Pippa was found at the weekend after running away from Island Sanctuary when she was startled by fireworks.
Dog rescue NGO Island Sanctuary is bracing itself for another summer of trying to keep rescued dogs from running away at the sound of fireworks.
Dogs are “traumatised” by fireworks, Island Sanctuary head Claire Gafa said, adding how rescued dogs often panic and try to run away as soon as they hear the ‘traditional’ sounds that mark every town and village feast.
Island Sanctuary volunteers had spent days looking for Pippa, a 10-year-old dog who had run away after someone let off fireworks close to the dogs’ shelter in Marsaxlokk.
“Last Tuesday, 12 strong petards were let off near our sanctuary, literally shaking the ground,” Ms Gafa said.
“Most of our dogs were running, as usual, inside the sanctuary and as soon as the first petard was let off, they went berserk,” she added.
Pippa was found later that week, scared and alone
“We managed to gather all the dogs except for one, which ran away in shock.”
Pippa was found later that week, scared and alone close to Fort San Luċjan in the same town.
Read: How to keep your pet happy through thunderstorms and fireworks
Animal welfare officers were called on site to identify the dog, who was then taken back to the shelter, Ms Gafa said.
Volunteers at the shelter had already started fearing the worst, Ms Gafa added. The dog, who had been living at the shelter for five years after her owners abandoned her, was naturally timid, Ms Gafa added.
“When Pippa was startled by the fireworks, she ran off with no idea where it was going,” she said.
Ms Gafa insisted sanctuaries should be informed in advance of when fireworks were going to be let off. “We are worried every summer, but usually we can plan ahead. They would still be very afraid if we were informed, but at least they would not get lost,” she said.
Fireworks are a staple of Maltese feasts, but animal lovers have long warned petards could affect animals’ well-being.
Malta Veterinary Association secretary Maurice O’Scanaill had told the Times of Malta that the production of eggs or milk could decrease because of the stress caused by firework blasts.
Startled animals could also suffer physical injuries from jumping over high walls or breaking through wired fences.
Veterinarian Sammy Bezzina echoed Dr O’Scanaill’s concerns and said dog owners, especially those who live in central Malta, sought vets’ assistance for their terrified dogs every summer.
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