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Animal welfare group Gaia steps up action against fireworks

10:39 21/01/2024

Belgian animal rights group Gaia is looking to sue the federal government in a bid to change legislation surrounding the sale of fireworks.

The association said that pyrotechnics had injured or even caused the death of many animals in Belgium.

In the 33 reports that Gaia has received since 25 December, 10 animals died and five others fled following firework displays.

The group said that this list is not exhaustive, and other associations have also cited reports of animals being harmed in end-of-year celebrations – a period popular for fireworks despite the ban imposed on private displays this and last year in Brussels.

For example, one resident from Gedinne, Namur province, told Gaia that she had found her dog dead at the side of the road on New Year’s Eve, after it had tried to escape from the garden to flee the fireworks.

Gaetan Sgualdino, head of a La Louvière animal refuge, said he was aware of at least 10 reports of animals being lost because of pyrotechnic displays.

In the face of these tragedies, Gaia said it sent a formal notice in February last year to economics minister Pierre-Yves Dermagne and interior minister Annelies Verlinden.

At the time, it received a draft text banning the sale of fireworks to minors to which it submitted comments. But today, the group said that the plans seems to have been forgotten.

Enraged at the depressing status quo, Gaia is now determined to file a complaint against the federal government.

“By letting things take their course and not taking effective measures, the relevant ministries are in fact complicit in all this animal suffering,” said Gaia director Ann de Greef.

“The federal government must develop legislation that puts an end to the tragedies experienced every year by so many animals during the end-of-year festivities.

“Our association has lost patience. Animals are instant victims today. We can no longer wait for this ban on fireworks.”

She said that more municipalities are banning the sale or use of fireworks or only authorising them with the mayor’s permission.

But many individuals indulge in them regardless, Gaia said, and will continue to do so, “exposing many animals and humans to serious dangers”, unless there is a federal ban.

Written by Liz Newmark