By Devina SamarooA newly formed animal rights group is calling on the public to help with the elimination of the use of loud fireworks and other explosives typically used during the New Year celebration.Firecrackers on sale at Stabroek MarketThe Animal Rescue Adoption and Protection Society (ARAPS) is also calling on the Government of Guyana to lead by example and not use loud fireworks to beckon 2020.“There are alternatives to the use of fireworks, such as silent fireworks, laser lights, and drones, the organisation said.Fireworks mark various celebrations all over the world.It is unclear where fireworks originated but most historians believe it was invented in China and that the Chinese initially believed that it could be used to scare away evil spirits.In Guyana, firecrackers and fireworks are widely used for a number of festivals such as New Year, Diwali and the country’s Republic and Independence Anniversaries.More so, a lot of residents indulge in the usage of these explosive devices, though some were banned many years ago.Despite the ban, firecrackers and other explosives are prominently displayed and widely sold throughout peak seasons.Just in October 2019, the Guyana Police Force issued a reminder, warning that vendors caught selling these goods will be arrested and charged.The Force reflected that in the past, the devices have caused grievous bodily harm to adults and children.Harm to AnimalsBut according to the ARAPS, it also results in significant harm to animals.It pointed out that the function of hearing in animals is much more sensitive than it is in humans.“Fireworks can emit sounds of up to 190 decibels (110 to 115 decibels above the range of 75 to 80 decibels where the damage to the human ear begins) and can lead to the loss of hearing and tinnitus.”As a result, the explosions of fireworks are not only more painful to them but can cause severe damage to their hearing.In addition to these impairments, the sound effects of fireworks cause animals to become anxious and timid, the organisation explained.“Repetitive exposure to unexpected, random massive sonances can generate phobias in many animals, increasing panic reactions.”For instance, dogs are capable of hearing up to 60,000hz, while humans cannot hear anything above 20,000hz.“This auditory acuity of dogs is one of the reasons the sound of fireworks can be so harmful to them, displaying signs of overwhelming anxiety as they are unable to escape from the noise,” ARAPS stated.Common reactions are freezing or paralysis, uncontrolled attempts to escape and hide, and tremors.Other more intense signs may also be present, such as salivation, tachycardia, emotional vocalisations, urination or defecation, heightened activity, hyper-alertness, and gastrointestinal disorders.Horses have a very similar reaction to dogs. They can suddenly feel threatened by fireworks due to their hypervigilance since they are always on high alert.“As a result, horses and dogs tend to try to flee, potentially causing damage to property, traffic accidents, and severe harm to themselves,” ARAPS explained.Birds also affected“The noise of firecrackers can cause birds to experience tachycardia and even death by fright. The high degree of stress birds encounter indicates by the fact that birds may temporarily or permanently abandon their nesting areas, causing them to crash into a building and to experience disorientation.” And in many cases, animals may take weeks to recover from that traumatising experience.AlternativesWhile many look forward to the colourful display in the night skies, there are quieter alternatives.In 2018, the city of Banff ditched its conventional fireworks display for a “quiet fireworks” show for Canada Day.Basically, the vibrant flashy colours remained while the traditional bangs, crackles and whistles were minimised.And other options like lasers and drones guarantee a similar ‘firework’ experience without damage to animals and even the environment.American cities in states like California, Arizona and Colorado used drones to put on light shows for the Fourth of July last year to reduce the likelihood of wildfires.However, these alternatives do come with challenges.Quiet fireworks may not go as high as traditional fireworks due to weaker chemical composition. And, drones and lasers are expensive. For drones, each display may need over 100 devices and it will have to be programmed and tested before the real show.AppealBut when it comes to firecrackers, the animal rights organisation is urging persons not to use them.“This New Year, animals are at your mercy, please do not use loud bombs,” ARAPS pleaded.“Furthermore, please ensure that children or even adults do not play pranks by throwing bombs at animals or tying crackers to their tails. Yes, this has happened in the past,” the organisation pointed out.ARAPS is also advising pet owners to keep their pets indoors and supervised to prevent them from escaping.“Let us all strive to be smarter and better human beings by caring for our voiceless friends. Use this season of celebrating goodness, affection, and the act of kindness to spread happiness and inclusivity, and collectively be a citizenry that cares and respects all living things.”ARAPS was formed in November 2019 by a group of animal activists including Shari Rodrigues Dasilva, Alana Singh, Nikie Ramnarace, Tricia Azaire, Melissa Ramdeen, Kesharie Singh, Tammy Quail, Saleema Haniff, Nicole Patricia, Syeada Manbodh, Noreen Gaskin and Micaela Ross.Its mission focuses on eradicating animal cruelty while promoting awareness, rescue aids, and housing for all animals.