Some have been known to jump through glass windows or over fences and end up being seriously hurt or killed. Wild animals, such as deer, flee onto roads, where they may be killed and endanger drivers. The loud blasts also cause birds to fly into chimneys and houses—and even to abandon their nests and young."

The stress caused by fireworks is not limited to animals, Newkirk wrote, but veterans and others suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder are sensitive to and can be deeply disturbed by the noise of the explosives.

"States such as Florida, Maryland, and Virginia allow the use of only safe and sane fireworks, which are non-explosive and non-aerial," Newkirk wrote. "Passing 'Sammy’s Law' and banning explosive consumer fireworks and all other types in Georgia, while permitting safe and sane options, would enable the state to continue to raise revenue from fireworks sales even as it also provides a way for residents to celebrate in a safer, quieter manner for the sake of all who live in the state. Thank you for your consideration."

In a community like Milton, Mayor Joe Lockwood emphasized before the Fourth of July the importance of residents considering nearby neighbors with large outdoor animals and small indoor pets who may be vulnerable to the sights and sounds of fireworks.

"While there's no doubt that a fireworks display can be exciting for many people, fireworks can be less enjoyable for animals and even some veterans," Lockwood said.

Fireworks are legal in the state of Georgia and permitted on July 3 and 4 from 10 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. on both days. However, there are some restrictions on their usage:

  • You cannot use fireworks in/on a public road.
  • You also cannot use fireworks within 100 yards of a(n):
  • Gas station, fuel tank or other retail/storage facility with flammable or combustible liquids;
  • An electric substation, water treatment plan, or waste-water treatment facility;
  • A hospital, nursing home, or other health care facility; or
  • Any public use air facility.
  • Within any county or city park, historic site, recreational area, or other property, unless the county or city has granted a special use permit.
  • While under the influence of alcohol or any drug to the extent that it is unsafe to use consumer fireworks.

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Pets Magazine: PETA Asks For Safer GA Fireworks Laws After Milton Donkey Dies
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