Ban on goldfish being given away as prizes

THE Vale of Glamorgan Council is the latest local authority in Wales to ban giving away pets as prizes.

This refers chiefly to goldfish given away as prizes at fairs and carnivals.

Including the Vale council there are five councils in Wales that have banned this practice – Newport City Council, Caerphilly County Borough Council, Wrexham County Borough Council and Conwy County Borough Council.

The RSPCA is running a campaign to have the practice banned called #NoFunatTheFair as they fear the summer will see more goldfish given as prizes as fairs.

Goldfish used for prizes can suffer greatly in the conditions they are kept in.

In the plastic bags they are kept in goldfish can suffer from oxygen deprivation and stress and a change in temperature could kill them.

RSPCA Cymru’s public affairs manager, Chris O’Brien, said: “With Covid restrictions now completely eased in Wales, there’s a real risk that the giving of goldfish as prizes will return in big numbers as funfairs and festivals resume. 

“We’re delighted that nearly a quarter of local authorities in Wales have banned the practice on their land already – but RSPCA Cymru will keep campaigning until this practice is consigned to the history books.

“Animal ownership is a big responsibility – and goldfish shouldn’t be acquired via a spur-of-the-moment game.

“Goldfish are easily stressed and very often fish that are won as prizes suffer miserably from shock, oxygen starvation or die from changes in water temperature, and many may die before their new owners can even get them home.

“They’re misunderstood pets – as they can make great companions; but can actually be challenging to look after and new owners must do their research before they acquire the fish, not afterwards.

“When bringing a fish home for the first time, it’s important to set the tank up at least two weeks in advance to make sure it’s all running smoothly, and this just isn’t possible for someone who’s won a fish without being prepared for it.”

The practice is already banned in Scotland, but it is legal in England and Wales to give pets as prizes to children under 16 if they are accompanied by an adult.

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Ruba Sivagnanam, the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s cabinet member for community engagement, equalities and regulatory services, said: “Giving animals away as prizes is completely inappropriate and, as a council, we support the RSPCA’s stance that this practice should be stopped.

“To that end, we do not allow any event that offers animals as prizes to take place on council land.

“The council takes animal welfare very seriously.

“I would discourage anyone to become involved in events where animals are prizes.

“Please consider reporting the matter to the RSPCA.”

In October 2019, the Welsh Government said “a separate piece of work” would happen on pets as prizes, but this is yet to occur.

RSPCA Cymru worked with campaigner Holly Homer, who submitted a petition calling for a ban to the Welsh Parliament’s Petitions Committee that recieved 2,416 signatures.

The charity is again asking supporters to join the campaign to end pets as prizes on their website – last year 9,192 people in England and Wales got involved.

Mr O’Brien said: “There’s huge momentum behind the RSPCA campaign – last year thousands of people supported us in this campaign and we’re over the moon to see nearly a quarter of local authorities in Wales already pass the RSPCA’s notice of motion on this issue.

“With new councillors in place across Wales following May’s election, we hope many more will join them to make our counties even safer places for animals to live.

“We hope this summer our supporters will help us  spread the message further and encourage local authorities to ban the giving of pets as prizes on their land.

“But ultimately, we need to see action nationally too. The Welsh Government suggested in 2019 they’d be keen to look at this issue – and we hope the momentum behind local bans on council land will demonstrate the need for a nationwide ban too, on all land.”

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