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Rome Bans Goldfish Bowls

Date: 26-Oct-05
Country: ITALY

The classic spherical fish bowls are banned under a new by-law which also stops fish or other animals being given away as fairground prizes. It comes after a national law was passed to allow jail sentences for people who abandon cats or dogs.

"It's good to do whatever we can for our animals who in exchange for a little love fill our existence with their attention," said Monica Cirinna, the councillor behind the by-law.

"The civilisation of a city can also be measured by this," she told Rome daily Il Messaggero.

The newspaper reported that round bowls caused fish to go blind. No one at Rome council was available to confirm this was why they were banned. Many fish experts say round bowls provide insufficient oxygen for fish.

Animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, said Rome had gone further protecting fish than anywhere else in the world and gave Cirinna its "International Humanitarian Award".

"Rome stands out for recognizing that fish are interesting individuals who deserve our respect and compassion every bit as much as dogs and cats and other animals," said Karin Robertson, with PETA's "Fish Empathy Project".

In July 2004, parliament passed a law setting big fines and jail terms for people who abandon pets and since then local governments have added their own animal welfare rules ,many of which will be difficult to police.

The northern city of Turin passed a law in April to fine pet owners up to 500 euros ($598) if they do not walk their dogs at least three times a day.

The new Rome by-law requires owners to regularly exercise their dogs, and bans them from docking their pets' tails for aesthetic reasons.

It also provides legal recognition for cat lovers who provide food for the colonies of strays, who live everywhere from the city's ancient Roman ruins to modern office car parks.

Animal rights groups estimate 150,000 pet dogs and 200,000 cats are abandoned in Italy every year.

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