Fireworks on Canada Day, Halloween, and New Year’s cause problems for some people, including veterans and dog owners, in Greater Victoria. (Contributed/ Lindsey Blane)

Sound, light, smell of fireworks trigger veteran’s PTSD

Veteran and pet owner both ‘not too keen’ fireworks

Fireworks are a staple of New Year’s Eve celebrations around the world, but not everyone is a fan. A local veteran with PTSD and a dog-owner advocate both said banning the discharge of fireworks in Greater Victoria is virtually impossible and not necessarily desirable, but urge people not to set them off in their neighborhood.

READ ALSO: Midnight fireworks on New Year’s Eve called ‘selfish, incredibly intrusive’

Victoria, Esquimalt and Oak Bay have banned fireworks unless they are for large cultural celebrations, but Saanich and Langford approve permits for residents if they apply and have completed a fireworks-related safety course. Municipalities also regulate when, where, and why fireworks are permitted to be discharged.

Stephane Marcotte, a navy veteran who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), said he’s “not too keen” on fireworks because it affects him and his service dog. Marcotte served 28 years in the navy as a marine engineer, and 18 of those years on a submarine. During that time he said he experienced fires, floods, being shot at for training exercises, and was once trapped in a fire.

“Even just talking about it, I’m shaking,” Marcotte said. He said the noise, light, and smell from fireworks take him right back to the head space he was in when he experienced the traumatic events that contributed to his PTSD. He said when there are fireworks he gets in bed and stays there or goes down to the basement and puts on some music.

“If they do fireworks, do it in a specific place where we know it’s happening,” suggests Marcotte. He said impromptu fireworks are not helpful for the many veterans who live in Greater Victoria and don’t expect to hear what might sound like gunfire to them from the comfort of their home.

READ MORE: In the news: LifeLabs lawsuit and no fireworks as fires rage in Australia

Mark Hawkes, president of dog-owner advocacy group Citizen Canine, said pet owners benefit when they know the fireworks are coming so they can take steps to protect their animals. He suggests trying to drown out the sound with music or trying to desensitize pets by quietly playing firework or gunshot sounds while giving them treats to reinforce the desirable behavior, and increasing the sound gradually.

“It’s clearly a huge problem for dog owners,” Hawkes said. “You hear horror stories of pets that have hurt or even killed themselves because they’re so scared and they just want to get away.”

Hawkes lives near Butchart Gardens, which he said means he’s forced to stay home every Saturday during the summer when the fireworks are on to make sure one of his two border collies is OK.

“It’s tough, we don’t really need fireworks, but I love fireworks. I have since I was young. I do sympathize with people who like fireworks,” Hawkes said. “The biggest concern is when people are using them indiscriminately in the neighborhood when you’re not home.”

Hawkes also said he is concerned about the welfare of local wildlife when fireworks are discharged, a concern shared on Twitter by local Donna.


Like us on Facebook and follow @yrlocaljourno

sophie.heizer@saanichnews.com

Fireworksptsd

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Baby raccoon rescued from 10-foot deep Saanich drainage pipe

‘Its cries were loud, pitiful and heartbreaking,’ Saanich animal control officer says

Police respond to successful Facebook scam on Oak Bay resident

Petty thievery in King George Terrace where plants, gargoyle are missing

Victoria Clipper suspends services through April 2021

International travel restrictions, COVID-19 uncertainty lead to decision

Oak Bay News celebrates community with photospread

Share your images for a chance to win a gift card

B.C. records 62 new COVID-19 cases, two deaths since Friday

Province has just over 200 active cases

Port Alberni will have a salmon derby on Labour Day after all

Alberni Valley Tyee Club reveals ‘socially distanced’ derby only for Labour Day 2020

Hotel rooms for B.C. homeless too hasty, NDP government told

Businesses forced out, but crime goes down, minister says

Suspicious fire quenched before reaching gunpowder in Nanaimo’s historic Bastion

Probe underway in basement blaze that erupted near where powder stored to fire signature cannons

Duncan model makes quarter finals in ‘Maxim’ magazine contest

Brandee Peart among top one per cent left in competition

Wage subsidy will be extended until December amid post-COVID reopening: Trudeau

Trudeau said the extension will ‘give greater certainty and support to businesses’

B.C. government prepares for COVID-19 economic recovery efforts

New measures after July consultation, Carole James says

Fisherman snags barracuda off Vancouver Island in rare encounter

Ferocious fish, not native to Canada, was netted and released in Alberni Inlet

Most Read