Doncaster Council to ban pets given as prizes at fairgrounds on authority-owned land

Doncaster Council is set to ban the pets being given out as prizes during events on local authority-owned land.

Monday, 27th September 2021, 10:06 am
Updated Monday, 27th September 2021, 10:06 am

Deputy mayor councillor Glyn Jones made the announcement at a meeting of the full council and said this mainly concerned goldfish at fairgrounds.

Coun Jones also urged private landowners to also adopt the council’s position on the banning of animals for prizes and called the practice ‘completely inappropriate’.

The campaign was launched by the RSPCA back in July and raised concerns that the return of fairgrounds following the easing of Covid-19 restrictions would lead to a large number of goldfish being given out to ‘unprepared pet owners’.

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Doncaster follows several other councils in adopting the policy. Caerphilly Council in Wales were the first to adopt the practice in 2019 and a number of others including Rochford in Essex, South Kesteven in Lincolnshire, South Tyneside, Bristol and Wakefield followed suit.

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

Addressing councillors at a recent meeting at Doncaster Racecourse, deputy mayor councillor Glyn Jones said :“As a council we are troubled about the number of cases reported to the RSPCA each year, regarding live animals given as prizes via fairgrounds, social media and other channels in England – this predominantly concerns goldfish.

“We are concerned for the welfare of the animals that are being given as prizes, and in an effort to combat this we have banned the giving of live animals as prizes on land owned by Doncaster Council, we only have control over council land but I strongly encourage private landowners to do the same.

“Giving animals away as prizes is completely inappropriate and, as a council, we support the RSPCA’s stance that this practice should be stopped.

“I would like to thank Coun Gemma Cobby and Coun Daniel Barwell for championing this change.”

Evangeline Button, from the RSPCA’s wildlife department, said: “Sadly, it’s still 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.”

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Liam Hoden, editor.