An Aberdeen councillor has slammed “selfish and irresponsible individuals” after a horse lost an eye when it was hit with a firework on Bonfire Night.
Dettori was one of several horses spooked by a large display close to his field at a livery yard in Countesswells on Thursday night.
The owner of the yard was alerted when the horses trampled down a fence during the loud noises and discovered that Dettori’s eye had been severely damaged.
Dettori could face being put to sleep, such is the severity of his injuries – but his owners are now hoping the 21-year-old horse will be fit enough to undergo the operation needed to save him.
Aberdeen City councillor Martin Greig, whose ward includes Countesswells, said: “This is a really sad and distressing case of animal cruelty.
“I am extremely sorry for this beautiful creature. This terrible incident shows how dangerous fireworks are.
“Someone’s foolish moment of excitement has caused a lifetime of serious injury. The harm could have been even worse – possibly fatal.
“It’s profoundly sad that there are selfish, irresponsible individuals going around in the area.
“We have so many vulnerable pets and animals living in the community and it is a worry to think how vulnerable they are to acts of thoughtless people.”
Charley Taylor, 21, who has owned Dettori for 10 years with her mum Debbie Walker, said: “No animal deserves this. We are distraught about what has happened.
“Both me and my mum feel it is important to share the message about why fireworks are so dangerous, especially when they are used recklessly.”
Former rescue horse Dettori, named after the legendary Italian jockey Frankie Dettori, was not well treated when he was younger and it took time him a long time to build up trust with Charley and Debbie.
Since the incident on Thursday night, he has been uncharacteristically frightened.
Charley, a management and marketing student at Robert Gordon University, said: “He’s not usually a spooky horse but he’s quite frightened at anything going off now.
“He is doing better than the first night. He has a bandage over his eye and hopefully he gets used to having only one eye.
“The vet is coming back on Monday to see if he’s still really stressed and traumatised. If he is, it’s not fair to put him through more surgery if he doesn’t think he’ll adapt to it.
“If that happens he will have to be put down.”
‘The worst year ever for fireworks’
Last week, Scotland’s chief fire officer Martin Blundell warned of the “life-changing consequences” of misusing fireworks ahead of Bonfire Night.
Despite the warning, Debbie believes this year’s celebrations were louder and more dangerous than ever.
The 55-year-old, who runs Aberdeen cleaning company Debbie Dazzles, said: “I was amazed at the amount of fireworks that were going off on Thursday.
“A lot of people I have spoken to said this was the worst year ever for the amount going off. I’ve never heard it as loud as I did then.
“I know people have been cooped up all year and you can’t blame them for wanting to have a bit of fun, but I think they should be banned from being publicly sold.”
Charley and Debbie set up a GoFundMe page after numerous people reached out to them in the wake of the incident, offering to pay for Dettori’s treatment.
His vet estimates surgery would cost around £1,000 and further medication between £200 and £300.
More than £13,000 has been raised on their fundraising page.
The mother and daughter pair have pledged to donate all the money raised beyond the cost of Dettori’s vet bill.
The donations will be split evenly between the Scottish SPCA and World Horse Welfare, which runs a rescue and rehoming farm in Aboyne.
Charley added: “People have been so supportive. We’ve even had people in touch who have horses that have lost an eye, reassuring us that Dettori will be OK without one of his.
“It’s been awful but we’re so thankful to the manager at his yard who found him. With the amount of stress he was under, we don’t know if he would have made it through the night if he hadn’t been found.”
Police said they were looking into the incident.
A spokeswoman said: “Around 9.45pm on November 5, we received reports that a horse had been injured within a field on Blacktop Road in Countesswells.
“Officers attended and inquiries are ongoing to establish if any crime has been committed.”
‘The bang from a firework is terrifying to an animal’
Upcoming changes to the law in Scotland will make it harder for people to buy fireworks for private celebrations.
People will soon require safety training, have to pay a fee and say where and when they will be used under new plans from the Scottish Government.
Community safety minister Ash Denham approved the implementation of recommendations from a review group last week that is expected to create a “fundamental shift” in the way people use and buy fireworks.
Ahead of this year’s Bonfire Night, it was hoped they might use emergency powers to temporarily ban the home use of fireworks after many public displays were scrapped to help prevent further spread of coronavirus.
Scottish SPCA chief superintendent Mike Flynn said his animal welfare charity were aware of numerous incidents over the years where animals have died or been seriously injured because of fireworks being set off near them.
He said: “Animals have heightened senses and their hearing is much stronger than ours.
“The bang from a firework is terrifying to an animal and some will panic and flee at the sound, which can result in road traffic accidents.
“We have even received reports of swans flying into electricity pylons and horses being badly injured after running through barbed wire fences.
“Fireworks have a negative effect on many people and animals across the country and we would ask that members of the public take this into consideration if they are planning a fireworks display and show respect for people, their environment and any animals, domestic, farm and wild, that might be in the area.”
Local Area Commander for Aberdeen City North, Chief Inspector Darren Bruce said: “Our thoughts are with Dettori. We are working with the owner and those participating in the display. The intention was never to harm and unfortunately, the result has had tragic consequences for the animal.
“Although safety measures had been taken, animals whether near to a display or at some distance can be impacted and become distressed.
“Every year, police, SFRS and community safety groups emphasise the importance of Firework safety and would urge that where possible, all steps are taken.
“At this time, our inquiries are ongoing”.
Anyone with information in relation to this incident can contact Police by phone on 101 or via the Police Scotland website.