|WATCHDOG NEWSLETTER NUMBER 43 SEPTEMBER 1994
TEL: 0293 786166
QUOTE OF THE MONTH
ONE COUNCIL MEMBER - "What are we going to do about all the suffering involved in the live animal export trade?"
ANOTHER COUNCIL MEMBER - "WHAT SUFFERING?"
It can hardly be thought surprising that in the light of the above comment that some members of Council have chosen to support the RSPCA SO CALLED Freedom Foods Campaign. Although it may be argued by some that if we are to continue to eat meat and eggs, then freedom Foods is a step in the right direction. WATCHDOG thinks otherwise and would welcome the views of WATCHDOG supporters.
Freedom Foods is supposed to be based on the five freedoms listed in the advertising BUT LET US LOOK MORE CLOSELY AT THESE FREEDOMS.
One of these freedoms is freedom from pain. How can this be so when in fact the chickens in the F.F. are to be beak tipped (RSPCA polite term for debeaking as we all know it).
When this method is suggested as a model of pain assessment in laboratory animals, how on earth can it be suggested that animals subjected to this acute and often chronically painful procedure be referred to as an animal free from pain. It may be that if poultry are to be kept. in any kind of intensive system, then cannibalism will occur and we are therefore left with a moral dilemma but that does not mean we should suggest to the public the animals will be free from pain however transient it may be. We should certainly not suggest they are free, as they do, from fear and distress when exposed to such a procedure. After all let us remember that in a number of cases, too high to be acceptable, chicks die of shock after de-beaking yet the RSPCA, set up to prevent suffering is part of such a scheme, indeed initiated it. As for the pigs within the F.F. scheme, it is true that stall and tether systems will not be allowed but pregnant sows will still be placed in farrowing crates with all the deprivation and misery involved in that practise. A practise that COMPASSION IN WORLD FARMING has fought long and hard to be replaced by a more humane system. We will no doubt be told again by the RSPCA THAT WE HAVE TO BE PRACTICAL AND AS YET IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO GET RID OF FARROWING STALLS. So it might be, as impractical it is to STOP all people being inhumane to animals but we do not decide to campaign on an acceptable degree of suffering, indeed fund what they see as an acceptable degree of suffering. Anyone who has ever dealt with pigs will know how sensitive they are to their environment and surroundings. How can F.F. say that one of the freedoms is to be free to express normal behaviour when a pig with her young is held captive in a farrowing create before being transported to a slaughterhouse containing the noise and smell and paraphernalia of a bloody death. Even the scheme to oversee these very low standards leaves one with little hope as we know of inspections in other areas and the cheating and lying of those involved in animal abuse. Memories of the researcher receiving a large grant for alternative research from an anti-vivisection society whilst doing smoking beagle experiments in another part of the building. Headlines proclaiming ‘Help animals begin the Long March out of the Factory Farm back to the Farm’ are misleading in the extreme. No mention is made of the long journeys to slaughter houses in the back of hot metal lorries until they meet the slaughterer’s captive bolt pistol or the electric currents intended to stun but not always successful. The F.F. STANDARDS allow indoor housing of pigs so where did the ’down on the farm out of the factory farm’ originate from anyhow. The end to farrowing crates and the abolition of de-beaking were winnable goals and the people who turn God’s creatures into so much protein for the human stomach must be pleased indeed that the RSPCA IS GIVING RESPECTABILITY to such barbaric practices. Organisations such as C.I.W.F. must be sad indeed that its fight to outlaw de-beaking and farrowing crates has been dealt a sad blow by this RSPCA move to set minimum standards. If it was not so sad one would be almost amused at the comments made in much of the RSPCA advertising. WE ARE TOLD THAT THE FARMERS, SLAUGHTER HOUSE WORKERS AND HAULIERS HAVE AGREED TO VERY STRICT CONDITIONS. IS IT NOT THE RSPCA who constantly through the work of its excellent Special Investigations Unit show time and time again that these people do not even keep to the low standards already set, so why should they abide by higher ones. We are told that these ‘places of excellence’ will be inspected with prior notice annually and if that is not almost impossible to believe, they further go on to say that spot checks will be done by the already overworked Inspectorate; yes, those men and women who are so overworked we often cannot get them out in under 24 hours to deal with existing problems. The scheme can only get worse as it seeks to include not only other species of farmed animal but also products such as milk and cheese. Where are we going to take the often voiced comment re milk being the product of calf deprivation and maternal loss. Can we really hide the links between the milk trade and the veal calf trade. How many people will have heard the cries of the two or three day old calf removed from its mother and waiting in a lairage for transport to a foreign veal unit. The fact is that it is not possible in this day and age to take animals from birth to inflicted death without causing all the suffering that this trade involves.
Yes, of course, it is true that we will not make the world go vegetarian overnight but at a time when more and more people are going vegetarian either for health or animal welfare reasons, it is strange indeed that the RSPCA chooses in this campaign to suggest that you can be humane in your diet and eat animals - it simply is not true and we should say so. The RSPCA advertisement states that Freedom Foods will leave a nicer taste in your mouth. I personally, as an RSPCA member feel that it leaves a nasty taste in my mouth that a Society set up with the intention of protecting animals from harm is now promoting their killing and consumption.
We will no doubt be told that we are unrealistic, lack pragmatism and seek after the unobtainable. We will accept none of these criticisms. People join the RSPCA BECAUSE THEY ABHOR SUFFERING OR WE MUST ASK WHY DO THEY JOIN AT ALL, There is little doubt that if dogs and cats were the living creatures at present being sold down the river into misery and suffering then we would see an outcry by the membership. We see this no less because the present sufferers are pigs and poultry. We like to believe that the thinking membership of the RSPCA WILL SEE THE SUFFERING as no less and will take to task a Society who lets down our farm animals so badly. It could of course be argued that the cats and dogs are let down as well, as hundreds of thousands of pounds of the Society’s money is thrown into this scheme. We believe that apart from the animals, this scheme will damage any credibility that the Society has as a reforming Society. What is to follow - grants to scientists to do slightly less painful experiments - grants to circuses who have only semi-wild animals performing for them and award ceremonies for the dog fighter who killed with a dog with lesser teeth? FREEDOM FOODS IS NOT PRAGMATISM it is DEFEATISM and for the animals it is very little change.
"TO EAT THE OBJECT OF ONES CONCERN IS THE HEIGHT OF SELF DECEPTION"
A MEMBER WRITES
"Having spent 2 months in South Africa and visited an Ostrich farm, I was disgusted to learn that the trend of Ostrich farming had now arrived here in the UK. I have also seen Ostrich in the wild, both in South Africa and in Tanzania. They are large, agile birds, wary of strangers and cover huge distances in the search for food. They can run incredibly fast. The Ostrich is an African bird. They thrive in the heat and favour near desert like conditions - keeping them in the UK is totally unnatural. I think that by the RSPCA offering ‘helpful hints’ and guidelines concerning the keeping and slaughter of these birds, they are almost making the practice acceptable. I would condemn Ostrich farming in the same way as I would condemn deer farming. Both species are essentially wild animals. They are timid and must suffer much stress by both being kept in captivity and also at the time of slaughter. Don’t we farm enough animals for eating without introducing new species. Shouldn’t the RSPCA rather be outlawing such practices and guiding their members towards vegetarianism? I do not think the RSPCA should give approval to sheep racing."
"Re RSPCA. I think one of the problems is they must have a knowledgeable, strong animal minded person as Chief Executive. The policy of a new chief executive/director every few years is all wrong. Especially one chosen from ex-local government or service people. I personally would like to see a woman in the job!’
(What a good idea - Watchdogs)
"My mother, Mrs. J. A. Page, has been a member of the Society for over twenty years and is held in great esteem by her local community for her dedication and commitment to nature conservation and animals welfare. Despite a life-time spent helping to improve the lives of animals, both wild and domestic, not only has she been refused membership of the Society’s local branch but has been refused information about who has passed this judgment, on what grounds and by what criteria."
(We look to the new Chairman of Council to put right the many gross injustices inflicted on members, especially as we understand that he was given wrong information when seconding the motion that led to the Watchdogs expulsion from the Society. Come on Council members, you have the power to alter things - use it. Watchdogs)
"The administrative paper work relating to the Homeless Cats No. 1 Fund was causing concern which resulted in HQ Executive Staff recommending to Council that the Committee be suspended. This resulted in the suspension of the Committee and the taking over of control of the affairs of the Branch though some suspended Committee members were asked to continue to help.
To many of the Committee this action seemed not only premature but heavy handed and insensitive. The result was that some members of the Committee resigned and the Branch lost the Charity Shop together with an annual income in excess of £30,000 as well as the support of many well wishers. Committee members felt very strongly that they were placed under a cloud of suspicion and it was only their sense of duty and loyalty to the Branch that they continued to serve the Society in South West Essex."
(We have said it before and we say it again - WHEN will Council members learn that they are dealing with voluntary workers who need help not harassment. Was any action taken against paid staff or Council Officers for the fiasco over getting approval for Rule changes as required by the law? So, why pick on volunteers? - Watchdogs.)
"Titles of staff change fairly continuously. The DG title was changed two years ago. It had to come to the AGM because only the AGM can change the wording of the Rule Book. I agree that such things should not take up unnecessary time."
(We say - is it not time that such nonsense stopped? Let the Governing Body GOVERN and let the DG/ Chief Executive/ Dictator/ Commissar/ Boss get on with carrying out the policies and instructions of Council - Watchdogs)
Invitation to animal groups
An open invitation to readers of Horley Life who are connected with organisations concerned with animals has been extended by the recently appointed manager of Pet City in Redhill, Mr. Trevor Rice.
He would like to hear from anybodyinterested in perhaps staging an exhibition or in some way making use of facilities at the store in Brighton Road.
Mr. Rice, who has been in post for four weeks, is keen to see Pet City playing a greater role in community affairs.He suggests especially organisations involved with animal rescue work and pet clubs.
It’s worth looking out for a promotional leaflet shortly to be delivered throughout the area for it contains various money off coupons.
Pet City is a charming and unforgettable experience.
The ideal place to bring the kids.
We’ve also got displays of tropical and cold water fish, hamsters, gerbils, mice, chipmunks, snakes, lizards, parakeets and lots of other birds. Tarantulas too!
This Pet City is in the SURREY EAST RSPCA BRANCH AREA. The Regional Representative on the Council is MRS. UNMACK.
A profound silence reigns from the direction of Mrs. Unmack in spite of sending her a letter. What are her views? Have members no right to ask? What is the Surrey East Branch doing? Have members no right to know?
What about the education of children? Should animals and birds be held captive for their entertainment?
AGM 25 June 1994
1. Proposed by Mr. Matthew Hall, seconded by Mr. Gordon Newman:
Vegetarian diet reduces risk of early death, study concludes
Vegetarians are nearly 40 per cent less likely to die of cancer and 30 per cent less likely to die of heart disease than mean eaters, according to a study published today in the British Medical Journal.
Although there have been previous reports that a vegetarian diet is more healthy, conclusions have been confused because other aspects of life style could be contributing. The new research has excluded factors such as smoking, obesity and socio-economic status.
Stephen Connor, campaign director for the Vegetarian Society, said last night: "Study after study has shown that a vegetarian diet is healthier."
Amanda Weir, a nutritionist with the Meat and Livestock Commission, said: "The authors of the study say themselves there is no evidence that people should give up meat."
The study, one of the largest yet attempted, followed 6,115 vegetarians over a 12-year period and compared their death rates with those of 5,1015 meat eaters. Overall, there was a 20 per cent less chance of death from all causes over the 12 years for the vegetarians.
The researchers, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Oxford University, point out that apart from a high vegetable and fruit intake, vegetarians eat less saturated fat and more carbohydrate and dietary fibre.
Free-range fighters attack the shelves
New freedom fighters have emerged in the supermarkets of the nation: concerned shoppers are checking meat and poultry purchases for the Freedom food stickers indicating that pork and bacon - and soon beef, lamb and poultry - have the RSPCA stamp of approval.
The campaign, initiated by the RSPCA, aims at ensuring farm animals enjoy basic freedoms such as the freedom from fear, distress and pain.
Meat and poultry so approved will have started out as stress free animals, kept in good farming conditions; fresh bedding rather than concrete for cows and no batteries for hens.
That’s terrific. However, contented shoppers are over-looking one drastic step from happy free-ranging pig to pork chop with apple sauce - namely, death.
Researchers involved in the comparative study of vegetarians and meat eaters quite correctly assert that results which indicate that vegetarians have lower death rates, less risk of heart disease and are "40 per cent less likely to die of cancer" are inconclusive (Guardian, June 24). Yet taken in association with approximately 20 other comparatively recent research studies which have reached a similar conclusion, it is now logical to assert that a concerted effort to promote vegetarianism will save almost as many lives as an anti-smoking policy. Why then is there such a deafening silence on the subject form authority?
We now have health warnings on cigarette packets and weather forecasters warning us to avoid sunbathing on sunny days to avoid skin cancer. Logically, we should also have health warnings on all meat products and newscasters intervening at every meal time to remind us at least to minimise consumption of animal fat.
Even if the Department of Health were to adopt the modest target of 10 per cent of the population converting to a non-meat diet by the year 2,ooo this would result in improved human health, lower death rates and massive savings for the beleaguered health service. It would also save approximately 70 million animals from the slaughterhouse each year.
The Old Chapel,
The latest study confirming that "vegetarian diet" reduces risk of early death" (Guardian, June 24) should at last prompt the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and EU authorities into halting subsidies and grants advantaging and promoting the live/deadstock industry. Most people’s diets are already surfeited with calories, fats and protein, and the salutary trend can be fulfilled only by replacements of meat and dairy produce with foods our farmers can grow but at the moment with much less official support.
VEGA (Vegetarian Economy & Green Agriculture),
185 Lee Park Road,
‘Of all the ideas emanating from within the Christian tradition, the claim that animals were made for human use or benefit appears singularly misplaced,’
Rev. Andrew Linsey
RSPCA makes easy meat
The Observer 17/7/94
I do not understand the logic of the RSPCA’s campaign to improve the conditions in which farm animals are kept (last week). If it is morally wrong to cause animals to suffer before they are slaughtered, why isn’t it morally wrong to kill them? Would the RSPCA support a campaign for pet owners lovingly to cosset their cats and dogs then wire them up to the mains and slit their throats?
If people delude themselves that the animals on their plate has ‘not suffered’, they may be encouraged to eat more meat.
S. R. Wilson.
SMALL ITEMS OF NEWS
1. In Watchdog 42 we published the questions that Margaret House was forbidden to ask at the AGM. She has now received a reply from the Chief Charity Commissioner. In this letter it is stated that
‘We believe that the questions raised relate to the responsibilities of the trustees in the first instance and are not ones on which it would at this stage be appropriate for the Charity Commission to set up an investigation.’ (our underlining)
This is a favourable response from the Chief Commissioner in that an Inquiry is not ruled out and an opportunity has been given to the Council members as trustees to answer the questions. It would seem that the most important question to answer relates to the validity of the Council elections in 1990, 1991, 1992 and 1993. Only Celia Hammond, Angela Walder, Roy Forster, Bill Jordan and Mrs. Harrison have been validly elected under a valid rule approved by the Charity Commission in December 1993. It is for them to require the other Council members to have their position approved by the entire voting membership.
2. The Council have elected the following officers:-
Chairman Mr. R. Kirkby Vice Chairman Mrs. E. Chamberlain Treasurer Mr. B. Stubbs Deputy Treasurer Mrs. D. Harris.
3. It is interesting to note that whilst the membership of the RSPCA (i.e. the Voting membership) has sunk to 19,010, the membership of the Cats Protection League is in excess of 40,000.
We believe that it is the unacceptably unkind treatment of members excluding them from active work in the branches together with cruel character assassination that is the cause of this poor support. No attempt has ever been made to improve this situation. No consideration is given by the Council or the senior staff to the responsible positions held in their local communities by the victims of this harassment. No consideration is given to the treatment of voluntary workers (by the Council or staff) many of whom would appreciate the workload described by a Regional Manager in the latest Animal Life. Voluntary workers are ‘on call’ twenty four hours a day, seven days a week and do not enjoy the perks and salary received by Regional Managers et al.
4. Watchdog receives a number of serious complaints from RSPCA members who have been unable to get satisfaction elsewhere. It is our policy to refer these complaints personally to a Council member whom we can rely on to take action rather than to headquarters and the Director General. you may like to know how we have helped in just four of these cases. We are always polite to members and answer their letters promptly. We pursue the complaint if necessary.
a) A complaint fully documented accompanied by photographs about a Pet Shop in Kent. We sent this to Mr. Forster when he was Chairman of the Council. He took action and we now have been told that the Pet Shop is to be prosecuted by the local authority.
b) A complaint about the animals in a Country Life Park was sent to Lewis Page (Regional Representative for the SW). he sent Watchdog a copy of the report from the investigating Inspector asking for it not to be distributed. He has promised to raise the matter on Council.
d) A complaint involving an Inspector was sent to Dorothy Adams who has spoken to Hilary Anyon (the then Vice Chairman) So far, we have not received a report.
e) A serious complaint from Wales was referred to Angela Walder. As legal action is involved she is taking he matter further.
5. We have received a complaint about the animals on Blackpool Pleasure Beach. This will be referred to the Captive Animal Protection Society.
6. We have received a distressing report about the treatment of horses used in the preparation of PREMARIN. This has been passed to Angela Walder.
We felt that you might like to see the other motions that were rejected for discussion at the AGM. We believe that motions 3 and 4 SHOULD have been on the AGENDA. Adverse publicity is already being published about the RSPCA and the actions of the Council. The members have a right to discuss this at the ONLY opportunity open to them - at the AGM.
2. Proposed by Mrs. D C Mansfield, seconded by Ms Diana Russell:
"That the salaries of top executive staff should be detailed in the Annual Report."
Reason: Council has now agreed that the Annual Accounts should in future contain details of senior staff salaries, in accordance with recommended accounting practices.
3. Proposed by Mrs. D C Mansfield, seconded by Mr. Michael Sutcliffe:
"That we deplore the NEED for adverse national publicity. This affects the morale of Branches and the image of the Society held by the public."
Reason: The meaning of the motion is extremely difficult to understand and a debate on it would in itself have the potential to cause adverse publicity, thereby causing detriment to the Society and its Branches.
4. Proposed by Mr. J Gourley, seconded by Mr. Fox:
"To encourage an equitable sharing of available funds for the treatment and care of companion animals owned by the most needy people, RSPCA Council should recommend, urgent cases excepted, that the criteria for almoning be receipt of Income Support, Family Credit, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit with others being assessed on merit."
Reason: This subject of this Motion is a question of policy and as such is a matter for the RSPCA Council and not for the Annual General Meeting.
5. Proposed by Mrs. J Haggard, seconded by Mrs. S Fulcher:
"That the Council shall make every effort to find, and adopt, an efficient means of pre-home checking, nationwide, as the present method of relying on volunteers from the Branches is unsatisfactory in some areas and non existent in others. This must mean that many prospective new homes are lost by lack of personnel to visit them. The need for reliable checking is becoming even greater with the establishment of further RSPCA Animal Centres in the near future."
Reason: It is considered that the problem outlined in the motion is the concern of individual Branches and should not be the subject of a general edict. It is felt that the Motion would be more suitable for discussion at the Animal Welfare Conference, which follows on after the AGM.
RESTORE THE AGM TO ITS FULL LENGTH AND LET THE MEMBERS SPEAK.
HAVE AN OPEN SOCIETY WITH THE COUNCIL IN FULL CONTROL AND ANSWERABLE TO THE MEMBERS.
Thank you for all your letters, phone calls and donations. You write and say "Keep up the good work". We will. Let us know when members are treated badly. Let us know when animals suffer. REMEMBER animals need people to help them, people cannot work for animals if they are booted out of branches without good reason.
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