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 74 July 1999
The RSPCA - A SECRET SOCIETY?
Those in power seek to remain in power. To do so they need control over what people know think and believe. (W F Fore Yale University)
RSPCA Freedom Foods.
Viva! Has policy of not criticising other animal groups but we can no longer adhere to it in this instance. Over the years, people have consistently told us that they belief Freedom Foods to mean that animals are free and not factory farmed. Meat and eggs approved by the RSPCA do not have to come from free range animals. The Freedom Foods leaflet makes this clear and sets out the organisations pragmatic aim – to improve intensive farming.
We’re not suggesting that conditions for Freedom Food pigs necessarily break the law but we are saying that the conditions inside factory farmed pig units are shocking to most people who care about animal welfare.
It is one thing to work for the improvement of of factory farming, it is quite another to profit from it. For an organisation whose sole remit is to work for animals, it’s support of factory farming is incomprehensible and unacceptable.
The RSPCA effectively condones treatment which would cause an outcry if applied to domestic animals. It is time it was stopped.
Spring 1999 Viva! LIFE21
It seems that the RSPCA has become a secret society. Criticism is forbidden Those that dare to break the absurd ’confidentiality rules’ by questioning what is happening are disciplined whether on Council or seeking branch membership. It is not unknown for a Council member to be reduced to tears by unkind treatment from other Council members How can Council members make sound decisions if information is withheld from them?
The RSPCA is swimming in money ( £119 million in 1996) and appears to be adrift in a sea of under achievement. After 174 years of the Society’s existence, last year there was a reported increase of 17% in cruelty to animals. Having had orders from the Charity Commission to reduce the Society’s reserves to £45 million, the RSPCA sent out a letter asking every member to give £15 to for 16 new Inspectors. The cost of this was estimated at £688,000 for the first year. PEANUTS compared to the £2 million being given to Freedom Food for advertising. WHAT IS HAPPENING TO ALL THE MILLIONS THE RSPCA HAS BEEN ORDERED TO SPEND if £688,000 cannot be afforded for extra Inspectors
All of this should tell even the most stupid person that the RSPCA is sending out
THE WRONG MESSAGE
Freedom Food is a prime example of the wrong message.
What VIVA! LIFE has said in the above extract is right. Support for Freedom Food Ltd is incomprehensible and unacceptable.
IT IS TIME THAT IT WAS STOPPED.
Red meat and dairy products are unhealthy for humans.
The RSPCA should NOT be in league with the meat trade.
The RSPCA can work for the improvement of animal farming without selling meat.
RSPCA MEMBERS OPEN DAY (20.4.99) by David Craig Mawson.
I set off for Horsham on Tuesday morning feeling quite depressed and upset, having seen the final episode of that dreadful "Animal Police" programme in which six newborn puppies were killed by a trainee Inspector only because there was nowhere to put them.
I arrived at HQ at 10am. Over an introductory cup of tea, the Head of Branches, Liz Flitton came dashing over to introduce herself. (She didn’t do that to any of the other members, though). She was very pleased that I had turned up and she then became quite worried when I said that I had a number of questions to ask.
The DG came rushing in to give his introductory speech; he was dressed as though he was about to set off .............!! He informed all the members that the RSPCA is doing an excellent job in the cause of animal welfare but he did mention that a small amount of people are out to criticise the RSPCA (I hope he was not talking about Watchdog) and went on to congratulate his staff as usual. He never once mentioned the ANIMALS! He left the room after about ten minutes but promised us all that he would join us for lunch to answer any questions. I wanted to put five questions to him. But what a surprise he failed to keep his promise ( just like when he appeared on his Back to the Floor programme and promised the children that their two dogs would be re-homed but one of them was killed by the RSPCA). There were five presentations until lunch by the following departments: Wildlife, Research Animals, Farm Animals, Fundraising and Inspectorate/SOU. I raised various questions to the staff, but the officers were unwilling to answer in public (as usual) and the other members booed and murmured at what t was asking. At this stage I was becoming very angry.
The RSPCA provided a buffet lunch which was meant to be vegetarian but had the odd ham sandwich lingering around which the other members and staff enjoyed !
After lunch we had the "Grand Tour" to see how the hierarchy runs the Society. We were shown the International Dept. (who were not aware nor bothered by the gassing of collie dogs in Western Australia being carried out by a RSPCA official), then onto the Education, Prosecution, Legacies, Animal Establishments, Branches, Supporter Care, Parliamentary and finally Publications. I raised a number of questions in some of these departments, but realised soon enough that it was better to keep my mouth shut, given the hostility shown by members of another Branch. The same members caused chaos in the Publications Department because photographs of their Branch’s wine & cheese party had been lost and not published in Inside News (Aaah!). Apart from the very friendly Director of Prosecutions, there was never any mention of animals, just efficiency of administration, advice on how to rake in more money to bump up the £106 million reserves, and generally a lot of patting each other on the back... What shocked me the most was the amount of administration staff that is employed at HQ and there is even a department to POLICE the Branches. What a waste of money!
At the end of the day the DG reappeared to wrap up the day (no apologies for not joining us for lunch.. surely he could make an effort once a year! ) The final question of the day was from me, asking the DG his opinion on Hillgrove Farm: he was satisfied that no cruelty was taking place and therefore there was no reason for the RSPCA to get involved (so kittens under six weeks old being sold to labs or being eaten by their own mother because of stress is not cruelty!).
I came away feeling as disillusioned as before about the RSPCA; going to the Open Day did not change my view on the apparent waste of hard earned animal welfare funds towards the upkeep of bureaucrats... Hopefully I’ll be elected to Council this year and will try to get a better deal for the animals whose welfare is often forgotten by our Society !
Mon, 29 Mar 1999 19:4S:12 +1000
From: Patty Mark
Subject: [Fwd:-AU Australian rescue at battery hen farm]
enclosed message AIJ Australian rescue at battery hen farm
The ACTION ANIMAL RESCUE TEAM held a successful press conference today. at the RSPCA (Channel 9 and 10 NEWS both can excellent stories Following are the two press releases:
ACTION ANIMAL RESCUE TEAM media release Monday March 19 1999 am-
RSPCA MISLEADS PUBLIC Barn Eggs a Sham
Distressing undercover footage taken by the ACTION ANIMAL RESCUE TEAM on the weekend proves the RSPCA is misleading the public and letting down the animals it is there to serve.
"RSPCA APPROVED" barn-laid eggs are a sham and the footage exposes the RSPCA accreditation scheme as false and misleading The RSPCA are making money (they receive royalties for all eggs sold) by giving their seal of approval for a cruel and unnecessary system of intensive farming. The footage taken at PACE FARMS in South Morang clearly shows young birds grossly overcrowded and crammed together like maggots on metal flooring. There is not enough floor space for the hens to even stand side by side. The water and food outlets have birds hanging off them desperately trying to find a small space. The birds were all severely debeaked a nasty painful mutilation that causes chronic suffering RSPCA endorsement stipulates the hens be kept 5' birds per square metre. The rescue team were astounded on entering the shed to find the birds restricted and contained on metal flooring in a small area while the majority of the shed was empty.
These eggs are marketed as "LIBERTY EGGS" and the RSPCA logo assures buyers the birds have "litter to dustbathe in, perches to roost on" and the beak mutilation must be limited to "tipping only of the hook of the upper mandible", The property is owned by PACE FARMS, the largest battery egg producer in Australia and over 150,000 battery hens are kept in cages in other sheds.
The manager is Steve Colla son of the owner of HAPPY HENS, a notorious Victorian battery egg farm that the RSPCA have repeatedly failed to prosecute despite evidence of cruelty. The RSPCA business partnership with Australian battery hen farmers compromises their obligations in the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. The RSPCA have betrayed the public's trust and considering it's currently RSPCA AWARENESS WEEK, it's time they start giving some answers.
Patty Mark, Diana Simpson and Debra Tranter, the three women who did the undercover inspection are taking two badly debeaked hens they rescued and their footage to the RSPCA headquarters (3 Burwood Highway, Surwood) at noon today to demand some answers.
The Director RSPCA VIC has admitted they were not aware of the unacceptable conditions on their Barn-Laid Egg properties. Patty Nark has said "It concerns me greatly that the RSPCA are business partners in this industry It is obvious that if our rescue team were not regularly inspecting the egg industry, the RSPCA would continue to turn a blind eye". International Committee PLEASE NOTE. A second complaint about an affiliated society.
Stray pets could be organ donors
ORGAN transplants for pets are about to get the go-ahead – with strays as donors. British Veterinary Association is said to be about to give vets the right to save the lives of cats and dogs by transplanting kidneys from healthy animals which would otherwise be put down. The BVA has discussed the proposal three times recently and looks set to raise the issue again this summer in order lo lay down guidelines. The procedure, already common in the US, is unheard of in the UK where vets are split over the ethics of organ transplants.
NEWS and VIEWS
We could be forgiven for thinking that this news item from Metro 20/4/99 is the reason why the RSPCA Council is against setting up - spaying and neutering clinics as a matter of urgency. Do they not want to reduce the number of unwanted animals? In 1994,the then RSPCA Council passed a resolution to set up such clinics as soon as funds were available. There can be no doubt that funds are available as well as the experience of Celia Hammond’s successful London clinics. So why the delay?
RSPCA Brands sign Campaign libellous
THE RSPCA has launched an investigation after signs criticising its fundraising were placed outside Swansea's Llys Nini animal shelter and on main routes in the city yesterday. The charity has pledged to track down those responsible and is considering legal action. It says the signs are incorrect and libellous and could damage its ability to do vital animal rescue and protection work. So far no one has claimed responsibility for the signs which the RSPCA has vowed to remove wherever they are spotted South West Wales RSPCA spokesman Huw Evans "We would love to talk in the people responsible. We have our suspicions but obviously we cannot say this stage. Notices were first put on the gate of Llys Nini on Wednesday morning and the rest appeared along the city's main roads yesterday. -, "We gather they have also been sent to selected surgeons in Swansea as well The signs say such things as "£119 in the bank and scrounging for more" "Naturally we are taking the allegations very seriously indeed as we believe they arc libellous -"The animal sanctuary in Llys Nini is branch run. It is an autonomous charity which means it exists outside the main body of the charity and is funded entirely by the people of Swansea "If we had that kind of money then obviously we would spend it and not ask for donations. This whole campaign is misinformed and bizarre".
S.Wales Evening Post 9/4/99
Huw Evans, the SW Wales RSPCA spokesman does not seem very well informed about RSPCA funds. The Sunday Times stated that in 1996 the RSPCA had £ll9 million and in 1998,the reserves were £106 MILLION
Instead of enriching lawyers with legal action - why not enrich the lives of animals?
Apparently the Director General has stated that he was satisfied that no cruelty is taking place at Hillgrove Farm and sees no reason for the RSPCA to get involved. He obviously knows better than Maureen Hutchison BSc,BVMS,MRCVS who says – "To deprive cats of fresh air, the wind in their whiskers and the sun on their backs is an abuse." Maureen recommends that kittens are weaned no earlier than 8 weeks.
The Hillgrove Farm kittens are sold at 5 weeks old without their mothers and as young as 13 days with their mother. We wonder what ex Army Peter Davies thinks about the treatment of animals at Porton Down. We wonder if a career in the armed forces is a good qualification for managing a charity for preventing cruelty to animals. It is a question that is being asked outside the RSPCA in relation to other charities. It would seem more appropriate to appoint a Chief Executive who has worked in animal welfare.
SOUTH EAST REGION CONFERENCE 1999 A personal view by Margaret House.
Having been refused membership by my local branch (Surrey East) without being given any reason by the Chairman Mrs. Unmack or the Director General, I was delighted to be accepted by the friendly and efficient Isle of Sheppey branch. I attended the conference as a branch delegate. It was a good meeting where the other branch delegates were lively,well informed and keen to question. I had the added bonus of a friendly greeting from the conference chairman, Daphne Harris and Dr Suckling, the deputy DG.
Angela Walder gave a very entertaining speech in support of her request for consideration to be given to the possibility of operating neutering clinics which will double up as out of hours emergency clinics. Angela criticised ineffective ’talk shops’ and too much bureaucracy for taking too little action. She described how irresponsible owners caused cruelty to animals by allowing too many unwanted animals to be born. Somewhere along the line she produced a large tin of baked beans to prove her point! She poured scorn on the academic research into "Temperament Assessment of Dogs in Homing Centres" (presented earlier in the conference) because far too many factors had not been taken into account. The audience with ’hands on’ experience in rehoming agreed with her and applauded and supported her proposal.
Celia Hammond gave a clear and detailed account of the success of her London neuter clinic which pays for itself. Tired of waiting for the RSPCA to get to the root of the problem of unwanted animals, she opened her first clinic in Lewisham in 1995. Her vets have neutered 27,000 animals and vaccinated 30,000. Celia has no confidence in the Southampton Report which the RSPCA is using as an excuse not to set up clinics. It is clear that building more animal homes does not solve the problem as they get filled with many animals that cannot be rehomed and have to be killed.
Council member Dorothy Adams reported on a resolution passed by Council in April 1994 to set up neutering clinics when the money was available. When the money was available, the resolution was not implemented forcing Dorothy to put another resolution to Council in Nay 1999 asking that the 1994 resolution be implemented forthwith. This was not done and will have to go back YET AGAIN for further discussion The Chairman of Council, a Mr. M Tomlinson was present at the Conference but he failed to comment.
Another interesting debate followed an update on Freedom Foods by Dr Suckling. A branch member wanted to know where the farms were as someone she knew had got a job at a Freedom Food Farm but when she reported for work she was sent down the road to a very different farm existing side by side with the Freedom Food Farm! Despite a very weak comment from the aforesaid Mr. N Tomlinson, the meeting was highly critical. For once the staff were silenced!
There were two very disappointing items. The Director of Operations, Peter Wright was asked to explain the 1% legacy rule in detail. Instead of preparing a precis of a lengthy legal opinion he read out a section in a monotonous voice which was, frankly, boring. The Regional Education Officer. Miss Gill Watson was due to talk on Education in the Region’ which sadly turned out to be a brief ’haven’t we done well’ sort of talk. I had a chat with her later which was even more disappointing. I cannot help being critical because I remember the excellence of the Education Department under Cindy Milburn and the pleasure of working with a forward looking department.
Listening to the people present and to the Director of Operations only reinforced my opinion that the RSPCA desperately needs a Chairman of Council who is well informed, NATIONALLY KNOWN and with the vision to be able to lead the Society FORWARD.
A Member Writes
Is it true? The RSPCA Inspectorate appears not happy that their existing vans (Vauxhall Astras) are to be replaced by Postman Pat vans. The rumour is that this is taking place because a small number of Northern inspectors complained that it was difficult to get their children into the rear of the Vauxhalls. Surely it is for the practical everyday use of animal welfare that these vans are provided. How about an inspectorate referendum on the matter or does this smack of too much democracy for the RSPCA?
A Matter of Concern
The unpleasant and bullying tone in the last two paragraphs of Mr Gerry Lloyd’s Election Address raises 3 serious issues.
1. How does Mr. Lloyd know so much about Council meetings? He left RSPCA employment in 1995 and is NOT a branch member. Can we assume that leaks about PRESENT Council business came from his ELEVEN Council supporters or his erstwhile colleagues on the staff?
2. Surely, Mr Lloyd should know that the Chairman of Council is responsible for approving the Agenda and for controlling verbose Council members. Instead Mr Lloyd arrogantly states that "I intend to be hard on those who forget that no one really cares about the hot air they expend". By this statement he seems to infer that the Chairman is not up to the job! (Having read Mr. Tomlinson’s (Council Chairman) election address we wonder if it is possible to give full attention to being Chairman of Council as well as being a Regional Representative AND branch Chairman. We note that Mr. Tomlinson does not mention his "interest in a sandwich business". Is this a conflict of interest seeing that Freedom Food Ltd is involved with the meat trade??? THE WATCHDOGS)
3. Is it good PR for Mr. Lloyd to refer to the "blather" and’"hot air" in relation to Council members? It is a very divisive comment.
"The Inspector does not visit persons subjected to anonymous or hearsay complaints."
The following is a newspaper clipping.................Confused? We are.
Sir--An RSPCA inspector came to investigate an anonymous call. The complaint was that our dog's nails were too long and that he was overweight. Having satisfied himself on the state of the nails and weight, he proceeded to fire questions in a very Captain Mainwaring style as to what other animals we kept, how long we had lived in Swindon and how I kept myself busy.
Surely the state of a dogs nails does not warrant an investigation of this scale. Is this what my donations have been funding.
N.MADDISON. Swindon, Wilts.
So some inspectors investigate anonymous complaints. Others do not. Is there not a common policy? In 1998, the inspectors investigated 124,374 complaints - how many of those were genuine?
Thank you for all your support. We appreciate donations towards postage etc. Our aim, as always, is an open, democratic RSPCA with better treatment of voluntary workers.
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