Guy Fawkes Eve nightmare for pet cat proves fitting warning of danger to pets

AWS SA Inspector Mark Levendal rescues a cat from a barbed wire fence, Saturday, November 4, 2023. Picture: Supplied

AWS SA Inspector Mark Levendal rescues a cat from a barbed wire fence, Saturday, November 4, 2023. Picture: Supplied

Published Nov 4, 2023


On the eve of Guy Fawkes, an Animal Welfare Society of South Africa (AWS SA) inspector was called in to rescue a cat that got caught in a barbed wire fence.

Inspector Mark Levendal from the Philippi branch of AWS SA was called in on Saturday morning to rescue a cat in Highbury Park, Kuilsriver in Cape Town.

According to AWS SA nurse Jaque le Roux, the cat was attempting to escape from fireworks set off in the area. He added that the patient is in the recovery ward at their premises in Philippi.

On the AWS SA’s facebook page, they offered the following advice for pet owners living in areas where fireworks are expected to be discharged:

  1. Ensure all animals have identification - sudden loud bangs can cause pets to run away and become lost. Remember, their hearing is far more acute than ours - i.e.; they can hear a grasshopper eating.
  2. If possible, stay home with them if you suspect fireworks will be used nearby.
  3. If you can't be at home, keep your pet(s) inside and preferably in a room that is safe and secure.
  4. Try to mask any noise by drawing the curtains and playing calming music at a reasonable volume.
  5. Put familiar and comforting things around them such as toys, baskets, etc.
  6. Give your pet(s) a nutritious and balanced meal at night - this is likely to make them sleepier.
AWS SA Inspector Mark Levendal rescues a cat from a barbed wire fence in Kuilsriver, Cape Town. Picture: Supplied
The patient recovering from the ordeal at the AWS SA Philippi centre. Picture: Supplied

Although the celebration of Guy Fawkes is a British tradition, which is celebrated annually on November 5, South Africans have adopted it. In the past, on the days leading up to November, 5, South Africans have set off fireworks and on the Cape Flats especially, this tradition has been modified to include slinging paint filled stockings at each other and passing motor vehicles.

In Britain on this day the effigy of Guy Fawkes is usually burnt in a bonfire, accompanied with fireworks. This is to celebrate the failed attempt to assassinate King James I of England and blow up the Houses of Parliament on November 5, 1605, in an attempt known as the Gunpowder Plot. Fawkes was in charge of guarding the gunpowder, but was caught and arrested as the plot failed due to a search of the building before the attack could be executed.

In a statement, the City of Cape Town’s Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security, JP Smith said: “On the one hand, we have the problem of fireworks in residential areas, causing untold trauma to communities and pets, and then on the other, mobs of mostly children, causing destruction in their local areas.

“We're heartened by the slight downturn in complaints in recent years, but this tradition needs to be completely eradicated. I call on residents to report any concerns, so that these may be dealt with. I also urge those who continue to partake in this bizarre form of revelry to rethink their actions – not only are you putting innocent people and animals in harm's way, but you are also diverting enforcement and emergency resources from more pressing matters.”

The City said residents are reminded that there are no designated sites for the discharge of fireworks, and doing so without a permit is illegal.

The statement goes on to list fines for punishable offences such as: detonating fireworks inside a building and public thoroughfare; selling fireworks to children; and allowing children to use fireworks without adult supervision of between R200 and R300.

This year, the Cape of Good Hope SPCA has called for “a quiet Guy Fawkes night to protect pets and wildlife”.

“Animals can hear a wider range of sounds than humans can, the sound from fireworks is at least seven times louder to them,” the SPCA said in a statement.

“Take the loudest, most ear-piercing sound you’ve ever heard – something like a fire alarm at its peak volume and multiply that intensity several times over. Now imagine it as a sudden, unexpected noise that can be as startling and distressing to a dog as a sonic boom or the shockwave from a large explosion would be to a human.

“An animal’s natural response is to flee from the noise, often with tragic consequences,” a statement on the Cape of Good Hope SPCA’s website said.

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