When regulations just get too nutsy: Outlawing selling a goldfish to children under 16

Apparently this UK law is an animal rights effort motivated by concerns that children will not properly take care of animals. But even if one thinks that is a general justification, it is hard to see how that applies to goldfish. What percent of 14 year olds who buy a goldfish harm the fish? What is the happiness that children get from having these pets? And a criminal penalty seems out of all proportion to any harm.

Her offence was to unwittingly sell a goldfish to a 14-year-old boy taking part in a trading standards 'sting'.
At most, pet shop owner Joan Higgins, 66, expected a slap on the wrist for breaking new animal welfare laws which ban the sale of pets to under-16s.
Instead, the great-grandmother was taken to court, fined £1,000, placed under curfew - and ordered to wear an electronic tag for two months.
The punishment is normally handed out to violent thugs and repeat offenders.
The prosecution of Mrs Higgins and her son Mark is estimated to have cost taxpayers £20,000 and has left her with a criminal record.
Mark, 47, was also fined and ordered to carry out 120 hours of unpaid work in the community.
Last night, as an MP criticised the magistrates, Mrs Higgins - who has run the pet shop for 28 years - said the family's eight-month ordeal had left them traumatised.
She added: 'It's ridiculous. I mean, what danger am I that I have to wear an electronic tag? These last few months have been a very stressful time.'
The seven-week curfew imposed by the court means she is unable to babysit her great-grandson at his home or go to bingo sessions with her sister, and will be unable to attend a Rod Stewart concert after tickets were bought for her by her nephew, actor Will Mellor. . . .

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Blogger Tim Bolin said...

and what valuable lessons about responsibility and consequences are learned by those children who DO neglect their fish only to see it swirl down the toilet?

by my reckoning, a dead fish is a pretty small price to pay for that bit of life experience.

3/30/2010 7:57 PM  
Blogger Weer'd Beard said...

For most of my youth I had a pet turtle. There were certainly many times when I bought goldfish for his dietary health. Better yet, I bought them from the "feeder goldfish" tank at the pet store. (They were fish with ugly coloration, and small in size that were not desirable for pets, and sold at a much lower price).

Do they not have feeder tanks in the UK?

3/31/2010 8:48 AM  

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