This is the newsletter published by and for members of the RSPCA. Because of the deep discontent that it shows within the membership we feel that it should have wider publicity than it currently receives. We have maintained the content accurately, but have lost some of the formatting. Past editions will be added as time permits. We hope that publishing this will do some good and lead to a much needed reform of the society. contains links that might be of further interest.

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AT LAST, notice has been taken of Robin Howard’s resolution and the protests from Watchdog and concerned members. Leather goods are to be banned from future RSPCA catalogues. This is a step forward. We can only hope that there will be a more sensitive approach to other goods offered for sale by the Society. The suffering of animals in cruel and barbaric factory farms must never be forgotten and their deaths must never again be trivialised by items in the RSPCA sales catalogue.





Many Watchdog supporters have been very upset by the programme of Animal Treks organised by David Mills, the RSPCA Junior Membership Co-ordinator. In a letter to Sylvia Durant, Mr. Mills has defended visits to a calf unit, a hunt kennels and a talk by a gamekeeper. We are publishing her reply in the hope that it will make David Mills think again.

"You may consider a calf unit that is run to the highest possible standard, acceptable. In my opinion, a calf should not be wrenched from its mother but should be able to enjoy her company and the freedom it is entitled to. Under no circumstances should a calf be kept in any type of enclosure and deprived of its mother’s milk purely for the benefit of certain human beings.

How can children benefit from talking to a gamekeeper, a man who is employed to destroy our wildlife and rear birds for a minority of callous people to slaughter. You have included in this trekking holiday a visit to a pig farm, where children will have the opportunity to view some of the cruelty involved in intensive farming . But why the visit to hunt kennels, for the cruelty to the hunted animal is not shown here. With cub hunting in full swing, perhaps your programme should include joining the hunting fraternity so that children can view a cub hunt, for this is the cruelest season of hunting. Barely five month old cubs being driven into the jaws of awaiting hounds merge into what can only be described as a bloody battle. Dig outs by terrier men - a massacre takes place. THIS IS HUNTING.

This season and last and in the company of other grandparents and myself, my grandchildren, whose ages range from 3 to 10 years and who are DEDICATED to the welfare of all animals, have risen from their beds at 4 am in an attempt to save the lives of fox cubs from the annual ritual of the secretive early morning cub hunt. In doing so, my grandchildren have witnessed the true horror of the cub hunt and learnt from experience that those that hunt are wrong and cruel. One can only learn from experience.

Perhaps when the RSPCA consider organising another animal trekking holiday they will include a visit to a wildlife hospital where the children will see that many of the hospital patients are the results of the hunting and shooting brotherhood at such a place children are shown how to care for all animals, for all animals enhance this earth and should be loved and cherished."





We were all very sad to receive copies of Cdr. Innes Hamilton’s letter of resignation from the RSPCA. We have published his letter. The Society cannot afford to lose his support and we hope that he will change his mind and rejoin to help in the struggle to improve the Society. Cdr. Hamilton is the author of several books including "The Beagle Brigade", an exciting and inspiring book about one man’s effort to do something about cruelty to animals.

Innes Hamilton has emphasised the declining membership as a disaster for the Society. It would decline even further but for the efforts of watchdog to persuade members not to give up hope of change. We get many letters expressing views like these:-

"It is only because of you that we continue to rejoin the RSPCA each year."

"I did intend to drop out of the RSPCA and send the sub to you instead, but as two Watchdogs are now on the Council, I decided I’d better re-subscribe so as to have voting rights next year."

SURELY the Council must begin to realise that all is not well in the Society when members like Cdr. Hamilton are driven to resign and LORD HOUGHTON HAS REFUSED FOR OVER A YEAR TO ACCEPT THE HIGH AWARD THE COUNCIL WANTS TO GIVE HIM. He has said that he will NOT accept the award until the matter of the Watchdog Five has been resolved.

From January 1st 1984 to December 31st 1988, THE RSPCA LOST 5,175 MEMBERS.




"I take my hat off to the voluntary sector - You do a wonderful job; in my personal contact, through speaking at AGMs or at conferences, you have always inspired renewed enthusiasm."
Elizabeth Winson RSPCA TODAY AUTUMN 1989

Congratulations Elizabeth - we shall miss you. At a time when voluntary help to charities is declining, RSPCA Council members and some Branch Committees should learn to appreciate voluntary workers and not drive them out.





"After getting the engaged signal a dozen times, she received her reward for perseverance. "RSPCA. This is a recorded message. The Inspector is out on duty. He is normally available on this number between eight thirty and nine, twelve and one and between six and seven..."

"Kike tried without success for three days between the prescribed hours. At last, on the Saturday, there was a change of message. This time the recorded voice announced "The RSPCA Inspector is off duty until eight o’clock on Monday morning."


"The assistant at the pet shop where I get my supplies, had been feeding an emaciated Samoyed dog. She fairly soon found out where it livd and visited its owners only to find out that they had no intention of feeding it......

On returning home she phoned the RSPCA, it was still opening hours. An answering machine gave her two other numbers to ring. She rang both numbers. One number was another answering machine giving yet more numbers. The other said they could not help. For just short of two weeks Val rang every number she was given for the RSPCA. She was given many numbers by many answering machines - told they could not help or the telephones were not answered."
RSPCA MEMBER'S LETTER dated 27th October 1989

Tip...ring the operator and report the RSPCA phone out of order.





As the euphoria slowly dies into practical action and we see the people of the eastern bloc get promises of "a fair and democratically elected government which listens to the views of its citizens", one is left wondering if this state of affairs will ever come to pass in the RSPCA. Will we ever get a Governing Council which is fully elected by the entire membership? This, of course, would still give the branches representation on Council.

The history of voting practice in the RSPCA shows clearly that nationally elected members show as much, or more concern for branch matters as do the regional representatives. It is surely a farce to have persons elected to the governing Council who as regional representatives can be "elected" by as few as 30 votes whilst others fail election with over three and a half thousand votes from the membership. Very often the regional representatives vote is manipulated by regional organisers. We have been given evidence of this. It is farce enough, indeed, that these people should obtain a position on Council,but almost beyond belief that they can gain a position as officer or indeed chairman of Council as we have at present.

The other farce we are faced with is the "election" by the Council of so called co-options. A situation which Mrs. Felthouse has in the past felt was so unfair that she put pen to paper to condemn.

Apart from this total lack of democracy on Council voting, we have the Annual General Meeting which one assumes is for the benefit of the membership and a way in which the members can seek to get their views expressed and if their views find majority support get the relevant action. In this area too we see that the Council has no intention of allowing the membership to have a say in the way in which the Society is run. They can, and often do, stop resolutions even getting to the AGM on the catch all rule that they feel that such a resolution going forward would be "detrimental to the Society". In the history of the Society, this has been used to stop resolutions on hunting and vegetarianism going forward for discussion at the AGM. Of course, if the Council members fail to see the resolution stopped at this level by an oversight, then they can sort it out later, as they often do, by not implementing the resolution and thus ignoring the wishes of the membership. A Council with almost 50% undemocratically elected can ignore the wishes of the membership.

Of course when it suits them they can act without delay to implement resolutions even if they get by on only a handful of votes.

The Chairman and other officers make patronising noises about the Society wishing to serve animals and wishing to carry out the wishes of the membership. In fact, by the very nature by which they choose to run the Society can mean that neither happens. The Society’s history shows that it has been in turmoil for many years. This will, of course, continue until such time as we have a truly democratically elected Council and until the wishes of the members as voiced at the AGM are carried out.

Increasingly, the branches feel alienated from the workings of Headquarters as it is not until they breach one of the Society’s often petty rules, that they even come to the attention of the Council. If the Chairman is so sure that the membership likes his way of doing things why does he not have the courage to stand for a proper election by the whole membership as do Watchdog candidates and others. With fast changing situations and attitudes in the area of animal welfare should it be that officers of Council hold positions for over a decade and a half. We are sure there are other persons on Council who have sufficient experience to be able to take on the officers positions.



These £ signs are to remind you to read page 17 of RSPCA TODAY AUTUMN 1989. What will be the financial and environmental cost of the colossal increase in the administration caused by RIO????? What salaries, perks and expenses will the 10 new regional Managers and extra numbers of Regional Organisers (now renamed Branch Co-Ordinators) receive??? How much will it cost to provide extra Council members with all their expenses and perks? How much will it cost to hold all those extra regional committee meetings??? How many trees will be cut down to provide all the extra paperwork required by all the extra staff and all the extra Council members and all the extra regional committees?????






Cats lose refuge

Members criticise RSPCA decision


RSPCA managers are allowing animals in Devon to suffer through their "shortsighted" and inflexible policies, according to the society’s own members.

The Torquay & South East Devon branch of the charity has reacted angrily to an order from their headquarters in Sussex that they can no longer take in cats overnight.

Fuel was added to the fire when HQ also decided to refuse money for new premises.

The row has been sparked by conditions at the RSPCA building in Torquay which is "cramped and inadequate" according to branch officials.

They have been trying to find a new place and were hoping the charity’s national managers would hand over either a grant or a loan to ease the move.

But HQ has turned down their application and told them the 30 to 40 cats which regularly stay at the South Devon centre must go.

Torquay branch secretary Ann Arscott said; "we have strays and other cats that are brought in to us when, for instance, people die.

"Now, when they come in, they’ll be told: ‘Sorry, we can’t take Tiddles.’ I think animals will suffer because of it.

"We admit the facilities in Torquay are not ideal but we are doing the best we can and surely taking them in is better than turning them away."

Further controversy erupted when the Horsham-based HQ said the "no cats" order also applied to wild felines - or ferals.

"I don’t know what will happen as far as they are concerned, " said Mrs. Arscott.

"I fear people may start to put them down if we cannot keep them overnight. I can’t see how they can class ferals as domestic animals."

She went on to criticise the decision not to grant funding."They have the money sitting there and I do feel aggrieved that we are not getting any of it.

"I feel this has been decided by people sitting behind desks and in committee rooms who do not know what it is like on the front line.

"We need money for the new premises and we are frantically looking but when we ask for help, there has been stony silence from Horsham."

But RSPCA regional manager Jonathan Silk hit back, accusing Torquay members of "being parochial". "The Exeter branch is trying to find an animal home and we think the two branches should pool resources."

He said cats had been banned overnight because conditions at Torquay were inadequate.

"If it were a private boarding establishment, we would be very critical and we cannot condone our members doing something we would criticise somebody else for.

"The branch could find foster homes for the cats as a temporary measure, but so far they’ve made no efforts to do so,"he said.


The RSPCA has donated £100,000 to the Institute of Food Research, which is scheduled for closure. The BEIC has agreed to match the donation, on condition that researchers refrain from revealing their findings without permission.




  Cdr Innes Hamilton. DSC
Christchurch Road
Virginia Water Surrey
GU25 4RW

26 September 1989

The Chairman of the Council
RH12 1HG

I am sorry not to have written sooner after the 1989 AGM of the Society and the vote of some 75 members present against adoption of the Annual Report for 1988. That was the only course open to the membership whereby they might indicate displeasure at the ignoring by the Council of the wishes of the membership clearly expressed.

You will recall the Motion at the 1988 AGM in which --- and I word this carefully --- the RSPCA Membership in General Meeting (I believe the vote was unanimous) called upon the Council itself to instigate a birth control campaign to prevent the birth of unwanted cats and dogs in England and Wales in the event that the Government had not done so by the date of the Society’s 1989 AGM and meanwhile to prepare for such eventuality.

The object, clearly expressed was to reduce and eventually to stop the suffering and wholesale slaughter by the RSPCA (and others) of innocent animals whose only crime is to be born. Further and importantly it was stressed that this would free vast sums financially and a great part of the Society’s manpower, both professional and voluntary to tackle the major cruelties in farm, laboratory, in the wild, and overseas.

I could not at the time, nor before, nor since, conceive anything more calculated to benefit animals in Britain than implementation of this Resolution: not only as regards unwanted domestic animals but in the securing more rapidly of reform in other areas where the suffering is worse and often incomprehensible to the civilised citizen once he becomes aware of it.

At the the 1989 AGM, it appeared to many of those present that you did not consider this whole matter of sufficient importance even to comment upon it: surely supreme annoyance in view of the compelling importance attached to it by the Membership. The photograph of yourself in the 1988 Annual Report with a cuddly animal at the opening of yet another RSPCA establishment (for unwanted puppies) does much to reinforce this view. It should be patently obvious that a million more RSPCA establishments would contribute nothing to the problem. Only prevention of the birth of unwanted animals can do that, and spaying can only be carried out by properly qualified veterinarians, not lay persons however well meaning. The proper use of the RSPCA’s millions in this context is to assist with veterinary fees and transport those who cannot afford to have their won animals doctored, and to deal with strays. In any case, this has been well proven in practice AND that, asked in a civilised fashion, the Vets would, unquestionably, assist with special rates in such cases.

Your bleating about a registration scheme for dogs does not prevent the birth of a single animal. As you simply will not address yourself to the real problem as seen by the membership of the Society, I must ask you to accept my resignation.

My resignation in itself is of little importance, but an overall national decline in membership is a disaster at a time when support is needed more than ever. I submit that your leadership is proved to be uninspiring and --- worse --- your apparent total disregard of those members who remain and the huge amount of suffering that this inaction is perpetuating.

Yours sincerely

Innes Hamilton




Thank you for all your letters and phone calls. We are most grateful for your donations.

We wish you all a very happy Christmas - the third for Watchdog.

Best Wishes,

(Margaret House, Angela Walder, Dave Wetton and Richard Farhall Office staff)

and RSPCA members



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