Editorial by Barb Polzin
Photo Credit: sparkleisacolor.blogspot.com
State Representative Harold Haugh, (D) Roseville, wrote the law, Fireworks Safety Act, that rocked our state with noise night after night in 2012. The vote tally in the legislature was 98 – 10 for the law. Republicans 87% for/12% against. Democrats 92% for/4% against and 1 not voting. It was reasoned that Michigan residents were going out of state buying their fireworks in another state and lighting them illegally in Michigan so why not have the revenue stay in MI. Did the legislature think the law breakers that lit them illegally before would actually follow the law now and also use common sense? Well, we all know they did neither and yet this was their reward for previously breaking the law. If one has common sense they wouldn’t disrupt neighbors with this nonsense. Night after night of what the pyros call their hobby keeping residents awake, making our pets a nervous wreck and scaring wildlife. After 45 years of peace, we now have bomb like explosions in our lives, creating problems between neighbors.
Additionally, it was recently discovered that the Boston Marathon bombing suspects bought fireworks. Although the amount of gunpowder purchased wouldn’t have been enough by itself to detonate the Boston bombs, who knows what their sinister purpose was for – and it’s possible that some of that powder was used at the bombing site in Boston.
Ralph Wiltse of The Grand Haven Tribune wrote “Fireworks are obnoxious to me. I believe they are annoying to the great majority of people not only in the Tri Cities, but to the public in general.” He also wrote, “This legislation is a prime example of legislature listening (and perhaps profiting) to lobbyists instead of constituents. I’m sure that they listened to a slick operator from the fireworks industry about how the state would profit from the sales tax (and perhaps other taxes) by the sale of fireworks in Michigan instead of Michigan residents running off to Indiana to purchase them.”
For those of you that don’t know what days are legal (cannot have a ban) as of right now, there are 10 Federal holidays, the day before and the day after. That makes 720 hours of free for all that local governments cannot regulate. If your township has not voted in a ban on fireworks they are actually legal any time unless you have a noise ordinance. In August there was a committee chosen to fix the law. As of right now, they have only had discussions, nothing has been done. This committee is comprised of 4 men, all of whom voted in favor of the law. These four are Harold Haugh (email@example.com), Wayne Schmidt (WayneSchmidt@house.mi.gov), David Rutledge (firstname.lastname@example.org), and Hugh Crawford (HughCrawford@house.mi.gov).
As much as Representative Haugh wanted this law, the National Fire Association thinks it is a bad idea as you can see here.
Many Mayors and Fire Departments in Michigan concur that it is a bad idea as well. Just search “problems with Michigan Fireworks Law” and you will be bombarded with articles AGAINST fireworks being ignited by consumers. It used to be a treat for families to go to firework displays on the 4th of July or during their local festivals. Not anymore. Weddings, backyard parties, you name it, the fireworks are there. What about the many people that want to relax in their homes, yards or on their decks with their pets? The quality of life in Michigan has disintegrated due to the Fireworks Law.
The Mayor of Warren Michigan wrote Representativ Haugh a long letter about the real-time consequences of this new law and asked that it be nixed. You can read that letter here.
Many cities, counties and townships are placing tighter restrictions on fireworks and others are looking into it like Leelanau County. You can read about that here. According to this article, State Rep. Ray Franz, R-Onekama, is working to change state fireworks laws, given the outcry in Leelanau County and other communities. He wrote the to county officials in April and noted the law’s original sponsor, Rep. Harold Haugh, is willing to revisit the issue. Click here for that letter.
The City of Traverse City passed ordinances in 2012 as did the townships of Blair, Peninsula and Acme in Grand Traverse County.
Numerous articles on the the devastating impact that fireworks have on pets have been posted on the internet since the passing of the law. Click here for one of the many articles about this subject.
Following are quotes from various residents, a veterinarian and pet owners.
Cyndi, Pound Buddies Rescue Staff:
I work at Pound Buddies Rescue and the new law is detrimental to the welfare of all animals. Last summer of 2012, especially before, during, and after July 4th, our shelter had a substantial intake increase of approximately 10-20 dogs per day? Our shelter can hold approximately 130 dogs. When the dogs were bring brought in by Muskegon County’s Animal Control Officers, as well as the public who brought in the scared strays due to them digging under and/or jumping fences, or bolting after hearing the fireworks, we had to place them in cages up and down our hallway (on both sides, mind you) in our Education Room, our office, outside our laundry room, and sometimes in our heated garage (for a short period of time just to accommodate.
Let me tell you, this was a very stressful situation for our staff and volunteers, as well as the animals themselves. We are a non-profit organization with limited funds and yes, we had to pick and choose which animals we had to euthanize due to lack of space becase these dogs were not owner claimed. Some doges with behavioral issues, some were not.
It is only January of 2013 and I am dreading next summer when the fireworks will sound and we will again have to be faced with the torturing decision to kill more innocent animals only because of a ridiculous law made by man.
Eric J. Peck, DVM, Northern Michigan Veterinary Hospital
I am writing this letter on behalf of our pets. It is my opinion based on experience that a large percentage of dogs have severe anxiety and requires medications as a result of very loud noises, like those associated with fireworks and/or thunderstorms. I have many patients that require prolonged daily sedation during the 4th of July holiday and beyond due to excessive firework celebrations.
I believe that it is reasonable to require a limit on the number of days that fireworks are permitted in addition to hours during the day that fireworks are allowed. I am not against the use of fireworks, but believe that there needs to be a respect factor in using them.
Sgt. R. Raska:
The new law is causing additional grief for dispatch and our county night patrol. I used to love this time of year until I became a police officer and began to respond to all the fireworks complaints. I’m hoping some of the noise problems will begin to subside but we know that there are still issues. We are still trying to enforce the Twp. Noise Ordinances
My dogs, ages 14 and 10, get very skittish with fireworks, and the 10 year old, who is 95 lbs, will try to hide anywhere she can.
They both pace and drool, and it takes a while to calm them. It is wrong for people and animals to have to be terrorized by this kind of behavior. Toxic levels of noise and a flash of light…Wooo, that’s fascinating and so important
It was late in the evening, around 11:30 PM. Our one year old Corgi, Cooper whined at the back door to go out. I opened the door, Cooper stepped out onto the porch and the back yard lit up like flood lights had been turned on, followed immediately by three loud booms that sounded like cannon fire. Cooper ran back into the house and went from room to room trying to find a place to hide. Thankfully the fireworks stopped and we were able to get Cooper to sit with us, but he stayed at our feet the rest of the night.
The next night it started up again, after 11 PM and Cooper was so scared he was literally vibrating! I don’t know how else to describe it. It was worse than shaking. It was a week before we could get him to back into the back yard again.” (This was in the fall)
Let alone it is horrible enough when they disrupt the sleep of everyone that has to work, and children who need to get up for school and have medical problems of their own.
We have a psychotic neighbor that takes great pleasure in setting off fireworks all hours of the day and night. He will stand at the fence line, maybe 30 or 40 feet from our bedroom window and throw them. Sometimes several banded together for more continuing noise. My daughter who sleeps inside from that bedroom window just turned 10 years old. She has PTSD from being molested. She is ADHD-OCD combined. She has high anxiety. She has mood disorders NOS. She has panic attacks. She now has signs of depression. And she is newly diagnosed with S.A.D.. This is not a child that needs to be awakend and scared from fireworks going off all hours of the night and day. And they don’t stop at dark, they continue sometimes at 2am.
We are also animal rescuers. We have fostered dogs for many years. Our latest fosters were abandoned with us because the rescue refused to pay for vet bills when they came down sick.
They were brought up from Georgia, a mom and 13 babies, all sick with Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Distemper. We ended up losing 8 of the babies, but not for lack of trying to save them.
We still have the mom and 3 babies, all classified now as special needs. The babies have no teeth enamel and will most likely lose them at a young age. One is nearly blind, the other 2 are showingearly signs of blindness in different stages. They have MAJOR fear issues. They are fine and happy inside our home and yard. However, noise is a very big fear. All kinds of noises.
Fireworks literally send them scrambling. Usually it is under my desk piled on top of each other trying to get as close to me as they can. The momma dog and one of my own seniors, are so absolutely terrified of the fireworks, they literally about shake out of their skin. To the point of vomiting. Have you ever seen a dog shake so bad and so hard, it makes them VOMIT? I have.
Repeatedly.You cannot drug a dog like that, because they would have to be in a constant state of being drugged. One never knows when someone will start in with fireworks. All they need to do is hear just ONE, and it is all over for them. They will not even attempt to go near the door to go outside to potty. At times, even the next morning, when it is over, they still will not go outside for fear of hearing more. Once the fireworks start up, they live in a constant fear. No dog should have to go through that, let alone rescued ones that were most likely abused to begin with.
The laws need to change. Michigan did just fine with the laws we had before making them legal all the time. We do not need them leaving the ground. Last year should have been proof enough of the weather conditions that exist around here. Dry conditions cause fires all to carelessly from fireworks. People need to be able to enjoy their homes with peace and quiet and be able to sleep which is impossible to do with the new law the way it is now. Michigan needs to take a stand and say NO MORE. We will NOT forgo our citizens for the sake of a few making more money.
I have fosters, plus my own pets. A few of my animals are special needs. One of my cats, Sheldon, is very special needs and very sensitive to loud noises. Last night my one neighbor set off 2 rounds of the BIG fireworks, Sheldon, has Hydrocephalus and Manx Syndrome and can’t walk. He is sensitive to loud noises and prone to seizures.
It also almost started a fight between my dogs when they started setting them off too. Whenever they set off fireworks, it drives my dogs nuts and they bark forever.
I sit in my bed holding on to my dogs to comfort them and hope they will be over with soon. You can not get away from them in my area. I went to a park in late afternoon (around the fourth of July) by Lake Michigan and some people were in the park shooting them in the dunes. I would be glad if I never heard them again.
On New Years Eve I held on to the (3) dogs again. I can see no need for them (fireworks) for anything.
Our two dogs were terrified by the nonstop assault they experienced last summer after the new law was enacted. They were very loud and they were not limited to the 4th of July time period. I called the township offices to complain and was told that very few people had called to complain so it must not be that much of a concern to others. I was against this law before it was even up for a vote in Lansing, and I am even more opposed to it now.
My Golden would hide under the bed, if she could get under it (she was a big girl). It was weird since she would stand perfectly still when a rifle went off next to her. She would just wait for the bird to drop. My Shepherd, 20% wolf, that is my logo for Alpha Mail, Inc loved to go to the Cherry Fest when the Blue Angels were there. He would look all over for them and then sit with a grin on his face to watch as they did their show.
Woofers on the Run:
“Our border collie mix gets quite nervous. i wish there were some limits to the fun, so we would at least know when to expect it.
We needed to purchase a carpet scrubber needless ta say…i don’t know how people can afford the fireworks and the amount they light off on a daily basis.
My 4 dogs are terrified of them, it isn’t a matter of leaving them home on the 4th, people in the neighborhood shoot them off too. Between 4 dogs and at least 150 pounds my lap is not big enough. My oldest 2 are 12 and get so worked up I am afraid they will have a heart attack.
I had made arrangements for a neighbor to let the dogs out late New Year’s Eve as I had a party to attend. Fireworks never even crossed my mind. We had an incident back around the 4th of July where Sam had gone to the bathroom all over the house, could not stop shaking on a nightly basis due to all of the noise from fireworks.
When I arrived at my friend’s house on NYE, I started hearing fireworks. My heart sank. Same was so ashamed after the 4th of July incident. My mind was preoccupied with worry as I knew he would be beside himself. Instead of celebrating a carefree, fun NYE, I had to worry that my poor, sweet baby was terrified. I thank you for your opposition to fireworks. One day/week of terror per year for Sam is enough. The new law is ridiculous!
My issue is the damage constant booms have done to my retired racing greyhound. She has gone from being completely normal to a dog with extreme anxiety. I don’t believe she will survive another season of this torture.
My local police department has been as helpful as the law allows but unfortunately we’ve been forced to go from a town that didn’t even allow sparklers to a war zone. My vet has tried many things with Goldie but the best we’ve come down to help her is xanax. I can give her up to 5 mg at a time. I wish it made her sleep through the fireworks but it doesn’t. I’ve spent well over a thousand dollars (once I added up all her bills). I tried to just thing about it one bill at a time.
Many townships cannot afford to police the fireworks situation, therefore they decide to not put bans in place leaving many with no peace and quiet and no way to stop the insanity. Also this law puts us in a very vicarious situation when we have to call the local sheriff department or police station. We have to file a complaint to have anything done. Sterling Heights Police Department saw a 401 percent increase in fireworks complaints between the weeks surrounding Independence Day in 2011 and 2012.
If you have any questions as to whether your township has bans/ordinances, call them. Michigan’s residents, pets and wildlife have been compromised for revenue. I have provided you with the email addresses of the Work Committee members, use them to air your issues with this law. Keep in mind they have not answered us as to what is being done, yet new firework retail stores are going up and remodel jobs on existing ones have been done. What information are they getting that the anti fireworks folks are not?
In Michigan we wait to be outside with our families and our pets in the summer, enjoy the peaceful evenings and warm days. Now we have to keep pets medicated and gauge when the noise from fireworks will begin. Walks in the woods are no longer stress relieving like they used to be. You tell me, is this the Michigan we want?