Pet owners say Fourth of July fireworks displays create anxiety for their animals
The Fourth of July holiday weekend is expected to see countless fireworks displays across the state, but not everyone is looking forward to the noise these events create.
A Nutley woman says that the noise from illegal fireworks gets so bad that she has resorted to giving her dogs medication to calm them down.
“You think it’s over and you finally get to sleep, and all of a sudden, you get BOOM,” Linda Vassallo says.
Vassallo says she has lived in Nutley for 15 years. She says the noises from fireworks started almost two weeks ago and lasts until 3 a.m. She says it is causing her pets extreme anxiety.
“We didn’t get home in time, [my one dog] scratched his way through the door to the downstairs,” she says.
This is not an uncommon occurrence for many pet owners. Vassallo says she suspects many of the fireworks she hears going off in her neighborhood are illegal.
“Sometimes you’ll actually see the fireworks,” she says.
Former Gov. Chris Christie legalized some types of fireworks in 2017. These include nonexplosive and non-aerial fireworks like sparklers and party poppers. Fireworks were banned in New Jersey altogether before this time. But some New Jersey residents would cross state lines to buy products not allowed in the Garden State.
Fireworks salesman Corey Kolibas says that people often come by his stand and leave without buying anything because he does not sell explosive fireworks.
“People ask me, ‘Where’s the closest TNT store, which is probably an hour and a half,” he says.
Dog trainer Nicole Costanza says there are ways for pet owners to acclimate their dogs to the sound of fireworks. But she says it can be long and tedious. She says the medication is another possible option.
“If a dog is extremely nervous and you've tried all other methods to try to relax your dog, you can absolutely medicate them. But please talk to your vet first before you do,” she says.
Vassallo says she has one of her dogs on Xanax.
And it is not just dogs that are bothered by the noise of fireworks. Some veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder can also be affected.
Some towns across the state have taken to social media to put their residents on notice about noise violations and fireworks violations. Several are taking a zero-tolerance approach on fireworks violations.