Councillors in Conwy have unanimously backed an RSPCA campaign to end the giving of pets as prizes on local authority land – while also taking action on the dangers fireworks can pose to local animals.

Animal welfare was firmly on the agenda at today’s (23 January) full meeting of Conwy County Borough Council, as Councillors voted on two motions – one concerning the giving of pets of prizes, and the other on a series of measures which aim to help protect animals

Councillors unanimously backed plans to end the giving of pets as prizes on land controlled by the local authority. They join Newport, Caerphilly and Wrexham Councils in banning the practice locally – on what the RSPCA has termed a “great day for animal welfare in Conwy, particularly goldfish”.

Between 2014, and 2018, some 24 incidents in Wales were reported to the RSPCA’s emergency line concerning the welfare of animals being given out as prizes – of which 60% related to goldfish.

RSPCA Cymru is calling on all local authorities in Wales to act on pets as prizes. The charity ultimately hopes the Welsh Government will implement a Wales-wide ban on the giving of pets as prizes on all land across the country – and Conwy Councillors also resolved to write to Welsh Ministers urging them to do this.

In addition, Councillors also spoke favourably about local authority action on fireworks, to ensure they can be enjoyed responsibly in the local area and minimise their risk to animals and vulnerable people.

The Council’s Economy and Place Overview Scrutiny Committee will now consider how the local authority can best ensure the risks posed by fireworks to animals are mitigated in the Conwy area – including publicising displays in advance so pet owners can be prepared, a public awareness campaign, and encouraging local suppliers of fireworks to stock ‘quieter’ fireworks for public display.

Conwy’s action follows the launch of the RSPCA’s #BangOutOfOrder campaign – which aims to make fireworks less frightening for animals, and highlights the challenges posed to pets, equines, farm animals and wildlife.

Lewis Clark, RSPCA public affairs adviser, said: “We’re delighted that local authorities in Wales are debating such important animal welfare topics – and discussions at Conwy this week show how important animal welfare is to local representatives and their constituents.”

Regarding the ban on pets being given as prizes, he added: “This marks a great day for animal welfare in Conwy, particularly goldfish; as well as all the animals in the locality at risk of being inappropriately dished out as prizes.

“Owning a pet is a privilege – and should be a well-thought out, planned decision. Giving pets as prizes encourages the exact opposite – and can lead to numerous welfare problems.

“It’s great that this practice has been banned on Conwy council land; and that the local authority has become the fourth in Wales to introduce such a ban following tireless RSPCA campaigning.

“Sadly, we know many pets won as prizes will die before getting back to their new homes, or shortly after. This needs to end – and Conwy have added yet more momentum to this RSPCA campaign, as we seek action from other Councils, and for Wales as a whole from the Welsh Government.”

Mr Clark also welcomed discussions at the Council on a series of measures which could make life so much easier for animals during busy periods of fireworks displays.

He added: “We now look forward to working with Conwy Council’s Economy and Place Committee to ensure Conwy Council utilises all levers at their disposal to make fireworks less frightening for animals.

“We receive so many calls related to welfare concerns for animals connected to fireworks – so for local authorities across Wales to introduce measures is so important for animal welfare.

“Preparedness for pet owners is key – so better advertising of displays and a public awareness campaign could make all the difference. Sadly, we know many pets and other animals struggle with firework phobia, but hopefully action from Conwy Council will help make a real difference in this part of North Wales.”

Cllr Charlie McCoubrey, Conwy County Borough Council, said, “ I am delighted that Council supported my Motion to ban the giving of animals as prizes on Council controlled land and I very much hope that the Welsh Government will look to bring forward legislation to ban this outright, as is the case in Scotland.

“I look forward to further discussion at our Scrutiny Committee into ways we can encourage responsible use of fireworks and increase public awareness of the detrimental effect indiscriminate use can have on pets, wildlife and vulnerable individuals.”

To find out more about our #BangOutOfOrder campaign or to encourage other local authorities to take action, visit the RSPCA website.