Urjita Vartak, 15, has decided not to burst firecrackers this year. Vartak, a student of Jamnabai Narsee School, Juhu, has six dogs at her Virar home, and cannot bear to see the trauma they go through every year, due to the loud sounds and bright lights that crackers inevitably bring with them.
“A few years ago, one of my dogs went running towards a firecracker. A stray cracker caused serious injury to his ear, and he had to be hospitalised,.
Like Vartak, for thousands of pet owners in the city, the festival of lights is a dark time. Animals are particularly sensitive to the loud sounds made by bombs and rockets exploding relentlessly, and they exhibit symptoms of anxiety such as uncontrollable shivering, nausea and loss of appetite.
Owners say that though they have tried several strategies to deal with the menace, none have provided complete relief to their pets, as it is impossible to shut out the sound entirely.
Aditi Tralshawala, 23, lives in a house full of pets — two dogs and three cats. While each pet has a different reaction to firecrackers, they are all averse to them. “My dogs go into a frenzy, stop eating or drinking water, and stick to the family members. We all stay at home during the festival because our pets would get too insecure if we did not,” said the Cuffe Parade resident. “My cats are equally uncomfortable. They hide in cupboards and refuse to come out till the noise dies out.”
Tralshawala added that the only time her pets were at ease is was when they were taken out of town, to her family’s vacation home in a quiet part of Pune. In fact, families are opting to take pets on a vacation, to a farmhouse of a specialised canine resort, to help them avoid the stress. With a spate of kennels and shelters springing up around the city, this has becoming a viable alternative.