As Macy’s continues its much-criticized plan to launch unannounced fireworks displays this week, in a letter sent today, PETA is urging the company’s Chair and CEO Jeff Gennette to cancel the remaining shows.
PETA points out that after fireworks displays, animal shelters—which are already working at half (or less) capacity because of the pandemic—see a spike in the number of lost dogs, who sometimes jump fences and even break through glass doors in order to escape from the frightening explosions. Because the time and location of Macy’s fireworks are not being announced in advance, animal guardians can’t even prepare their homes and animals for the blasts.
“After weeks of illegal amateur fireworks, the last thing that New York City’s vulnerable animal and human residents need are more nights of ‘bombs bursting in air,’” says PETA President Ingrid Newkirk. “PETA is urging Macy’s not to terrorize anyone with these senseless shows.”
PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way” and which opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview—notes that the war-like booms of fireworks also cause wildlife to flee onto roads and into buildings or abandon their nests and can be deeply distressing to humans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.
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PETA’s letter to Gennette follows.
June 30, 2020
Chair and CEO
Dear Mr. Gennette,
I’m writing on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and our more than 6.5 million members and supporters worldwide in response to your decision to launch multiple fireworks displays across New York City without giving local residents sufficient notice about their location. We urge you to cancel the remaining fireworks shows in order to protect all residents of the city, especially wildlife, people’s dogs and cats, people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other traumatized individuals as well as to protect air quality. Here’s why:
Traditional fireworks sound like an all-out war—not only to those suffering from PTSD but also to dogs, cats, and wildlife—and their use has devastating consequences. Terrified dogs climb or dig their way out of fenced-in yards as they frantically try to escape the chaos, resulting in increased stray-animal intakes at shelters across the nation, which further strains community resources. Many arrive with bloody paws or broken bones, some are never reunited with their families, and others are doomed to a worse fate. Without giving residents sufficient notice as to the locations at which these fireworks will be set off, you aren’t giving guardians the opportunity to prepare their homes and animal companions before these events.
Fireworks produce plumes of smoke laden with particles that are harmful to the respiratory systems of humans and other animals. Birds caught in or near fireworks displays easily choke on the toxic residue. The California Coastal Commission banned the city of Gualala’s display when, following a 2006 show, seabirds fled their nests, leaving their chicks vulnerable to predators. Most birds cannot see well in the dark, so this type of disruption can cause them to become injured if they inadvertently crash into power lines, cars, buildings, trees, or each other. In one case, 5,000 birds died on a New Year’s Eve in Arkansas after a fireworks display caused them to take flight and crash into objects such as houses and cars.
Humans have also been injured in fireworks accidents, and the displays can exacerbate asthma and other respiratory problems. Fireworks create pollutants that poison the air, and the shells litter playgrounds, parks, and streets. Veterans and others suffering from PTSD are also sensitive to and can be deeply disturbed by the noise of the explosives and the smell of the gunpowder. On average, 180 people go to emergency rooms daily with fireworks-related injuries for an entire month around July 4.
We strongly urge you to cancel the remaining fireworks displays. This is especially important this year during the pandemic, when shelters are working at half capacity and many are still closed and unable to take on an influx of lost animals. Thank you for your time and consideration. We look forward to hearing from you.
Very truly yours,
Ingrid E. Newkirk