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Leicestershire Council Bans Pets as Prizes

A campaign calling for pets as prizes to be banned is continuing to make waves as another local authority ban is approved in England – by Harborough District Council.

The RSPCA is calling on more to be done to prevent pets being given out as prizes across England – with the animal welfare charity recently revealed that nine out of 10 people are shocked by the ongoing legality of this practice.

Leicester Time: Leicestershire Council Bans Pets as Prizes
Picture: Unsplash

The RSPCA recently re-launched its #NoFunAtTheFair campaign calling for the outdated practice – which mostly involves goldfish handed out as prizes – to be banned. The charity is calling for all local authorities across England and Wales to stamp down on this practice to protect these animals that otherwise often will suffer as a consequence of being given away. 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.

On Monday (24 July) the issue was discussed by Harborough District Council at a full council meeting. The notice of motion was put forward by Lubenham ward councillor Jo Asher and was seconded by councillor Buddy Anderson.

Councillor Asher said: “I am delighted that the pets as prizes motion was passed at the full council meeting. My colleague councillor Buddy Anderson seconded this motion and many councillors from all parties spoke to give their support before we got to vote on it. 

“Councillors from all parties voted it through unanimously. I really hope that we see neighbouring councils and others across England follow, and I really hope this helps to get an outright ban implemented by the UK Government.”

Currently there are around 60 local authorities in England who have banned the practice from their land and 12 in Wales – but the RSPCA is urging more to take action after revealing the shocking number of adults who have admitted to winning a pet themselves in the past. Two in five (39%) UK adults know someone who has won a pet as a prize (a fish) and one in three UK adults (32%) have won a pet as a prize.

David Bowles, RSPCA’s head of public affairs said: “We are delighted that Harborough District Council has banned pets as prizes on their land, and we’d like to thank councillor Jo Asher for proposing the motion.

“The list of local authorities who are taking action is growing and growing – but we are calling on our supporters across the country to get behind this campaign to urge others to act.

“It is really clear that people are shocked to find this is still happening and there is also a strong body of opinion (84% of people) who also want local governments to ban it on their own land.”

The RSPCA believes that 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.

David 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. 

“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.”