This is the largest and richest animal welfare charity in the UK. As far as can be ascertained, it has, at the time of writing, approximately £170m in the bank.
There are questions being asked, however, about how much this organisation is a positive force for animal welfare, as its founders wished. There are reports of ‘bully-boy’ tactics in seizing animals, often illegally, from people who have no wish to hurt animals. These seized animals are often reported to end up dead, with no chance for their legal owners to collect defence evidence. On the question of illegal seizure, the RSPCA has long known the law and has apparently knowingly flouted it, according to its own statements, in the pursuit of prosecutions. The RSPCA has a vested interest in prosecutions, since they attract more funds, yet it is still allowed to bring them and to take statements under oath.
The RSPCA Inspectors have intimidating, police-like uniforms and read out people’s rights, telling them that they are ‘not under arrest …’. What does that do to a respectable lady of 70 years? The terror can only be imagined. There are many cases in which it could be argued that education and communication were needed, not the strong arm of criminal law. Animal welfare should be the objective, not convictions. Even Customs & Excise seems to be losing the right to bring a criminal prosecution in this way, taking a statement under oath. Can a body, with a vested interest in prosecutions and with no ‘checks and balances’ in place, be safe with this right?
There is evidence that many in the RSPCA are against natural medicine, particularly homeopathy. Prosecutions are often brought, against people using homeopathy, with no veterinary homeopathic expert brought in to support the evidence brought by the RSPCA.
In order to guide owners in their use of natural therapies, for animal welfare and relative security from prosecution, I have formulated some guidelines. Responsible use of natural therapies for animal welfare.
Many small, private animal rescue centres have been the subject of prosecutions. These centres do attract funding, albeit in a small way, which might otherwise go to the RSPCA. One hopes that there is no connection between these facts. There is talk of licensing such establishments and the RSPCA is angling for the inspecting duty for this. Can a competing body, with no checks and balances, be safely granted such a role?
There are anxieties about an organisation which can set up a so-called ‘welfare standard’ for farm livestock (Freedom Food), market the food at a large premium on account of its welfare merits, yet not publish the names of the farms that subscribe, nor freely publish the ‘welfare standards’ that apply. There is, apparently, footage to show that welfare standards on such farms are not what they are supposed to be. There is hot-wire debeaking of chickens, to prevent the cannibalism caused by over-crowding. The logo has even been ‘sold’ to MacDonalds (of all companies) and other retailers, and appears on their take-out food bags.
The RSPCA has written disparaging remarks about welfare on organic farms (their direct competitor in the market place, for food sold at a premium) and about the use of homeopathy on organic livestock units. There is talk of licensing all livestock farms, whether organic or not. The RSPCA is angling for the inspecting duty for this. Can a competing body, with a vast commercial interest, with a self-confessed prejudice and with no ‘checks and balances’, be safely granted such a role?
The RSPCA has recently published its 10-point Action Plan, in the wake of the Foot & Mouth Disease disaster. In it are some worthwhile proposals, which were made by others, long before the FMD crisis! It speaks of the evils of long-distance travel to slaughter, remarking that this has long been known. Why did this 10-point Plan not appear before, if it was so obvious to the RSPCA? Where were the RSPCA, when animals needed them? Others have spoken out stridently about such things but the RSPCA, with enough funds to enable it to be effective, stood back. What happens to RSPCA ‘Freedom Food’ animals destined for slaughter?
Where were the RSPCA when animals were starving and drowning in fields, left there because of FMD movement restrictions? The MAFF was guilty of mass and corporate cruelty, by leaving these animals to starve. Why was there no prosecution? The RSPCA was guilty because it did nothing. It could have brought prosecutions against MAFF. With its millions, it could also have paid the military to airlift and drop hay for these unfortunate creatures.
Where were the RSPCA when animals were being wrongly shot, being left to die in the piles of their dead fellows? Was this what they refer to as ‘necessary suffering’?
It may surprise the reader to know that there appear to be no controls over the RSPCA. There is a Police Complaints Commission; there is an Insurance Ombudsman; there are watchdogs for the telephone, electricity and gas suppliers. There is no such person or body to apply checks and balances to the actions and activities of the RSPCA. Nonetheless, this organisation seeks more powers, through licensing of animal premises and through modification of the Protection of Animals Act 1911.
Police-like uniforms, police-like ranks, the right to take a statement under oath, the right to bring criminal prosecutions, without a ‘filter’ being applied by the DPP, the secrecy over the ‘Freedom Food’ scheme, the routine mutilation of animals in that scheme; are these the usual activities that we associate with an animal welfare charity? It is always worth looking at the spending pattern of any charity, to which one is considering making a contribution. If a charity spends your money on an activity, you are effectively funding that activity. It is prudent to be sure that you agree with the actual use of the money, rather than the stated objectives of the charity.
Animals desperately need a champion. The money that has been donated to the RSPCA was for animal welfare. We sincerely hope that the RSPCA will revisit its roots and remember its original purpose. In this way, we may regain an effective and rightly wealthy animal welfare charity.
If anyone has information about the RSPCA or Freedom Food, from any standpoint, we will be grateful to hear it via our feedback facility. We are, however, only able to take information that is properly supported by fact.
Also read Protection of Animals Act 1911
Copyright © AVMC - May 2002
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