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)

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

An Extinction Rebellion Vancouver Island (XRVI) climate change event in 2019 saw a large crowd occupy the Johnson Street bridge. Black Press File Photo
Extinction Rebellion activists march from Vancouver to Victoria this weekend

The four-day trek ends at the B.C. legislature Monday, protest province’s environmental policy

A rider crosses a “skinny” on the newly opened trail known as 90s Jank, built within the Hartland system by volunteers with the South Island Mountain Bike Society. (Youtube/MTB Matt)
Mountain bikers celebrate first new trail in years on Saanich’s Mount Work

90s Jank trail a product of licence agreement between CRD and mountain bike society

The hiring of out-of-province workers by the Canadian Red Cross to staff the vaccination centre in Langford has raised eyebrows. (Black Press Media file photo)
Red Cross hires out-of-province workers to staff Langford vaccination centre

Staffer worries local jobs weren’t offered to local people

A weekend of sunny skies may have Victoria breaking temperature records, according to an Environment Canada meteorologist. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
Temperature records eyed for Victoria with sunny weekend forcast

Victoria hit the highest April 14 temperature since 1926 on Wednesday

Fire crews respond to the 3500-block of Blanshard Street in Saanich on April 16. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
UPDATED: BC Hydro crews repairing failed electrical equipment in Saanich

Vernon Avenue reopen to traffic following closure

Rainbow trouts thrashing with life as they’re about to be transferred to the largest lake of their lives, even though it’s pretty small. These rainbows have a blue tinge because they matched the blue of their hatchery pen, but soon they’ll take on the green-browns of their new home at Lookout Lake. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
VIDEO: Lookout Lake stocked with hatchery trout to delight of a seniors fishing club

The Cherish Trout Scouts made plans to come back fishing soon

For Leela Harrop, the recent death of her brother Raju Tiwari pushed her to sign up for the vaccine. Photo supplied
Island woman on fence about vaccine prompted by brother’s death

Leela Harrop of Comox says she did have issues with signing up online this past week

Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. (Dave Eagles/Kamloops This Week file photo)
RCMP intercept vehicle fleeing with infant taken from Kamloops hospital

The baby was at the hospital receiving life-saving care

Vancouver Police Const. Deepak Sood is under review by the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. after making comments to a harm reduction advocate Sunday, April 11. (Screen grab)
VIDEO: Vancouver officer convicted of uttering threats under watchdog review again

Const. Deepak Sood was recorded Sunday saying ‘I’ll smack you’ and ‘go back to selling drugs’ to a harm reduction advocate

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate persists, 1,005 new cases Friday

Hospitalization up to 425, six more virus-related deaths

The Nautical Dog Cafe at Skaha marina is getting its patio ready in hopes Mother Nature will provide where provincial restrictions have taken away indoor dining. (Facebook)
‘A lot of instability’: B.C. restaurants in layoff limbo

As COVID-19 cases stay high, restaurants in British Columbia are closed to indoor dining

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Expectations high as Trudeau Liberals get ready to unveil first pandemic budget

The Liberals will look to thread an economic needle with Monday’s budget

John Furlong, Own The Podium board chairman and former CEO of the Vancouver Olympics, addresses a Vancouver Board of Trade luncheon in Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday November 25, 2015.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
John Furlong presents 2030 Winter Games vision to Vancouver Board of Trade

Vancouver and Whistler would remain among host sites because of 2010 sport venues still operational

Photo by Metro Creative Connection
New campgrounds coming to B.C. parks as part of $83M provincial boost

This season alone, 185 campsites are being added to provincial parks, says Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Most Read