Local Council Joins Nationwide Efforts to Ban Pets as Prizes

Bolton Council has joined over 80 other local authorities in seeking an outright government ban on giving away goldfish and other pets as prizes.

  • Pets like goldfish are still given out as funfair prizes.
  • Bolton Council is backing a nationwide ban.
  • Local authority praised by RSPCA.

Earlier this year, we wrote about how the RSPCA had re-launched its #NoFunAtTheFair campaign against goldfish as funfair prizes. Bolton Council, also known as Bolton Metropolitan Borough Council, has now won the praise of the UK’s largest animal welfare charity. That’s after the local council joined ever-growing nationwide efforts to see the practice of giving pets away as prizes banned outright.

Bolton Council has already banned pets being given out as prizes on its own land – a ban brought in many years ago aimed at stopping funfair owners from giving away goldfish. However, goldfish and other pets may still be given away as prizes in and around Bolton from any privately owned premises.

Over 80 other local authorities have already joined the RSPCA-led campaign to completely ban pets as prizes in England and Wales. Bolton has now officially joined them, writing to the government and adding its name to the list of local councils calling for the practice to be outlawed entirely. There’s a strong precedent, too. Pets as prizes are already banned in all of Scotland.

Local Authority Praised by RSPCA

Speaking in response to news that Bolton Council had officially backed calls to ban pets as prizes fullstop, Lee Gingell, public affairs manager for the RSPCA, said, “We’re delighted that more and more local authorities and community councils, too, are taking action, and we’d like to thank each and every one of them for their support.”

The RSPCA’s public affairs manager went on to explain how people are often shocked to find that goldfish—and potentially other pets—are still being offered as prizes at fairs and elsewhere in 2023. He also reiterated how, when surveyed, 84 per cent of the public said they wanted local governments to ban the practice on council-owned land and, ideally, elsewhere.

An increasing number of councils in England and Wales—Bolton included—now have bans in place via the terms and conditions of locally held public events. However, this only bans the practice on council-owned land.

A nationwide ruling would put an end to pets as prizes entirely, as is the case in Scotland. Hopefully, the continued efforts of councils like Bolton will inspire an outright UK-wide ban in the not-too-distant future.