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When in Rome…

ROME’S PET owners were faced with a new raft of rules and regulations on how to care for their pets under a new bylaw passed by the city council last month.

The bylaw also governs the treatment of Rome's 200,000 dogs. Owners must exercise their pets regularly and must not dock their tails for ‘aesthetic’ reasons.

The bylaw was proposed by Monica Cirinna, a city councillor who told Il Messaggero, a newspaper in Rome: "It’s good to do whatever we can for our animals who, in exchange for a little love, fill our existence with their attention. The civilisation of a city can also be measured by this."

Spherical fishbowls are now banned and fairgrounds are no longer allowed to give away goldfish or other animals as prizes – a clause that the UK Government has included in their recently published Animal Welfare Bill.

Signora Cirinna was praised by animal rights groups, who protest that traditional goldfish bowls are bad for fish because they are difficult to clean and do not allow enough oxygen into the water.

"Rome stands out for recognising 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, of the Fish Empathy Project, part of the international group, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

The Fish Empathy Project honoured Signora Cirinna with its "International Humanitarian Award".
The Roman rules were passed after national legislation in Italy set jail sentences for pet owners who abandon their dogs and cats and other cities have passed similar measures.

Under the most draconian regime, Turin, dog owners in Turin can be fined up to 500 euros (£338) if they do not walk their dogs at least three times a day, although quite how this law is enforced and by who has never been specified.