In light of the firework displays that many people eagerly look forward to, during 4th of July, PETA has been urging everyone to keep animals safe. Thankfully, some states have cancelled fireworks. In the USA, every Independence Day, an increasing number of animals flee from their shelters in order to escape from the surrounding noise. Many of them even end up injured or dead while trying to run. The scene is no different in India, especially during Diwali, the Festival of Lights.
Just like human beings suffer from post-traumatic stress disorders due to nightmarish incidents experienced recently or even during childhood, animals go through the same as well. In fact, several instances have testified that most of the service dogs sent to conflict-torn countries like Iraq and Afghanistan become more aggressive and exhibit inconsistent behavior.
Additionally, many researchers and scholars have documented PTSD symptoms in chimpanzees, parrots and elephants as well. However, the symptoms differ from animal to animal. While some pluck their feathers or lick their tails as a means of calming themselves, others are also known to self-harm. The consequence can even go as far as leading to genetic damage.
Thus, what can people do to protect animals from falling victim to such stressful events or help them to heal?
- Keep your pets at home if there are fireworks or intense noise outside. It is advised not to keep them chained as they can hang themselves while they make an attempt to flee.
- If your pet is already suffering from PTSD or similar conditions, try exposing it to a safe and non-threatening environment gradually over time. This is said to ‘desensitize’ the stimulus of animals.
- Experts also cites counter-conditioning as a means to help animals cure PTSD. This means, rewarding them with treats or toys, each time your pet successfully gets comfortable with a new environment.
- However, if none of the measures work, consulting an expert may be the best way to go.