An animal shelter is pleading with people to reconsider garden firework displays a horse in their care died last year following the stress and noise of Bonfire night.

Popkei the horse died at Hopefield Animal Sanctuary, home to over 500 rescued animals, last November.

He had been poorly for a while and had been diagnosed earlier in the year with heart failure – sanctuary workers believe the stress and noise of fireworks night was what caused his death.

Animals have very acute hearing and are more sensitive than humans to loud bangs and whistles.

“Despite vets saying he could pass away at any moment, he fought through, and would run out to the field most mornings with his best friend, Shandy”, a spokesperson for the sanctuary said.

“Tragically, over the weekend, after consecutive evenings of local residents launching fireworks, the stress took its toll on Popkei.”

Popkei, a Friesian horse, died on Guy Fawkes Night, November 5.

It is believed Friesian horses were used in battle by knights in medieval Europe due to their size, strength and agility.

Now the sanctuary, based in Sawyers Hall Lane, Brentwood, has launched a campaign to dissuade residents from setting off fireworks in their gardens.

Concerns have been raised that the cancellation of many large-scale events this year may cause a rise in amateur firework displays being put on in gardens and streets.

Fireworks are a key part of seasonal celebrations, however 40 per cent of pet owners say their pet is scared of fireworks, according to the charity PDSA

A spokesperson for the sanctuary added: “Under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, it is an offence if a) an act of his, or a failure of his to act, causes an animal to suffer; b) he knew, or ought reasonably to have known, that the act, or failure to act, would have that effect or be likely to do so; c) the animal is a protected animal, and d) the suffering is unnecessary.

“The offence can carry a fine of up to £20,000 and/or a prison term of up to six months. And it’s not just livestock – thousands of animals up and down the country are petrified of the loud explosions, including dogs, cats and not to mention our native wildlife.”

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