A BAN on the use of pets as prizes on council owned land and property has been approved by councillors in Merthyr Tydfil.
A report approved by full council on Wednesday, September 13 recommended an immediate voluntary ban of allowing animals as prizes from use of council owned land and property.
The ban will include events on council owned land and property hosted by the council and/or third parties.
An instruction will be given to all building managers within the council and all council tenants will be told about the ban.
The council currently voluntarily declines requests to allow animals as prizes on council owned land and property and the report said there is currently no political decision supporting this.
The report added that in recent years there has been increasing concern about this practice from members of the public and Welsh Government and that the RSPCA often runs campaigns raising concerns and have lobbied Welsh Government calling for a Wales wide ban.
There is no current UK legislation available to control this issue and it is therefore up to each individual council to consider the issue for themselves with 12 authorities in Wales having already introduced a voluntary ban.
The report said that since 2014, there have been numerous cases reported to the RSPCA of live animals being given as prizes in Wales.
Of these more than half were goldfish being given at fairgrounds; however other animals including dogs, ducklings and horses were also reported during this period.
Prize animals are frequently kept and transported in conditions which do not meet their needs, with this often resulting in their death before their new owners can even get them home, the report added.
Under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, it is an offence to give an animal as a prize to anyone under the age of 16, except within the family context.
The council report said that RSPCA Cymru believes that this does not go far enough, and advocates for a legislative move similar to Scotland’s which makes it an offence for an animal to be given as a prize to anyone regardless of their age, except where given within the family context.
It said: “Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council has the opportunity to ban the giving of live animals as prizes on Council owned land, ensuring the welfare of these animals is not compromised, as well as raising public awareness of the issue and leading the way on ending this outdated practice.”
In December 2019 and February 2020, the then minister for environment, energy and rural affairs, Lesley Griffiths, wrote to all councils in Wales to ask whether there were any formal or informal bans in place on the use of public land that prevent the giving of animals as prizes.
The council report said that whilst there is currently no policy supporting a ban in Merthyr, this is something the council has done on an informal basis for some time.
The enquiry from the minister has prompted the council to take a more formal stance to the position in Merthyr in regulating use of council land and property.
For events on private land, the council is able to enforce under the normal animal welfare provisions where intelligence is received.
In Wales twelve local authorities have already taken action including Bridgend, Caerphilly, Cardiff, Conwy, Flintshire, Neath Port Talbot, Newport, Pembrokeshire, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Torfaen, Vale of Glamorgan and Wrexham by introducing bans.
The report said that the term “voluntary ban” is not legally enforceable and has no supporting legislation but, if a voluntary ban is approved, it can be included in council policies and occupational agreements for use of council land and property.