Calls to reduce sale of fireworks following collie’s tragic death

Shearer's heartbroken owners Marjorie Bourke and Stephen Scott.
 Picture by Jane Coltman
Shearer's heartbroken owners Marjorie Bourke and Stephen Scott. Picture by Jane Coltman

Fresh calls are being made to reduce the days fireworks can be sold to the general public after a much-loved family pet tragically died.

Shearer, a nine-year-old collie, went missing on October 17, after being frightened by a group setting off fireworks near St Mary’s Island.

The black and white dog had been out with Stephen Scott for nearly half an hour on The Links and Whitley Bay beach when the group of ‘boy racers’ set off the fireworks, with more being set off near the Dome, resulting in Shearer running off along the beach and out of sight.

After a frantic search which went viral on social media, his body was washed up on Redcar beach on Monday.

Now Stephen is calling for fireworks to be sold for 10 days of the year around Bonfire Night and New Year’s Eve.

Stephen, of Whitley Bay, said: “It was really horrible.

“Shearer was a well trained dog, he had his gold awards from the Kennel Club. We had been out for about 20 minutes playing with his ball when this group turned up and suddenly set off what looked like exhibition fireworks.

“Shearer was running along the beach towards the Dome when he got frightened and turned left instead of right, unfortunately.

“He was a much-loved pet.

“I used to take him fishing with me for a couple of days at a time. He used to love that, and got excited when he saw me in the garage loading the car.”

“I used to take him away when the fireworks took place on the Links so he wouldn’t be spooked.”

Stephen added: “If we restrict the days fireworks can be set off, then pet owners can be prepared. This was just out of the blue.

“As soon as the darker nights come in, you have to be careful with your dogs.”

And after a poll on the News Guardian website, 92 per cent of readers backed calls for a total ban on the sale of fireworks to the general public, urging people to only attend organised displays.

Stephen has also taken some comfort from all the messages he has received both during the search and since the tragic news broke, with people from as far afield as America, Dubai and Australia getting in touch, while flowers and cards have been sent to him and his mother Marjorie Bourke.

He said: “It gives me comfort knowing people are thinking about us and leaving messages.

“I really appreciate it. I have seen the messages on Facebook but it upsets me reading them, in a nice way. I will get back to them in a week or two but I can’t at the minute.”

A ‘Help Find Shearer Whitley Bay’ page was set up on Facebook, and that will now be kept open to help others who have lost their dogs.

The page was created by Samantha Gardner, who Stephen had contacted the night Shearer went missing.

Stephen said: “I accidentally came across Sam and asked if she could help. She then set up the page and it went viral.

“We met her for the first time on Tuesday as she wanted to see my mother.

“I didn’t know her before this but think it will be a lifelong friendship, now. I can’t thank her enough.

“We’re going to keep the page open to try and help other people in the same situation as it will happen again if something isn’t done about it.”

The page is also helping raise the profile of the Border Collie Rescue Trust, with a JustGiving page set up for anyone who wants to make a donation.

An online petition has also been set up calling on the Government to reduce the days fireworks can be sold. It can be found at www.change.org/p/theresa-may-stop-random-back-garden-firework-use