WHILE New Year’s revellers partied the night away, staff at SPCA branches around the province were working tirelessly to help pets traumatised by firework displays. Alistair Sinclair, of the Pietermaritzburg SPCA, said, “I have never witnessed explosions like what we saw here. We couldn’t keep up. The phones were ringing off the hook. We are still running around.” He added that while he and his staff had managed to catch 12 panicked pets, others had run off, “too terrified”. Some of those still on the streets may return home, but the SPCA will still try and catch any pets they can. Sinclair said they had treated numerous injured pets that had been trying to escape from their yards and enclosures in total panic. The injuries had mostly been lacerations, but one cat had a broken paw. “I cannot understand how people can sleep at night when they know they have profiteered off the suffering of animals. I have never heard anything like the horrific bangs. People are just not thinking when they let off these bombs.” Sinclair said that the kennels in Woodhouse Road, Scottsville, were full and that they had to open one block of kennels which was not in use to house strays. “It’s been strange, because the fireworks have been going off for the past two weeks.” He said at the SPCA, they had tranquilised all the animals there on New Year’s Eve, but due to the loud explosions, animals had still been very distressed. “They howl and bark. It’s panicked screaming.” At the Kloof and Highway SPCA, fundraising manager Barbara Laubscher said that every stand-by kennel at their premises in Village Road, Kloof, was currently housing two dogs. Staff have also been forced to make use of the donation lockers and SPCA vehicles to house animals traumatised by fireworks in the upper Highway area. Yesterday the facility was open until 11 am to allow staff to try and reunite dogs with tags and microchips with their owners. But many had no identification and with people away on holiday, it may take days for the SPCA to get them safely back home. “We have also had a stream of animal owners coming in today trying to find their lost pets,” Laubscher said, adding, “and a few pet sitters have been coming in, really worried because the dogs they have been looking after are missing.” She said concerned owners needed to report their animals missing and come to the SPCA, which is open from 8 am to 4 pm today, to see if their animals are in the kennels. Alternatively, concerned owners can call the emergency number 073 335 9322, out of hours. A spokesperson for Howick’s uMngeni SPCA said staff worked through the night to pick up animals traumatised by firework displays in the midlands town on New Year’s Eve. Other animals were left at their premises at 15 Campbell Road, and the influx meant that their kennels were full. Staff manning the emergency line at the Durban and Coast SPCA in Inanda Road said they had received numerous calls from people worried about their pets. The festive season is a difficult time for the animal welfare charity and not just because of fireworks. “People go on holiday and may only ask someone to check on their animals every now and again, so they may not even know their pets are missing,” Laubscher explained. Laubscher said SPCA branches around the province would welcome donations of food and blankets to help them house and feed the animals in their care.