Council bans animal prizes despite country show concerns

Richmondshire District councillors are to lobby the government to ban live animals being given as prizes, despite concerns that the move could impact on country shows and charitable fundraising.

Ahead of fresh animal welfare legislation being introduced, councillors also approved a ban on live animals being given as prizes on its land and will write to the district’s 54 town and parish councils urging them to follow suit.

Introducing a notice of motion at a full meeting of the authority Swaledale and Arkengarthdale member Councillor Richard Good said numerous residents had raised concerns over volume of pets being given as prizes.

He said it was important the government heard the authority’s concerns as it shaped the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill, which could see molluscs like lobsters and crabs recognised as sentient beings that can feel pain.

Councillor Good said his motion was mainly about protecting goldfish, but it was believed many cases of pets being given as prizes went unreported each year. He said: “I thought the days of putting goldfish in plastic bags were long gone. Unfortunately they’re not.”

He said members of the House of Lords had advised him they were uncertain that forthcoming legislation would cover all the animal welfare concerns, but added animals put up as prizes at agricultural shows did not generally face welfare issues.

The meeting heard while animals such as piglets and calves were given as raffle prizes at village and agricultural shows, it was done with an understanding that a farmer would pay the winner at least what the animal was worth, rather than the winner taking livestock home.

Leyburn councillor Karin Sedgwick said: “You don’t actually go home with one under each arm.”

The meeting heard concerns that an outright a ban on all live animals being given as prizes would impact on fundraising for charities, such as farmers in the area who raffled turkeys ahead of Christmas.

However, the authority’s leader Councillor Angie Dale said differentiating between animals would be wrong, adding: “I don’t know if somebody wins a chicken how they’re going to look after that chicken.”