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Two more councils in Wales ban pets as prizes on their land

Success! RSPCA Cymru has welcomed news that two additional councils in Wales have banned the giving out of pets as prizes on their land.

Bans by Swansea Council and Carmarthenshire County Council have taken the total number of local authorities in Wales who have taken action to 14 out of 22.

As part of its #NoFunAtTheFair campaign, the animal welfare charity is calling on the outdated practice to be banned – and has been campaigning for all councils in Wales to introduce their own local bans on their land. So far since its 2023 June launch – 11,351 people have supported the RSPCA campaign which follows more than 8,325 throwing their support behind the issue in 2022.

In July, the Minister for Rural Affairs and North Wales, and Trefnydd, Lesley Griffiths MS welcomed RSPCA Cymru’s campaigning on this issue and hoped the remaining councils would soon take action.

Swansea Council has now confirmed that a Notice of Motion was brought to the council in July which was passed and is now being enacted. Carmarthenshire County Council has also informed the RSPCA that the offering of live animals as a prize can no longer take place at events on council owned land.

Sioned Nikolic, RSPCA Cymru’s public affairs officer, said: “It is fantastic news to have Swansea and Carmarthenshire added to our list to make it 14 local authorities in total who have taken action.

“We’d like to thank everyone who has taken the time to fill out our campaign action and to the councillors too for their part in getting this over the line in their areas.

“The list is growing and we really do hope that soon we can say all 22 local authorities have banned this outdated practice.

“We know that this is something people care about – with many assuming it is already banned. Sadly, this practice can still take place on private land despite the council bans,  so we would ultimately  like to see pets being given away as prizes banned outrightly by the Welsh Government.”

Councillor Gareth John, cabinet member for regeneration, leisure, culture & tourism for Carmarthenshire County Council said: “I am glad to say that the practice of offering live animals as a prize cannot take place at events on County Council owned land. This condition is included in paragraph 3.7 of the ‘Funfair Agreement’.”

The 14 local authorities who have banned the practice so far are Bridgend, Caerphilly, Cardiff, Carmarthenshire, Conwy, Flintshire, Neath Port Talbot, Newport, Pembrokeshire, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Swansea, Torfaen, the Vale of Glamorgan and Wrexham. Some town and community councils have also initiated their own localised action.

Over the past few years (since 2020) there have been 42 reports – about pets being given as prizes made to the RSPCA; but the charity fears many incidents go unreported.

This summer RSPCA Cymru released data that revealed:

  • 83% of those asked in Wales were shocked that pets can still legally be given away as prizes

  • More than 4 in 5 (84%) in Wales agree that local governments in Wales and England should ban the giving of pets as prizes on council-owned land

  • 44% in Wales know someone who has won a pet as a prize (a fish)

  • 1 in 3 UK adults (32%) have won a pet as a prize – this rose to 38% when applied to those asked in Wales

  • 89% of those asked in Wales agree that keeping a goldfish in a bag is animal cruelty

The RSPCA believes animal ownership is a big responsibility, and while goldfish can make great companions, they 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, while many may die before their new owners can get them home.

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

“Before 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 RSPCA will also continue to make the case to both the UK Government and Welsh Government that pets being given away as prizes should be banned outright, and that national legislation in both countries is much needed.