Eve Battle | Valencia (EFE).- Dogs traditionally live a month of March in Valencia “with terror” and in almost warlike conditions due to the uninterrupted shooting, for days and nights, in Fallas of thousands of firecrackers of all kinds and intensity, but this year the City Council has proposed to give a “truce” to improve their quality of life.
The College of Veterinarians of Valencia especially values the recommendation -which is not a prohibition- in the Fallas side this year not to shoot fireworks between 3:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. to facilitate dog walking on the street, which it proposes to extend, at least , in two daily sections and greater compliance with non-launch night timetables.
The veterinarian, ethologist and member of the Animal Welfare commission of the Valencia College of Veterinarians (ICOVV) Marina Miralles thanks, in a conversation with EFE, the sensitivity of the Fallas collective and the Valencia City Council towards these animals, which are living the period of You fail with “true terror, because for them it is as if they were living through a war”.
“From the College we had not yet taken any steps but we had in mind to propose to the Fallas commissions that a couple of times a day they not throw firecrackers”, not only because of the dogs but so that other very sensitive groups, such as autistic children, in some time of the day they could go out, says Miralles.
A “true drama”
Animals that have a phobia of firecrackers, he explains, reach the point of not eating, not urinating, hiding somewhere in the house, trembling, panting… “A real drama,” he says, which leads their owners to even have to give them drug treatments.
“For them it is as if a war situation were taking place, of falling bombs, because they don’t know what it is, and strong explosions are something that is naturally frightening because it is seen as a danger”, he recounts.
The expert explains that there are dogs that do not have problems in Fallas, others that have a moderate fear and can manage it well at low intensity, and others that have “real phobia”, which are the ones that really have a hard time, even if they are in the interior of the houses.
Some Fallas that begin at the end of February
Miralles indicates that the problem in the city of Valencia is that the festivities are not reduced to a week but rather begin at the end of February, with the first mascletaes and the first fireworks displays, and from March 1 to 19 you can already throwing firecrackers down the street, something that, on weekends, turns the city into endless explosions, sometimes of very high intensity.
The owners, he points out, choose to go out at odd hours, which is when there are options to find fewer firecrackers, or to resort, through specialists, to the use of psychotropic drugs and anxiolytics, accompanied by environmental management measures, such as isolating them from the environment. noise, short and tied walks and try not to leave them alone.
In cases of more moderate fear, precise, one can also opt for natural products combined with nutritional supplements.
“There have been cases of dogs that, given the panic caused by the firecrackers, have jumped out the window trying to escape the situation” if their owners were not at home, laments the veterinarian.
Dogs with three months without walking due to trauma
But the problem does not occur only during the long twenty days of the Fallas festivities. Miralles assures that he has treated cases of animals that “have really been very blocked after some Fallas and after three months they still do not want to walk because they have associated the street with fear.”
In the medium or long term, specialists treat the most serious cases of fear with “counterconditioning” measures, that is, associating a negative situation with a positive stimulus such as food or play; and “systematic desensitization, in which the intensity is adapted to the dog’s level of fear, “but it is very difficult to work with phobias of loud noises, which are what cause firecrackers, thunder or shots”.
Miralles appreciates the sensitivity of the Fallas world towards the problem suffered by dogs in Fallas, and also cats, he specifies, “the great forgotten ones”, although they know how to hide and do not need to leave home.
The ideal for dogs in Fallas, a couple of moments a day to go out
He considers that “the ideal” for dogs in Fallas would be that there be “a couple of moments a day” so that they can at least leave the house twice, and “that beyond the recommendation there would be more and more compliance and monitoring.”
The fallas side restricts the use, by individuals, of recreational pyrotechnic products or firecrackers, from March 11 to 19 between 02:00 and 07:30, and on March 20 from 00:00.
This first measure, that of establishing two hours without firecrackers that facilitates the release of dogs into the street, “is an important first step so that there are no people conditioned to having to leave the city directly,” Miralles thanks.