We win, they lose: Why pets shouldn't be given as prizes

We win, they lose: Why pets shouldn't be given as prizes


A guest blog by Lauren Wylde our campaigns officer.

Now that summer is well and truly here, we've more time to spend out and about, getting outside and perusing local events. This often means we'll end up going to a fairground or funfair at some point too.

For many people, these events bring up fond feelings of nostalgia, with all the arcade games, sugared doughnuts, and fairground jingles. Whether you go for the coconut shy or the tin can alley, have you considered what prizes could be on offer before you play?

Most people think that pets being awarded as prizes is an outdated practice that no longer happens. Sadly, that's not the case. Each year, we still get calls from the public about innocent animals being prized off at these types of events.

The most popular animal to be prized off is goldfish and we're sure you'll agree that gold medals are a great prize, but goldfish are not.

Pets as prizes never win: Here's why

  • Often, these goldfish are kept in unsuitable plastic bags for long periods of time. These fish suffer from awful shock, horrific oxygen starvation, and can even lose their life from the dramatic water temperature changes. 
  • Goldfish feel stressed very easily, and we can only begin to imagine how they must feel in these unthinkable conditions.
  • After all, they've endured, often they're taken back to an inadequately prepared new home where their welfare needs simply aren't met. That's assuming they make it home alive, as all too often they can die before they reach their new homes. The winner of the game gets a prize, but often the pets never win.
  • Pet ownership is a serious responsibility, not one that should be prized off as a result of winning a game. Without careful consideration and preparation from a potential owner, any animal will suffer.
  • Fish are intelligent and can feel emotions, just like us. This means they also have the capacity to experience fear in a situation that can be incredibly harmful and frightening to them.

Wait, this is still happening?

It's an offence to give animals as prizes to anyone under 16 unless accompanied by an adult in England and Wales. This differs greatly from Scotland where it's an offence in almost all circumstances to give an animal away as a prize - no matter how old the prize winner is. We must work to follow Scotland's lead and encourage your local authority to stop this outdated practice on council-owned land.

It's #NoFunAtTheFair for these innocent animals - they always lose. This outdated practice must be stopped, but we can only make a splash by working together. So far across England and Wales, a total of 26 local authorities have implemented a ban, which is 'fin-tastic' news!

However, there are still hundreds of local authorities that haven't taken any action and are allowing this cruel practice to continue on their land.

Stand up for animals

Can you spare a few minutes to email your local authority to ban pets from being given away as prizes in your local area?

Take action now.

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