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RSPCA urge more councils to ban goldfish as prizes Published Date: 08/07/2022

The RSPCA said "public opinion proves to be strong on the issue as last year more than 9,000 RSPCA supporters called upon their local authority to make a change and stop this practice from happening on their land."

"Sadly this outdated practice is still happening today and we're calling for the giving of pets as prizes to be banned. We're urging local authorities across England and Wales to act to protect these animals that otherwise often will suffer as a consequence of being given away."

According to the RSPCA, there are 22 local authorities in England who have already implemented bans or are taking action against this practice - and we urge others to join them.

The councils that have taken action include Waverley Borough Council, South Kesteven District Council, Greater London Assembly, Rochford District Council, Barnstaple Town Council, Bristol City Council, Shropshire Council, Stevenage Borough Council, Rugby Borough Council, North Hertfordshire District Council, Torridge District Council, Bolsover Council, East Lindsey District Council, Swindon Borough Council, Wakefield Council, Enfield Borough Council and Richmondshire District Council.

Sunderland Council, South Tyneside Council, Eastbourne Borough Council and Lewes District Council, have also recently taken action. Telford & Wrekin Council is also in the process of joining the list too.

Urging public support, the RSPC continued:

"It's hoped that more local authorities will follow this summer. Supporters are being urged to take the action on the RSPCA campaign online which will let your local councillor know that pets as prizes are a no-win situation. We hope this will 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 ultimately a requirement.

"Last year, 9,192 RSPCA supporters called upon their local authority to make a change and stop this practice from happening on their land.

"On 20 June, Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park - the Minister for animal welfare - confirmed that Defra has "commissioned some work on the issue of pets being handed out as prizes" in England; and that the UK Government is looking at the issue "very closely". Meanwhile, in Wales, the Welsh Government suggested in 2019 a willingness to act and that it would take forward "a separate piece of work" on the issue; though this has yet to materialise."

Lee Gingell, RSPCA's public affairs manager for local government in England, said:

As covid restrictions ease, there's a real risk that goldfish as prizes will return in big numbers as funfairs and festivals resume.

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, and many may die before their new owners can 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.