The city of Rome has banned goldfish bowls, which animal rights activists say are cruel, and has made regular dog-walks mandatory in the Italian capital, the town’s council said on Tuesday.
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 councilor behind the by-law.
“The civilization 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.
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 $598 ( 500 euros) 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 which live everywhere from the city’s ancient Roman ruins to modern office car parks.
Animal rights groups estimate that around 150,000 pet dogs and 200,000 cats are abandoned in Italy every year.