44 Kingsley Road, Horley, Surrey RH6 8HR 01293 786166
|WATCHDOG NEWSLETTER NUMBER 42 JULY 1994
TEL: 0293 786166
CELIA HAMMOND ANGELA WALDER BILL JORDAN
on being re-elected to the RSPCA Council. We are delighted.
There is an urgent task awaiting them and that is to ensure BETTER MANAGEMENT of the Society’s affairs. Help for animals is desperately needed and that can only be successfully achieved by Council members who are WELL INFORMED and IN CONTROL.
The RSPCA Act of Parliament 1932 Section 9 (1) states:-
"The Society shall be under the management of a Council and the Council shall, subject to the provisions of this Act and Rules control the affairs, funds, property and proceedings of the Society."
(Council members remain legally responsible even where they have delegated an obligation or duty to staff or one of their own committees.)
WE URGE THE NEW COUNCIL TO:-
(If highly paid staff could fail to follow the requirements of the 1932 Act of Parliament in respect of rule changes and not be disciplined - why should VOLUNTARY UNPAID workers have to suffer intolerable arrogance from the Council at distressing disciplinary hearings?)
EXPLANATION The 1932 Act of Parliament required that rule changes or amendments that affected the Society’s finances should be approved by a Judge or the Charity Commission. Yet a staggering ONE HUNDRED AND FORTY NINE RULE CHANGES dating from 1952 were not approved, INCLUDING the Rule change that set up REGIONALISATION. Approval was not granted until December 15th 1993 and this approval was NOT retrospective.
Had it not been for the Wakefield solicitor demanding to see the certificates of approval, the Council would have gone on acting invalidly.
WE ASK AGAIN
Was any disciplinary action taken against any member of staff?
A MEMBER’S VIEW OF THE AGM AND THE ANIMAL WELFARE CONFERENCE
‘It was a profoundly depressing day, the worst AGM I can ever remember. Perhaps it was the venue that made it all seem so shoddy - bad acoustics, too many stairs for the old and disabled, uncomfortable seats, no vegetarian or vegan food available at lunch time or maybe it was the shadow of John Gummer of beef burger fame lingering in the hall where he has so often been seen.
The opening prayer urged kindness to all creatures but will the plea be heard by those who have caused such unkindness to their fellow members by refusing them branch membership, expelling them from branches and the Society and from branch committees? By all accounts the Archbishop of Canterbury, Vice Patron of the RSPCA will be unlikely to intervene on behalf of the victims.
The Chairman gave an uninspiring address. He quoted comments made in Watchdog No. 3(8?) about his 19(9?)2 election address (not mentioning Watchdog by name). In this he had advocated:-
"Members should have the opportunity to become more involved in the Policy making of the society." and he was able to "openly discuss all aspects of the Society". Did he not realise how ludicrous it was to go on and preside over a meeting savagely cut to a morning only and with ONLY ONE MOTION (the last) coming from ordinary members? One member was forbidden to ask six reasonable and well informed questions notified to HQ well in advance of the AGM. These questions are published in Watchdog later on.
OH! - John Gummer cropped up again in the totally unnecessary and time wasting video.
Questions asked on the Annual Report were not properly answered. When Caroline Wigmore asked about the injustices inherent in the Appeals system, the Chief Executive muttered that this system could only be changed by resolution at an AGM. Wrong. The Council made the Branch rule putting Mrs.. Davies in charge of the Appeals and the council can change the Branch rule without reference to the AGM.
One motion of mind boggling triviality was to permit Mr. Davies to call himself Director General (is he pining for his army days?) instead of Chief Executive. Richard Ryder, of all people proposed this. How times have changed. As Angela Said in opposing this motion "he will no doubt be called many names by me" - none of them complimentary if the talk of members at the AGM is any guide.
And who is Mr. A. Keating who has suddenly appeared on the RSPCA Council coming from nowhere. Who put him on the Council and Why? We should be told.
A mere 6,6106 members out of 19,010 voted in the elections for the Council - a mere 186 members voted at the AGM and these included Council members and staff. The poor attendances at the AGM is not surprising - there is no inspiration - no fire, the Council members appear fearful and bewildered and not in control. To me, the AGM has become more like a second rate business seminar - blank faced men in black suits and all.
From the Animal Welfare Conference, bouquets for bringing life to the meeting should be awarded to
DR. ALAN LONG for his well informed criticism of Freedom Foods and his call for a vegetarian diet. All this on a day when the national press was boosting the benefits to health of a vegetarian diet. A motion on vegetarianism was rejected by the Council - what an opportunity lost for the RSPCA to be in the forefront of reform (modernism as the staff like to use as their buzz word).The Chairman of the Freedom Foods Board (YES Mr. Davies again) looked very uncomfortable when Dr. Long provided a few facts on why egg consumption is going down and it was not because of RSPCA propaganda but fear of salmonella.
TO MRS. JOANNA MASON for her sensible and knowledgeable response to the AGM motion on the control of dogs in India. She emphasised, as ANYONE WHO HAS LIVED OR VISITED INDIA KNOWS that it is the fear of rabies that causes cruelty to dogs. She called for the RSPCA to use its money to help eradicate rabies. IF ONLY Council members would listen to members with first hand educated experience of other countries.
LASTLY TO DOROTHY ADAMS AND BERYL SPENCE, (COUNCIL MEMBERS, a very big thank you for their courage, honesty and their principled stand in informing members that the Council DOES NOT RECEIVE all the information it should. This is a serious matter and goes against the information given to the AGM by the Chairman himself.
Mr. Roy Forstar for poor chairing of the conference in calling the same members two or three times and neglecting to call others and for failing to control Mr. Davies whose facial expressions and body language eloquently expressed his disapproval or approval of what various speakers were saying.
MR. P. DAVIES for making a very unpleasant criticism of Ms. C. O’Neill which the Chairman should have made him withdraw AT ONCE.
I hope that the new Council will realise the importance of an Annual General Meeting and extend it to a full day. I would like to hear a good speaker - someone like the Rev. Andrew Linsey instead of the endless videos. I would have liked to hear the rejected motion on vegetarianism or the one from Mr. Gourlay that was also rejected. I even heard one member, famous for her opposition to ‘activists’ pining for the good old days of demonstrations. At least one knew that the RSPCA was alive and well then.’
QUOTE OF THE CONFERENCE
"There is no such thing as humane slaughter. - Ms. s. O’Neill.
QUESTIONS MRS. MARGARET HOUSE WAS FORBIDDEN TO ASK AT THE AGM,
1. Why did members of Council authorise enormous legal expenditure in 1993, knowing as they did that the Judicial Review Action of the Wakefield officers was bound to succeed?
2. Why on receiving the opinion of Mr. Roger Thorn QC dated 20th March 1991 did the Council members, the Legal Department and the Chief Executive/Director General not take steps to thoroughly check the rules were valid?
3. The amendment to Rule V(1) made in 1989 which enlarged the number of Council members was invalid until approved on 15th December 1993, such approval not being retrospective. Will those Council members elected in 1990, 1991, 1992, and 1993 under an invalid rule explain why they are still acting as trustees knowing that the amendment to Rule V(1) was invalid?
4. Will Council members explain why charitable funds were used to proceed with the Council meeting of the 24th February 1993 when it was clear that the rule under which they were acting against the Wakefield officers was invalid?
5. Did the Council approve the application for the Section 10 order of the 15th December 1993 and is the Council aware that this order was not disclosed to Mr. Justice Schiemann and that this non disclosure may have to be referred back to the High Court?
6. Can members be assured that Council members receive all documentation and that t he Chairman of Council is always accountable for his/her actions to all Council members?
(Of course these questions were worded in order to try and find out if Council members are being given full information that they need to make decisions. Now, thanks to Dorothy Adams and Beryl Spence, I know that they are not. Mr. Davies’ excuse for refusing to allow my questions was because the Charity Commissioners were considering a copy of my questions that I had sent to them. Even when I made it clear that my letter to the Commissioner had made it clear that it was not a complaint and was for information only UNTIL my questions were answered, I was still silenced. M.H.H.)
We are grateful for your letters, donations, phone calls and information. Without all our supporters there would be no Watchdog. We were sorry that no mention was made of Lord Houghton at the AGM. He could not be present because he is 96 and convalescing after (8?) weeks in hospital and two operations. We sent him our very best wishes. We want a democratic RSPCA (as Mr. Forster did in 1982) and as lord Houghton has repeatedly urged.
The RSPCA is not a happy Society. Too many members have been badly treated. We urge Council to do away with secrecy and allow members as observers to Council meetings reserving a section of the meeting for confidential non open sessions.
A MEMBER WRITES
(A copy of this letter was sent to the Council member for the area. Mr. Lewis Page initiated a inquiry into the matter and will bring the subject up on Council. Thank you Mr. Page.)
Our free safari train takes you to see the red deer, whilst fallow deer, Highland cattle and Soay sheep wander in acres of paddocks with the llamas.
NATURE IN CLOSE-UP!
In our huge Pet’s Corner you can cuddle rabbits, guinea pigs and chickens, and play with goats and lambs. Admire the shire horses, donkeys, sow and piglets, and cow and calves.
to the wallabies and you may be lucky enough to see ‘Joey’ peeping out of mum’s pouch.
WORLD OF COUNTRY LIFE, SANDY BAY, EXMOUTH, DEVON
and after October 31st say GOODBYE
Some animals will no doubt be killed for food and others ‘disposed of’ by a vet after entertaining the public.
If you know of places where animals are disposed of in order to keep appealing baby animals - please let us know.
Incidentally we were told that at the Horley Carnival a local animal sanctuary was exhibiting meerkats in order to raise money. Did the local Surrey East Branch find out where they were obtained from?
A Branch Officer phoned Watchdog to express concern about the cost and effectiveness of microchipping. Originally branches were told that information about a microchipped dog would remain on computer for 20 years. Now it appears that this will only happen if an annual fee is paid. Otherwise the information will be dumped after six months.
What is the use of microchipping? People who let their dogs roam are highly unlikely to pay an annual fee after adopting a microchipped dog. Would it not be better for the RSPCA to set up cheap spaying and neutering clinics - or would the Vets object?
A Nuneaton member wrote to send us this interesting letter. The recruitment of an RSPCA Branch Secretary to the Animal Rights Movement must be news.
May I through your letters page inform your readers and our loyal supporters that it is with much regret that for health reasons I have to resign from the position of honorary secretary of the Nuneaton branch of the RSPCA.
Due to a heart condition I am unable to take the daily strain and worry of dealing with so many sad cases of animal abuse.
I will still assist animals and continue to campaign for a better deal for animals and stand up for animals’ rights.
This last year has seen a dramatic rise in people requesting financial help from the branch for payment of their pets’ vet fees. I have been in charge of deciding how the funds were distributed, a difficult task, and one that has become too big a strain for me.
I will still be around sticking up for all animals ..... try and stop me, but at the present time I cannot continue to carry out the daily duties which are required in the position of branch secretary.
RSPCA Nuneaton branch
Why should distributing branch funds be too big a strain? Usually it is the other way around. The strain occurs in having to raise money. Why was it left to Miss Coles to decide how to spend the money - why did the branch committee not make the decisions?
Miss Coles was lucky to take over a branch which had been successful in fund raising and attracting legacies AS WELL as having a good record in animal welfare.
The RSPCA believes that members ought to have the opportunity to keep up-to-date with the RSPCA’s work by receiving appeals through the post, and also that they should have the opportunity of knowing what their local branch does to help the animals.
Yes Please. I would like to know what the Surrey East Branch does to help animals ......MHHOUSE
D. Wetton Esq.,
2, Castle View,
27th April 1994
Dear Mr. Wetton
I am commanded by The Queen to thank you for your letter regarding the use of real animal furs.
perhaps I should explain that bearskin caps have been worn by the Foot Guards since the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. Contrary to popular belief the caps are not made from the pelts of the protected grizzly bear but from skins of the much more numerous race of the Canadian brown bear and are dyed black. The majority of the bears are taken by Eskimo hunters and the skins are sold on the Canadian fur market in accordance with an international wildlife conservation agreement. The bears are not killed specifically to provide bearskin caps, indeed the majority of the skins are sold in Canada and the United States.
Only a very small number of new caps are made each year, whilst a number of old ones are remade using the same skins. You may be interested to know that many of the bearskins currently in use are in excess of 20 years old and the need to replace them is not a regular occurrence as the bearskin from which they are made is very hardy. Indeed bearskins are regularly refurbished as it is often the cane frame which shapes the bearskin which becomes damaged and this is relatively easy to replace.
Research is being carried out to find a synthetic replacement but none of the materials tested so far have met the necessary requirements.
NOW YOU KNOW AND FROM THE PATRON OF THE RSPCA.
Is this a case where tradition should give way to the PROMOTION OF KINDNESS TO ANIMALS???
PROMOTION OF KINDNESS TO ANIMALS:
RSPCA code details 46 ways to skin an ostrich as home-bred birds head for the table
The RSPCA yesterday published 46 guidelines for protecting the welfare of ostriches which are being bred for meat in Britain and should be ready to be slaughtered and eaten here in three years, writes James Erlichman.
The recommendations include adequate shelter, outdoor access to live vegetation, strict limits on feather plucking and close contact with a friendly stockman.
There are about 20 ostrich farmers in Britain who together own about 300 birds. Most are exported to North America and Europe, where the market is more developed.
Francis Ayres, the first ostrich farmer in Britain, said yesterday: "Our Oxfordshire farm is basically organic and free range, and the welfare of the birds takes precedence. Anyone who tried to raise them too intensively would fail because they refuse to breed if kept in too-close captivity, and die."
The ostriches pictured above with Charlotte Morrisey of the RSPCA were hatched by Mr. Ayres and his wife, Linda, and sold to Brookfield Farm, near Kingham, Oxford.
"We have no problem with the RSPCA code," said Mr. Ayres, "but we have already agreed a draft for a more comprehensive code with the Ministry of Agriculture’s Farm Animal Welfare Council, which has been handed to ministers."
Alistair Mews of the RSPCA said: "We began our investigations well before the ministry’s and we believe our code of conduct is a significant step forward. We are trying to avoid the awful conditions inflicted on other intensively-reared species."
Ostriches, also valued for feathers and leather, taste like beef but are low in cholesterol. They can live up to 75 years, but have a brain the size of a pea. Breeding pairs, which can produce up to 100 eggs a year, are fetching up to £15,000. Smoked ostrich, imported from South Africa, is already available in Britain.
PHOTOGRAPH E. HAMILTON WEST
A Sunderland woman fears for the lives of a cat and its kittens after the RSPCA told her to contact the pest control department.
Pauline Kerr found the kittens next to a disused building near her home in the city centre.
"I have seen RSPCA leaflets which ask for members of the public to contact them," she said.
"(BU)t they said they were not prepared to send someone out. And when they told me to phone the council’s pest control people I was horrified. You know what they do."
Pauline then called local animal charity North East Animals at Risk, who said that if the cats were wild, the best thing would be to neuter the mother, even though the kittens might have to be destroyed as they would not make suitable pets.
Audrey Truswell, of the charity, said: "The local yobs get to hear of the cats and do goodness knows what to them. By managing the problem of strays we are preventing cruelty."
A spokeswoman for the RSPCA said: "This type of case is difficult, because if the cats are wild they will be destined for life in a cattery.
"Generally, unless there is a specific complaint from the owner of the property, there is not a lot we can do. But each request is assessed individually."
A CHATHAM woman has criticized the RSPCA after a cat spent two days stuck up a tree.
Maureen Renshaw, of Gorse Avenue, Weedwood, rang the charity after she failed to coax a neighbour’s pet down from a branch 30 ft. up.
But she was told that it was RSPCA policy to wait a further 48 hours before calling the fire brigade.
The cat, named Scamp, dashed up the oak tree on Monday last week after she was scared by another cat.
Mrs. Renshaw tried in vain to persuade Scamp to come down over a 24-hour period. Eventually, she was forced to call the RSPCA.
She said "They told me to wave a kipper at it and I said ‘but it’s 30 feet up a tree’. They said the cat would still smell it and come down. It’s just madness."
Scamp was finally rescued by the fire brigade at 3.30pm on Wednesday.
Mr. Chris Towler, acting chief inspector for the RSPCA in Kent, defended the charity’s policy.
He said: "The reason for this is not indifference to the cat’s welfare but purely to ensure that the cat is definitely stuck up the tree and it isn’t just a straightforward case of a cat up a tree watching the world go by.
"We have had a least one fireman in Kent killed as a result of rescuing a cat from a tree."
He added that an RSPCA inspector went to assess the situation the day after Mrs. Renshaw’s call, which was a quicker response than usual.
FED UP with horses? Greyhounds gone to the dogs? Then try sheep-racing, writes David Harrison.
At Abbottsham, Devon, six sheep charge around a 220-yard track in search of glory every day. They bear names such as Sheargar, Alderknitti and Little Pullover. And they are ridden by woollen jockeys who sometimes fall off.
There is gambling, with profits going to a local charity. The sheep move fast and the course record is 22 seconds. But what makes these indolent creatures run? ‘Greed,’ says Richard Turner, the course owner. ‘We put food at the finish.’
The races, approved by the RSPCA, are part of the summer-long Big Sheep attraction, where up to 120,000 visitors can also watch sheep being milked, sheared and rounded up by sheepdogs.
Like most crazy ideas, sheep-racing was conceived in a pub. Mr. Turner was inspired after watching maggots race across a table in his local.
Photograph: Norman Lomax.
FOUR ITEMS OF NEWS
FOUR QUESTIONS TO ASK 1. Should the RSPCA give encouragement to ostrich farming by handing out helpful hints? Is slaughter made any easier for an animal by being preceded by adequate shelter and limited feather plucking
2. Should the RSPCA give approval to sheep racing? Why not teach respect for animals?
3. Is Mrs. Renshaw right to say that kipper waving is madness?
4. Is there no answer for wild animals but killing?
Answers please to Council members so that they will know your views.
Here’s to the future, modernised or otherwise.
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