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Fireworks for sale (copy)

Some of the fireworks for sale inside Tim Petersen's Flashing Thunder store in Forest City. Fireworks are not permitted to be set off inside Winnebago County parks.

A puddle.

That's how I'd describe my dog after more than three weeks of nightly explosions.

Around dusk, the pops start. The flashes overhead build in frequency until around 10 p.m. before tapering off.

By then, Hector, my 3-year-old heeler/shepherd mix, is trembling under a table or bed.

It's become near impossible to take my poor mutt outside to relieve himself. His ears are up. His tail is straight out. His head is on a swivel.

Then a "bang" leaves him leaping, crying and pulling at his run. He can't get inside fast enough, back to his bunker for more shivering, panting and whining. More often than not, he won't even complete the task. He'd rather hold it until the next morning.

Fireworks are legal now in Iowa, after the GOP-run Legislature killed a decades-old ban on them. Booths have popped up on street corners throughout Davenport and Bettendorf. In all their wisdom, lawmakers decided that not one, but five weeks was an acceptable time frame for legal usage leading up to Independence Day.

It's just too much.

Predictably, many buyers aren't heeding state law's limitation restricting use fireworks anyway. I've been startled and awakened more than once by an explosion well after the 10 p.m. deadline.

They went on sale. They started exploding. And they'll continue to do so throughout the summer, I suspect, as a few well-stocked bad actors ignore the July 8 state deadline.

Make no mistake: I'm not anti-firework. Nor am I a blind follower of the nanny state and its incessant health and safety warnings.

I, too, had that relative who got off on smuggling fireworks into New York. Explosions are exhilarating. The risk of injury only adds to the excitement. I get it.

But every single night, it sounds like a war movie is being filmed in my neighborhood in central Davenport. The same can apparently be said in McClellan Heights. Fireworks were the topic du jour this past weekend while I visited friends in the affluent part of town.

One woman directed me to the McClellan Heights smartphone app after griping about how destructive her dogs are during a firework-induced panic. The app is a digital town hall of sorts. And it's flush with people venting about what the nightly fusillade is doing to their pets. Some are trapping their dogs in the basement. Others are devising strategies of their own to shelter pets from the colorful explosions encircling their homes.

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I'm no bleeding heart animal rights advocate. I love beef. I hunt. I scoff at the arrogance of Westerners who jet off to Asia to shame the locals for putting dogs on the menu.

It's been eons since humans started shaping wolves into the pets we know today. Throughout, dogs have endured war, famine and every other distinctly human plight. On that grand geological scale, mine is a minor complaint.

But, like most pet owners, I've bonded with my dog. He and I share that connection only found among social mammals.

He's suffering right now, a fact that frustrates me.

Iowa's sudden and rushed legalization of consumer-grade fireworks is affecting lives. And my social media feed says Iowa's legal rush-job is spilling into Illinois, too, where consumer-grade fireworks remain illegal.

Quad-City local governments, granted only a few weeks by the Legislature, couldn't respond in time with ordinances. Those in Iowa that have drafted regulation now face court challenges from the fireworks industry. Plus, local officials have shown little interest in even enforcing the regulations outlined within the state law. Hopefully, Davenport next year follows Muscatine's lead and bans the use of fireworks until July 1 instead of the state's June 1 start date. Eight days is one thing. Five weeks is another.

Fireworks are a nightly ritual and have been from the moment they went on sale earlier this month. I have little doubt that some of those who stocked up will continue firing until their magazines are spent.

And they'll do it without once considering just how their actions are affecting the lives of everyone around them.

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