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.
|Watchdog Newsletter Number 73 May 1999
Tel 01293 786166
PLEASE THINK BEFORE YOU VOTE (In the RSPCA Council Elections)
It is the duty of RSPCA Council members as trustees to monitor all areas of the Society’s work and evaluate its performance and progress. In other words, they must check the day to day operations of the Society and not just rely on the Dictator General or staff to put forward the information they think trustees need to have. How many Council members do this? How many even know how to set about doing it? With few exceptions, Council members only seem to come to life when attacking Council colleagues or when "disciplining" hard working volunteer members. To have a hope of ending the widespread abuse of animals we need a higher quality Council.
IT IS TIME FOR A CHANGE
To help you to elect the sort of Council the animals need, we will in this Watchdog, assess various aspects of the RSPCA’s operations and suggest how Council members could radically improve the Society.
At the bottom of this page is an article from the Daily Mail and the view of the late Lord Houghton expressed in a letter to his friends June and Graham Page in 1993.
The following is a write up by Peter Patterson 9/2/99
MANY people will have been shocked at seeing in last night’s Animal Police, a new series on the training of RSPCA inspectors, how the animal charity puts into practice the concept of being cruel to be kind.
Each of the trainees is required to attend a slaughterhouse, where they have to fire a bullet or bolt into the brain of a cow – or, more likely because of the way their hands are shaking, to need two attempts to despatch their animal.
The distracting thought occurred to me that it would be very strange indeed if the Army adopted a similar style of realistic training, with recruits expected to kill a human being in preparation for the real thing. Can’t these things be simulated?
The RSPCA’s pragmatic argument is that on a frosty morning on the Welsh hills; or on a motorway, an inspector might have to kill a large animal – a horse, perhaps, or a runaway circus tiger – so he or she had better be prepared emotionally and technically.
But the pragmatism surely has to be balanced against the distressing effect on the trainee: one young man was in tears after his experience in the slaughterhouse and another con- confessed to butterflies in his stomach "as big as eagles".
Most of these would-be inspectors are idealistic young people attracted by the idea of helping animals and ending cruelty. Yet, as well as personally having to kill a cow, they learn that the organisation they wish join despatches 90,000 animals a year – "most of them sick or injured" – and that, assuming they pass the course, they will often be expected to kill. It is a dimension that might cause concern to those who donate money to the RSPCA.
No wonder that out of 2,000 applicants a year, only 20 or so ever make it through the training to become inspectors – a figure that suggests there is something wrong with their recruitment advertising. If, less emphasis were placed on the protection of animals and more on the compulsory slaughterhouse visit perhaps there would be fewer applicants and less wastage. There are, after all, only 300 or so inspectors in the entire country.
Although the RSPCA is no doubt delighted to co-operate in the filming of a ten-part docu-soap in the belief that even more money will pour into the coffers of one of Britain’s richest charities, other questions might arise in the minds of viewers.
From what, we saw in this opening episode (and the series title), RSPCA inspectors are encouraged to regard themselves as policemen – and their ranking system uniforms, a dress code forbidding long hair or dirty shoes, a knowledge of the 100 or more laws affecting animals, and powers of entry and seizure, in combination worryingly blur the line between the police force and the RSPCA inspectorate.
Can we quite trust a cow-killing RSPCA inspector like an old time copper.
"I don't like the way the Inspectors are dressed and act as if they were the police. Cruelty to animals is a matter of public policy not wholly one for volunteer or charitable effort. There is a point of public policy relating to the rights of citizenship."
We were shocked to learn that RSPCA trainee inspectors are STILL practising their shooting skills on living, sentient animals. It is cruel to both man and beast.. With such outdated and inhumane training for inspectors, we wonder if the following procedure (so vividly described by an inspector 10 years ago) is also STILL included in the training.
"We were taken to a local society animal home, here we were to be shown by the local Inspector a practical demonstration in the killing of dogs by a .32 pistol. Myself and colleagues witnessed the Inspector place dog food on the ground. He then returned with a brown mongrel dog from the kennel held on a grasper. The dog was wagging its tail obviously in a state of excitement having been freed from the confines of its kennel. The dog instinctively bent its head to eat the meat laid in front of him. At this exact point, the Inspector shot the animal in the top of its head. The dog dropped instantly with thick blood coming from its mouth, ears and nose, smoke was seen coming from the hole now in the animals head. This exercise was repeated again with another dog to demonstrate the effectiveness of the guns that were later to be included in our equipment. These two healthy dogs were destroyed because the kennels were full and no homes" could be found. This exercise shocked myself and colleagues, one who had served several years in the army had to turn away in a flood of tears."
HOW MANY MORE ANIMALS MUST BE ALLOWED TO SUFFER AND BE DESTROYED UNNECESSARILY?
Why are the millions of pounds that the Society has invested not spent on national cheap spaying and neutering clinics? Is it because the RSPCA has made an agreement with the British Veterinary Association not to neuter animals on a national scale?
We are also worried about the blurring of the line between RSPCA Inspectors and the police and the effect on the rights of citizens. We do NOT agree with Miss Reid (elected to Council last year) that the inspectors should have wider powers. It may not have crossed Miss Reid’s mind that the police have a police complaints procedure but the RSPCA has NO impartial procedure for investigating complaints.
Malicious complaints of cruelty to animals cause a lot of distress to innocent people. The malicious complainer is protected by confidentiality whilst the inspector’s time is wasted and dogs in need are left suffering 1t should not be beyond the ability of trustees to have a policy for dealing with malicious calls. BUT do they even know how many malicious calls are received in a year and the cost to the Society of wasted time? Instead of repeating the mantra handed down by the staff that cruelty would not be reported if anonymity was dropped – why not find a wording that does not guarantee confidentiality to malicious callers?
Instead of trotting out hackneyed phrases about the inspectors like the "backbone of the Society" and "the front line of our work", Council candidates standing for re-election should let the members know if they have EVER monitored the training of inspectors, have EVER visited a slaughter house or put forward a policy to regularly review the training of inspectors. WE BELIEVE that ex servicemen are NOT the right people to be involved in the training of inspectors. WE BELIEVE it is the duty of the individual Council members to monitor the procedures of the Society and if they do not know how to do this, they should not be on the Council.
THE ANIMALS NEED A STRONG COUNCIL
RSPCA COUNCIL CANDIDATES ELECTION ADDRESSES -Can we believe them?
We give just one example to illustrate the point: –
In 1998 Mr Jo Saxton wrote in his election address under the heading of "My Agenda For The Next 3 Years": –
"We need an end to fox hunting". But Mrs. Burton who has stated that she does not agree with the RSPCA ban on fox hunting and feels that fox hunting is the best method of controlling foxes WAS ONE OF HIS NOMINEES Does this make sense???
Do you think that Council members the majority of their nominations for them to pass their nomination Surely, they should get out to the who stand for re election should have from other Council members? So easy papers to each other at council meetings grass roots for approval and nomination.
Council members are NOT allowed to know where the Freedom Food Farms are situated. Council members have ignored clear photographic evidence from Celia Hammond of the awful conditions on a lorry carrying Freedom Food chickens and disregarded the evidence on a TV programme about the St.Merryn Meat abattoir where Freedom Food meat was mixed up with other meat. YET these same Council members vote to give away MILLIONS OF POUNDS of the Society’s money to prop up Freedom Food Ltd -another charity whose objects differ from those of the RSPCA.
THINK about these things when you vote for Council members.
On the Web Site from Western Australia
In the days up to 1987,when members were given better information, we knew that RSPCA West Australia was affiliated to the RSPCA. Is it still affiliated?
Animal Liberation (NA) was informed by members of the public that the Collie Shire (200km Perth) was gassing its pound dogs and cats with car exhaust. Within 24 hours a team co–ordinated by Animal Liberation WA President Michael Zampogna and Vice-President Jenny Caleno was sent to investigate. What they found was worse than they expected. Puppies (5) housed with kittens. No appropriate food Rancid water. No shelter from heat or cold. And a gas chamber the size of a large oven the inside floor of which was littered with faeces and the walls scratched from panicking animals as they were slowly gassed in this rusty, leaking steel box. The gas chamber was in such a poor state that the operator. was exposed to car fumes as well. Videos and stills were taken.
Worse still was the discovery by Animal Liberation WA that an RSPCA appointed Special Constable was the person who had been gassing animals this way for over 10 years and that he has claimed the RSPCA had known about the gassing since at least March 1998
BRANCH COMMITTEES Did you know that on 26/3.98 the RSPCA Herts West Branch received £15,000 from the National Lottery to "Support owners of sick animals who are unable to meet their veterinary fees". Isn’t this what ALL branches do???
THE LIVESTOCK EXPORT CONTROL BILL was introduced in Parliament by Mr. M. Clark Hutchison, M.P. on the 9th August, l966 its purpose to end the export for slaughter of cattle sheep, goats and pigs. The bill is due for Second Reading on 2nd DECEMBER l966.
The animal welfare societies listed overleaf fully support the bill. There is no convincing argument to justify a continued traffic in live animals for slaughter overseas. Such a traffic could be satisfactorily replaced by a carcass trade.
In 1965, no fewer than 639,683 cattle, sheep and pigs were exported, among them old cows which had provided us with their calves and with milk, butter and cream. To subject them to the hardship of a long journey by road rail and sea to be killed in a foreign slaughterhouse is a disgrace to a civilised country.
In this country, there are now slaughterhouses specially licensed and approved to cope with an export trade in carcass meat. Modern refrigerated transport is available to convey the meat quickly to the Continent.
Those animals to be exported frequently travel very long distances before arriving at the embarkation ports. Once abroad, there can be no guaranteeing their proper and humane treatment, whatever precautions may be taken in this country. Existing regulations, whereby the animals must be rested and examined for fitness to travel prior to export and the assurances required of the importing countries are but palliatives.
The movement of animals by any form of transport involves fatigue and stress, and often suffering.
The Veterinary Record – Official organ of the British Veterinary Association – has criticised the traffic in live animals for slaughter abroad: an editorial comment published on the 30th October, 1965, stated: "Even were conditions ideal, existing knowledge of animal psychology... makes it certain that the transport of livestock by road or rail, followed by the loading into ships, the unloading and further transport to a place of slaughter can hardly be justified to say the least, in terms of humanity. The case for slaughter before export is strong."
The Rt. Hon. Christopher Soames (then Minister of Agriculture) on the 11th May, l964, said in the House of Commons: "Undoubtedly, the best way, from all points of view, of exporting meat is in carcass form."
Mr. John Mackie, Permanent Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, on the 24th June, 1966, stated in the House of Commons that "Her Majesty’s Government simply have no jurisdiction over what happens to animals on the other side."
Substantial evidence shows that, on economic as well as humane grounds, our food animals should not be exported for slaughter. Nearly all the animals involved are bred and reared through direct and indirect agricultural subsidies and grants, provided by the tax-payer. Many meat trade interests have expressed their opposition to the export of animals for slaughter.
When live animals are exported valuable hides and other by-products are lost to us. An export carcass meat trade would mean more employment in this country.
Our imports of meat should be reduced. Last year, the cost of imported "Meat and Meat Preparations" amounted to £367,829,000 and to £l90,746,000 during the first half of 1966 – over £l-million per day!
There is an important trade in exporting valuable livestock for breeding and exhibition purposes, and that cannot be reasonably opposed. What is anomalous and wrong is that animals should be exported expressly for slaughter.
HOWEVER GOOD TRANSPORT CONDITIONS MAY BE, FOOD ANIMALS FOR EXPORT SHOULD BE SLAUGHTERED HUMANELY IN THIS COUNTRY AND SENT ABROAD AS CARCASS MEAT.
Mary Ashton sent this 1966 leaflet to Watchdog with the question "How much longer for such suffering to continue?" The leaflet was issued 33 years ago by the RSPCA, the Scottish SPCA, the Ulster SPCA, the Glasgow and West of Scotland SPCA and the Council of Justice for Animals and Humane Slaughter.
In trying to answer Mary’s question we began to wonder if the RSPCA is sending out the wrong message. Cruelty to animals is increasing NOT decreasing. It has been suggested that the RSPCA is afraid of ever doing anything which is likely to upset any establishment body or vested interest. The opening up of RSPCA membership to fox hunters gives credence to this view. It was NAVS Animal Defenders who obtained the evidence to convict Mary Chipperfield of cruelty to circus animals. It was Lynx not the RSPCA who mounted a campaign that devastated the fur trade. It was NOT the RSPCA that exposed the treatment of dogs at Huntingdon Life Sciences and the treatment of cats at Hillgrove farm.
Recently, the RSPCA has twice passed a resolution to set up cheap spaying and neutering clinics but NOTHING has been done. Dorothy Adams proposed these latest motions but members proposed similar motions at the 1988 AGM. It is the duty of the staff to implement Council decisions and the Council should see that resolutions ARE implemented. Why not set up cheap spaying neutering clinics in the North East of England where the need is greatest? There is plenty of evidence that such clinics would be effective in controlling the cat and dog population and the RSPCA has ample funds to do this.
THE RSPCA NEEDS A NEW STRONG COUNCIL and the animals need it FAST
CELIA HAMMOND is an outstanding member of the Council. We are proud to publish her views reported in the Mail on Sunday (28/3/99). She must not be victimised by other Council members for speaking the truth. We only hope that she will inspire members who are frightened to speak out to follow her example.
As this century draws to a close there is a growing recognition of the intelligence and powers of animals. There is a move to give legal rights to the great apes (humanity’s nearest genetic cousins) and a realisation that we do not have the right to kill animals for food, sport or medical research. For the benefit of human health and to prevent cruelty to animals, the RSPCA should be heavily promoting alternatives to meat, instead, Freedom Food is promoting the packaged bodies of sentient animals in supermarkets and failing to condemn the treatment of cats and kittens in Hillgrove Farm.
Celia's cat fight with the RSPCA
By Liz Sanderson
ANIMAL rights campaigner Celia Hammond is set to clash with the RSPCA over what she says is its failure to solve the problem of Britain’s 2.5 million stray cats and dogs.
The former Vogue cover girl has been on the charity’s board for 22 years and has been campaigning for a policy of sterilising strays.
Now she has launched a bitter attack on the organisation, whose short-sighted policy is, she says, increasing the strays on Britain’s streets.
She claims families are not willing pay the standard vet’s fee of £45 to have their pets neutered and the resulting unwanted offspring are often thrown on the streets.
The RSPCA refuses to encourage neutering by setting up low cost clinics. Miss Hammond has herself financed two such clinics in London, where 27,000 strays and pets have been neutered for only f15. each. She works closely with the Cats Protection League, which has warned of seven million strays by 2010 and argues that neutering is the only way to prevent them.
Last night she said: "I am speaking out with great regret but I have no hope that things will ever move forwards. Every day 4,000 homeless cats and dogs are destroyed throughout Britain. If that money was invested in reducing births, it would be much more productive."
A top model in the Sixties and Seventies, Miss Hammond turned her back on the glamorous lifestyle and made her Sussex home animal sanctuary. She now plans a network of clinics.
WHAT's GOING ON AT THE RSPCA
From the Hillgrove Campaign Newsletter No. 11
In recent national newspaper adverts taken out by the RSPCA to support the recent Fur Farming Bill they complained quite rightly:
"On farms, they (mink) are confined in rows of tiny cages. In such restricted conditions mink show abnormal behaviour. There are instances of fur biting and self mutilation"
You would hardly believe this is the same organisation who finds it perfectly ok for cats inside Hillgrove Farm to be kept for up to 10 years without ever seeing natural light with only 1.5 square feet per cat.
Incredible isn’t it that this is the same RSPCA talking about "abnormal behaviour" and "self-mutilation" but they find nothing wrong with the cats at Hillgrove Farm showing classic abnormal behaviour by eating / killing up to 10% of all new-born kittens at Hillgrove Farm.
Something stinks and we would like to know why the RSPCA have consistently been an enemy of the Hillgrove cats.
A BETTER COUNCIL
"Every effort should be made to introduce into the leadership of the RSPCA a person with national standing as well as qualities for leading the Royal Society." The Sparrow Report 1974
The only Chairman of national standing since then has been Richard Ryder. It is a tragedy for the RSPCA that his talents for leadership and his original thinking have been so neglected by those who have controlled the affairs of the Society in the 80's and 90's. The Society has had no President since Richard Adams was driven out by people of little vision. We have little hope that the present Council will improve matters. The choice of Leicester followed by Sheffield for the pathetic 1/2 day AGM only emphasises the down grading of the RSPCA. There are Regional Conferences galore - This Royal Society should hold its AGM in the capital city, London, home of its Royal Patron.
Members are complaining to Watchdog about lack of information from HQ, lack of openness, too much secrecy, the attitude of the paid staff to voluntary workers whilst complacent Council members, with few exceptions, seem unable to lift their eyes above parochial issues. It is a tragedy for the animals who desperately need protection from organised cruelty within the law. We must have Council members who can unite members in a common cause. The present arrogance, complacency, secrecy and intolerance will destroy the RSPCA if continued.
From The Campaigner July - December 1998
Pfizer, manufacturers of the impotence drug Viagra, have conducted barbaric experiments on beagles at their labs in Sandwich, Kent. Foreskins were removed from anaesthetised dogs, electrodes were implanted into their penises and electric shocks administered to stimulate the nerves which cause erections. Following the experiments, the animals were killed.
Viagra, dubbed "Pfizer riser" by satisfied customers, has already been responsible for a number of deaths amongst men.
Raystead Sanctuary Bulletin
In our quarantine kennels we have Teddy and Galgo, two beautiful greyhounds. They came to us from Spain where they were found with blood oozing from ropes around their necks. They had obviously managed to free themselves from the tree where they had been hung and left to die. Spanish farmers use greyhounds for hunting but only dogs in their prime are needed. Instead of having them humanely destroyed or even shooting them, the farmers hang them from trees in the forests. What ensues is a slow and agonising death. More and more greyhounds are being discovered this way and a recent survey in the area confirmed that not one vet had been called upon to euthanase a greyhound during the last year. We felt Teddy and Galgo were very deserving cases and we immediately agreed to quarantine them free of charge. New homes have already been found for them to go to once their quarantine period is over.
Off to where the grass is greener
From The Enfield Advertiser 20/1/99
By Justine Woods
THE young pony rescued by Advertiser staff had spent five months in the yard of a disused factory in Lockfield Avenue, Brimsdown
He had little shelter from the biting winds and driving rain that gripped the south east over Christmas and was surviving on stale bread and doughnuts tipped through a hole in the fence by his owner.
To one side of the disused yard is a small patch of waste ground Through a hole in the fence the pony often wandered into this rat-infested area which was filled with people's discarded rubbish including electrical items and sofas. Numerous telephone calls were made to the RSPCA by distressed factory workers and local residents who often visited the yard with carrots and apples.
But the RSPCA failed to move him. Its inspector John Storey, said the horse was being fed and that there was nothing else he could do. He claimed he had been negotiating to buy the horse from the owner and had someone ready to look after him, but that those negotiations had broken down.
But later in the same conversation with Advertiser staff, he claimed he did not have any details of the owner. He asked us to pass his details on and said that if we bought the pony the RSPCA could then find him a new home and gain publicity for the rescue.
Instead we arranged a new life for him ourselves at a specialist horse sanctuary.
The pony was spotted on New Year’s Eve ! by Advertiser photographer Vicky Alhadeff, on her way to an assignment in Lockfield Avenue.
Inquiries with local businesses revealed that the pony’s owner had sneaked him into the yard through a hole in the fence on the busy Mollison Avenue side of the premises five months ago. Many people said they had reported the pony to the RSPCA but were not aware of anything having been done to get him moved.
Despite’ the fence being tied up, the pony had escaped onto the main road on at least one occasion narrowly missing being killed by traffic.
News Editor Justine Woods, photographer Vicky Alhadeff and Editor Aaron Gransby came across the animal’s owner the following weekend at the yard and negotiated with him to buy the pony, who was named Junior by local children Marc Woolmer and David Brooks, who were among those bringing him food. When approached by the Advertiser, the owner Tom Tanner, of Appleyard Terrace, Enfield Wash, claimed he had permission to keep him in the yard and was looking to sell him.
But the Percy Bilton Group, which owns the yard, said he did not have permission. After agreeing to supply us with the keys to move the pony, the company generously offered to make a donation to the horse sanctuary.
Now, having spent the past week in stables in Crews Hill, Junior will be travelling to Cambridge for a gelding operation so that he can then join other horses on Friday at the Sussex Horse Rescue sanctuary where he can begin a new and comfortable life.
Thank you for all your letters, phone calls and donations which help to keep barking. Please think very carefully before voting in the elections for the RSPCA Council. We will be voting for David Mawson, a young man who is certainly not complacent, not afraid to speak out. With Best Wishes.
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