BARRY Operation Goldfish campaigner Holly Homer and RSPCA Cymru has expressed delight after a Caerphilly Council committee gave unanimous support to their pets as prizes campaign.

Environment and sustainability scrutiny committee councillors considered a motion which would ban the giving of pets as prizes on land owned by the local authority, on Tuesday, September 17.

There is currently no legal restriction on the giving of pets as prizes in Wales if the recipient is over the age of 16.

Miss Homer and the RSPCA are concerned that this creates a situation where the welfare of animals won as prizes is readily compromised by owners who are not prepared or able to meet the needs of their new pet.

The practice of giving animals as prizes can be extremely detrimental to their welfare.

Many will die before getting back to their new homes, or shortly after; and winning an animal via a game actively encourages owners to take on pets in a spontaneous, ill-planned manner.

Caerphilly Council would be the second local authority in Wales to act on this issue - after Newport City Council.

RSPCA Cymru hopes action from Caerphilly will encourage other local authorities to implement similar bans.

RSPCA public affairs and media manager, Chris O'Brien said: "RSPCA Cymru is firmly opposed to the giving of live animals as prizes. We were delighted to give evidence alongside Cllr James Pritchard on such an important animal welfare matter; and to see unanimous support from the council's environment and sustainability scrutiny committee for action.

"Adding an animal to the family should be a carefully-planned and well researched decision. Giving pets as prizes, however, encourages the complete opposite, and places animals in the hands of owners who may have no understanding of their legal obligations to their new pet.

"While a range of animals have been given as prizes in Wales, goldfish are those the RSPCA receives the most calls about. They can make hugely rewarding pets - but can be easily stressed, and very often those won as prizes suffer miserably from shock, oxygen starvation and changes to water temperature.

"The RSPCA now looks forward to Caerphilly Council's full council voting on this issue next month - with the local authority well placed to make a powerful statement to the local community, other councils and the Welsh Government that we should bring pets as prizes to an end in all corners of Wales."

Ms Homer, founder of the Operation Goldfish campaign, added: "The aim of Operation Goldfish is to ban the giving away of goldfish as prizes at funfairs. It is wonderful to see Caerphilly’s environment and sustainability scrutiny committee unanimously vote to support this motion.

“This gives hope that neighbouring councils will follow suit and eventually lead to a blanket ban for the whole of Wales and, hopefully, even further afield.

“This will not only save animals’ lives but raises awareness of the fact that a pet isn't something you win on impulse but instead a creature that you are legally required to care for properly throughout their entire life. It is a pleasure to work alongside RSPCA Cymru and Cllr Pritchard.

“Together, I hope, we will put a stop to these archaic traditions."