Caerphilly Councillors have voted unanimously to ban the giving of pets as prizes on land controlled by the local authority.
RSPCA Cymru has called it “great news for animal welfare, particularly goldfish” – as the Council becomes only the second in Wales to introduce a ban, and the first to make such a public stance on the issue.
A motion to full council was brought forward by Cllr James Pritchard, who has spearheaded this issue in recent months with his fellow Councillors. It was passed unanimously on Wednesday evening (23 October).
Giving animals as prizes can be detrimental to the animals’ welfare. Many will die before getting back to their new homes, or shortly after; and winning an animal via a game actively encourages owners to take on pets in a spontaneous, ill-planned manner.
Between 2014, and 2018, 24 incidents were reported to the RSPCA in Wales concerning the welfare of animals being given as prizes – of which 60% related to goldfish.
Goldfish can easily become stressed, and fish that are won as prizes often suffer miserably from shock, oxygen starvation and changes to water temperature due to their unsuitable environment.
Chris O’Brien, RSPCA public affairs and media manager, said: “RSPCA Cymru is absolutely delighted that Caerphilly Councillors unanimously backed such an important motion.
“This is great news for animal welfare, particularly goldfish – which are the pet most commonly given as prizes, and often see their welfare detrimentally impacted as a result.
“Goldfish can make fantastic pets – but, like other animals, adding them to the family should be a well researched and carefully considered decision.
“They need an aquarium or tank with a filter, which would ideally need to be set up and run for at least two weeks before any fish are added – yet it is unlikely someone being landed with a fish as a result of a game will have this equipment, or have given their new responsibilities to that animal much thought.
“Caerphilly Councillors have made a clear statement today that pets aren’t prizes – but companions. We now call on other local authorities in Wales to follow Caerphilly and take similar action and to help bring this practice to an end.”
It will now be illegal to give pets as prizes on land controlled by the Council. This follows reports of goldfish being given as prizes in the local area.
Caerphilly Council also resolved to write to the Welsh Government to ask them to implement an outright ban across the country on the giving of live animals as prizes on both public and private land.
The support of full Council followed unanimous support from the Council’s Environment and Sustainability Scrutiny Committee, at which RSPCA Cymru gave evidence alongside Cllr Pritchard.
Cllr Pritchard added: “People I’ve spoken to in Caerphilly are aghast the practice of giving pets as prizes isn’t already banned – so it was really important for me to work with RSPCA Cymru to deliver this change.
“While the law is more robust in Scotland, for example, sadly we still see many goldfish and other animals suffer when given as prizes in Wales.
“Here in Caerphilly, I’m proud we have now taken a firm stand and used the power at our disposal, and also urged the Welsh Government to deliver change in this area across Wales.”