As Bonfire Night approaches, please spare a thought for the animals and birds who may be terrified by the deafening crashes and blinding flashes of fireworks.

Traumatised dogs are rushed to vets for emergency treatment, sheep can spontaneously abort, horses gallop into fences and rabbits have been known to die from shock.

Animal Aid believes fireworks should be sold only to organisers of public events and not to individuals wishing to set them off in their gardens or in the street.

A ban on sales to the general public would also prevent the cruelties reported every year of vicious individuals deliberately harming animals by tying fireworks to them.

We can minimise the impact by keeping cats and dogs indoors from the afternoon onwards, and bringing rabbits and guinea pigs inside or at least covering their home with a thick blanket to muffle the noise.

Also, please check that hedgehogs and other wild animals have not made a home in your bonfire before you light it.

Kate Fowler, Animal Aid