The RSPCA is calling for the giving of pets as prizes to be banned – and is urging local authorities across England and Wales to act to protect “misunderstood” goldfish.
As coronavirus restrictions continue to ease across England and Wales, the RSPCA fears that the “out-dated and cruel” spectre of pets being given away as prizes will return to fairgrounds as events resume in greater numbers.
Councils have been urged to take a lead on the issue – and ban any events on their land which give away pets as prizes.
Goldfish are the animal most commonly associated with prize-giving – and since 2015, the RSPCA has had 144 calls about goldfish and other aquatic animals being given as prizes, though reports have completely stalled since coronavirus restrictions were put in place and shows stopped taking place.
The charity now fears that – as fairgrounds and fetes return over the summer months – many goldfish will suffer as a consequence of being given away as a prize to unprepared new owners.
Supporters are being urged to write to their local Councillor, asking them to propose a Notice of Motion that would ban any events on local authority land where pets were being given away as prizes.
The RSPCA say this would send a “powerful statement” to both the UK Government and Welsh Government that pets being given away as prizes should be banned outright. They continue to urge prospective pet owners to thoroughly research adding an animal to their family before they acquire the animal – and say fish are often “misunderstood” as they can be hugely rewarding but challenging animals to look after.
Evangeline Button, from the RSPCA’s wildlife department, said: “Fairgrounds are a summer family favourite – and we know many people will be delighted to see them return as coronavirus restrictions continue to be eased.
“But sadly, it’s still too often commonplace to see pets – mainly goldfish – being given away as prizes. This remains legal in both England and Wales – but for the animals involved, there is no fun at the fair.
“Animal ownership is a big responsibility – and shouldn’t be a spur of the moment result of winning a game. To those playing – if you win, they lose.
“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 will 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.
“Sadly, goldfish won at fairgrounds are held in plastic bags in unsuitable conditions for long durations and taken to homes which are not adequately prepared to meet their welfare needs. It should be candy floss people take home from the fair – not live animals.
“That’s why we want local authorities across England and Wales to ban the giving of pets as prizes on their land, taking the lead to consign this out-dated and cruel practice of giving pets as prizes to the history books.”
A number of local authorities have already taken action – and Caerphilly County Borough Council was one of the first in 2019, following concerns raised about fish being given away as prizes at the Morgan Jones Park Fair in the South Wales town.
Cllr Pritchard said: “People I spoke to in Caerphilly were aghast the practice of giving pets as prizes isn’t already banned – so it was really important for me to work with the RSPCA to deliver this change. 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.”
Giving goldfish as prizes can cause serious welfare issues. Many will die before getting back to their new homes, or shortly after; and winning any animal through a game actively encourages owners to take on pets spontaneously without thinking it through – often with disastrous consequences.
In April 2019, a man filmed himself swallowing a live goldfish that he had won at a Somerset fairground the previous year. The fish had been won as a prize at the fairground prior to the incident, which was filmed and reported to the RSPCA to investigate. Following the case, the local council was inundated with requests asking them to ban the practice of giving live animals as prizes on Council land.
YOU MAY HAVE MISSED…
£4m tech prize offers new hope to people living with dementia in Wales
Millions paid to help Swansea families heat homes
Pup named UK’s most ‘pawfessional’ employee as nation’s favourite dogs at work announced
Aldi launches the ‘pump-king’ of all casserole dishes
Man charged after Morriston attempted robbery
‘Huge group effort’ helps find new accommodation for Bridgend homeless
Four new stamps issued in memory of Queen Elizabeth II
Three teenagers arrested after Morriston attempted robbery
Tributes paid to Morriston man who died in Port Talbot crash
140 new homes planned near Ffos Las racecourse
Bus drivers set to walk out in First Cymru pay dispute
From stamps and coins to passports and police helmets: What will change following the death of the Queen
Bus strikes back on after Queen’s funeral postponement
Gorseinon pub overlooking rugby and cricket club could become flats
Neath schoolboy names new street set to house 50 affordable homes
Council suspends non-essential services on September 19
Plans for apartments on former Neath Workingmen’s Club site
Pembrokeshire crowds ready to welcome 10th IRONMAN Wales
Man arrested for attempted murder in Aberavon crossbow incident
Bus strike cancelled after First Cymru and unions come to agreement
Construction3 days ago
Neath schoolboy names new street set to house 50 affordable homes
Port Talbot5 days ago
Police appeal for information after fatal Port Talbot crash
Cycling6 days ago
Former Pontarddulais railway line transformed into new walking and cycling route
Money5 days ago
Paper £20 and £50 banknotes will stop being legal tender after 30 September
Dyfed Powys Police4 days ago
Retired teacher dies after Burry Port assault
Carmarthenshire4 days ago
Hundreds sign petition to make a Llanelli road safer
Cricket6 days ago
Pontarddulais Cricket Club secures support from national housebuilder
Transport for Wales6 days ago
Majority of trains across Wales to be hit by fresh strike action