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 No 78
Tel: 01293 786166
year 2000 will mark the 13th year of RSPCA Members" Watchdog - our newsletter"s
first edition was in October 1987. Our aims remain the same. We want the RSPCA
Council to pursue animal abusers with vigour and to treat all members fairly
and justly - these aims have not yet been achieved.
When, in 1988, Watchdog came under threat from the RSPCA Council, three Vice President of the Society wrote these words:-
"We believe that members of the Society have the right to meet together and express concern over the policies, organisation or methods adopted by their society and, if necessary, to communicate that concern to other members -by way of newsletters."
Clive Hollands Lord Houghton of Sowerby Edward Carpenter
WE HAVE ONE PRIORTY ANIMALS MUST COME FIRST
In this the first newsletter of the year 2000, we are reviewing cruelty to animals and our concerns about the RSPCA Council.
In 1984, Les Ward wrote in his study "The Role of Low, Cost Spay/Neuter Clinics in the Control of Stray and Unwanted Animals"-
"To rely on euthanasia or killing the unwanted as we have always done will continue to help, but help is all it will do it will never get to the root of the problem and surely in a modern society, this method of control must now be considered unacceptable.
So, could the introduction of Local Authority or privately operated low cost spay/neuter clinics in this country offer a solution?
From the information provided by this "Study", I would say "yes" or at the very least - it is certainly worth a "Pilot Scheme"".
"For years,arguments against the establishment of low cost neuter clinics have been put toward in Council by various representatives of the veterinary profession. Unfortunately for the animals, the majority of Council members have been swayed by these arguments."
We think that Council members should consider the trauma caused to the Inspectors when they have to carry out the unnecessary killing of healthy animals. Animal homes do not solve the problem of increasing numbers of unwanted animals. Always remember that Vets are answerable to their customers and not to their patients.
IN 1991 we published the following comment: -
"There is nothing amusing about the RSPCA deciding to sit on a committee with the Research Defence Society (RDS) whieh was,of course,set up to defend ALL animal research Other members of this newly formed committee though wearing other hats,are themselves members of the RDS and one was recently seen to comment in the RDS newsletter that "cruelty is a natural phenonomen".
We are left wondering why it is that the RSPCA is so tolerant of those who speak for the continued abuse of the animal creation whilst condemning and villyfying those of their own members who are for the rights and welfare of animals but whose views on the way forward may not always coincide with their own."
TWENTY THREE YEARS have passed since the RSPCA Council was told about the lack of proper regulation over animal experimentation during a symposium at Trinity College Cambridge.
Guardian newspaper reported little has changed on the 22/9/99:
The home office refuses to release the names of scientists who have broken regulations in experiments on animals, although in one research project the breaches were so serious that the further use of animals was banned.
A total of 17 infringements of regulations surrounding animal experiments was reported in 1998. The Guardian requested details of these infringements under the open government code introduced by the last government.
The home office replied that identities of the researchers concerned had to be protected to prevent possible attacks by animal rights extremists. A spokeswoman said researchers provided information in con fidence to the home office, making the data exempt from disclosure.
Jan Creamer, the director of the National Anti-Vivisection Society, said: "If researchers have broken rules set up to protect laboratory animals, people have a right to know details. It"s nonsense to argue that confidentiality is necessary because scientists fear reprisals. Researchers" names and locations are freely available because they regularly publish results of their work in scientific magazines.
"We want to see an end to these feeble excuses put forward to protect an industry that simply can"t justify itself without hiding behind this veil of secrecy."
In Britain, 2.6m experiments a year are carried out on living animals, mainly mice and rats.
Scientists who want to do such experiments must apply for a licence from the home office. The home office said it granted licences only when the benefits of research outweighed the pain, suffering, or lasting harm that might be experienced by animals.
Each establishment requires a licence; another is needed for each project at these establishments; and each researcher on these projects requires one. Each licence sets out how experiments are to be done. Inspectors scrutinise applications and visit laboratories to check compliance.
A summary of infringements is given in the annual report of the animal procedures committee, which advises the home secretary, Jack Straw, on animal experiments.
This summary is shorn of all names of researchers and laboratories. One licence was revoked, but the misdemeanour is not specified. In another case, a researcher was banned and the ban was overturned on appeal; again, no details of the circumstances of this case are given. The reportsays "as in previous years, the nature of the infringements varied from the relatively minor and technical to the more serious". It adds: "Infringements are relatively rare events... but they can provoke intense and lengthy discussions within the committee."
Some 14 infringements occurred in universities, the other three in commercial labs. In 15 cases, experiments were conducted outside stipulated terms of licences. Seven project leaders were required to review controls to prevent further unauthorised tests.
The committee is reviewing the question of disclosure.
Tomorrow: Censorship, prevarication, and political intrigue at the British Museum - plus more individuals and organisations support the Guardian"s campaign to strengthen the freedom of information bill.
Shamrock Customer Wins Animal Aid"s "Mad Science" Award
Animal Aid"s Mad Science Awards(AAMSA) - handed out for pointless and grotesque experiments, highlighted current research on a , group of ten macaques at the Institute of Neurology, a Shamrock customer.
The experiment at the London based lnstitute was a collaboration with the Departrnent of Physiology at Germany"s Kiel University and funded by the Wellcome Trust. One cat and ten rnacaque monkeys were used to investigate how the organisation of nerves differs between species.
The cat and monkeys were anaesthetised and their left arms dissected to expose nerves to which electrodes were attached. A large section of their backbone was cut open to expose their spinal cord and a hole was cut in their skull to expose their brain. They were paralysed and held in a frame during the time taken for the experiment (24-30 hours). Electrodes inserted into their brains were used to send electrical impulses and the response measured using electrodes inserted into their spinal cord.
The experiment revealed that the nerve pathways in macaque rnonkeys and cats are different, that extrapolating research from cats to humans in the recent past had probably been misleading and that applying results from cats about their nerve pathway to man ond other primates should be regarded with great caution. However, the authors do not comment on the fact that species differences of this sort raise major questions over the relevance to humans of other research on the neurological systems of cats - and indeed over the general relevance of animal research. For further information on the awards, contact: Animal Aid, The Old Chapel, Bradford Street, Tonbridge, TN9 I AW. Phone 01732 364546
Live dogs were butchered
THE British Heart Foundation has been criticised for funding an experiment in which 14 dogs had their chests and abdomens split open before being killed at the University of Leeds.
Researchers tied off arteries and veins in unconscious dogs during heart and blood research before killing them by draining their blood.
Animal rights campaigners are outraged that the university agreed to carry out the experiment. last year and that the British Heart Foundation provided £70,000 towards the cost of the study.
Jan Creamer, director of the National Anti-Vivisection Society, branded the research shocking and said she was appalled the Home Office had granted a licence for the study. She said: "The silly part about this is that in the research paper it specifically pointed out that there are differences between dogs and humans.
"Over the last six months they have used ferrets, rats, mice, fish, sheep, pigs, bats, frogs, snails and chickens."
A spokesman for the BHF said the dogs were unconscious and would not have suffered. He added: "We would only fund something if our rescearch committees believed it to be justified
We wanted you to read these two items as well as the press cutting on page 2 for two reasons. You will notice that there is no comment from the RSPCA - NAVS yes and Animal Aid. Whenever the question of campaigning against animal experiments is raised some Council member will bleat out the excuse that one must consider the benefit to mankind. Is it not time that the RSPCA set about exposing experiments that are clearly not of benefit to humans and time to set up a non charitable group with a separate fund raising scheme?
Why did the RSPCA not condemn the Hillgrove Cat Farm? Why were the Huntingdon Life Sciences not exposed by the RSPCA? Huntingdon Life Sciences would have closed down but for the money provided by the NatWest bank. There is a former NatWest employee on the Council,did SHE protest to her former employer? Is the RSPCA Council complaining about Shamrock(GB) Ltd? Did the Director General,on his trip to India, ask where all the monkeys had gone? I did (MHH). I was told that they had been sold to laboratories in the West. "ETHICAL" committees will not be much use to them.
FARMING OR KILLING FOR FOOD? FREEDOM FOOD?
"No one can claim to have a genuine interest in the welfare of animals if they continue to condone their unnecessary slaughter,not at any rate, without being accused of hypocrisy. To continue to eat the object of your concern is a stunning piece of self-deception,one of those very contradictions in human nature that makes campaigning so frustrating."
John Harris M.A. (1974 RSPCA Cambridge Symposium)
What contradictions led Council members to establishing Freedom Food? Could they not see that sticking an RSPCA logo on a piece of animal flesh was promoting the meat trade? Did Council members ever question the standards set for Freedom Food? Are these standards lower than the standards set by the Soil Association and in most cases no better than those of the intensive meat industry? Did Council members not know that beak trimming causes intense pain and trauma? Did they not foresee the ultimate cynicism of a Freedom Food award to a meat producer whose logo ridicules the pig"? The Rev Andrew Linzey has said: -
"Animals are sentient beings with their own dignity, intrinsic value and rights"
We believe that more could have been achieved for the welfare of farm animals if the £ millions spent on advertising meat and dairy products had been spent, on campaigning against factory farming. In this belief we are not alone.
We know that the RSPCA is not a vegetarian society with membership restricted to vegetarians. It is difficult for us to understand how a vegetarian could be a director of Freedom Food Ltd condoning the slaughter of animals for food and calling it animal welfare.
Postscript In 1981,whilst in India, I visited Dharamsala,the home in exile of the Dalai Lama. Over the entrance to the temple was a sign in English. It read:-
"REMEMBER ANIMALS ARE SENTIENT BEINGS".
twenty years on, I want to ask Council members how slaughter can be welfare
In 1990 a member wrote to Watchdog and said: -
"I attended the Westminster Abbey "celebration" service for 150 years "Royal" SPCA last Thursday 4/10/90. So first we had the "celebration" and blessing of the animals and then afterwards we ATE them at the Horticultural Hall reception."
Times do not change - do they.
In 1996 we quoted tbe words of Ray Goodfellow, RSPCA Solicitor. He said:-
"The AGM is the most important meeting in the Society"s calendar and RSPCA members should be given a proper opportunity to participate in the business of the meeting. The Animal Welfare Conference has no relevance to the Society"s constitutional functions".
So what did the Council do? They cut the AGM, or as modernisers say" dumbed it down" to 2 1/2 hours and members direct participation in presenting motions to less than an hour. A council that is as obsessed with secrecy as this one is, has no taste for communication with the members at an AGM.
There was a time when we had interesting speakers. Just imagine if the Reverend Professor Andrew Linzey had been invited to speak on hunting with hounds! Andrew Linzey used to be an RSPCA Council member and now holds the world"s first post in Christian Theology and Animal Welfare at Nansfield College,Oxford. But this is unlikely. It seems we must not upset the hunters. Like serfs and vassals, the once proud RSPCA now has to bow down to the Lords and Ladies of the Hunt.
There is no light on the horizon. The AGM 2000 will be held in Telford. Ever anxious to please, here is a helpful hint on how to get there if you live south of London. Get to Euston station and catch the 7.30am train and change at Wolverhampton. Then catch a train to Telford which arrives at 10.25 am. By the time you have found your way to the venue and registered, you will have missed part of the meeting. You could catch an earlier train but that leaves at 6.30am from Euston! Never mind, the all important RSPCA Council members will be tucked up in their hotel beds and will enjoy a leisurely breakfast all at RSPCA expense.
WHAT A FARCE!
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Quote of the Millenium
"For those concerned for animals within the Church, the Synod debate on hunting was a defining moment. We learned the hard way that the Church rhetoric about animals- the resolutions about welfare, and care and humanity- really cannot. be taken at their face value. When the chips are down and the Church feels itself threatened like any other secular commercial business, it behaves like any other secular commercial business. What was most touching in the debate was the sense of astonishment provided by the First Estates Commissioner that they should be accountable on an issue like this. An anti-hunting agreement would not, in any case be "enforceable", he declared. Most tragicaliy of all, we have in the interirn years an Archbishop of Canterbury unwillingly even to comment publicly on this issue, and that despite his post as Vice Patron of the RSPCA, which itself opposes sport hunting."
ANDREW LINZEY extract from his book "ANIMAL GOSPEL: Christian Faith As Though Animals Mattered", Hodder and Stoughton.
It is no secret to say that we are ashamed of the majority of Council members who behave so badly towards the minority. In July 1997, we published a letter from former Council member Joan Dell. We are publishing part of it again because things have not changed but seem to have got worse.
Extracts from Joan Dell"s letter 6 June 1997 (Council member 1990-1995)
"From the first day of my taking office I was astounded at the vitriolic attitude towards me and my colleagues who believed in the concept of the rights of animals. I would return home on the 17.35 Paddington/Bodmin train exhausted and emotionally spent; how could these people decide policy on animal welfare and protection when they refused to discuss animal based experiments saying "we are not an anti- vivisection Society"; another saying "they are quite happy as long as they have toys to play with". Then came the launch of Freedom Food. During council meetings I said I was happy to have a labelling system, but the standards were not high enough and the public would not believe that no suffering was involved. Members of staff admitted to me that of course debeaking, toothclipping, was painful; and of course farrowing crates are inhumane, but there was no alternative. The hypocrisy of it all made me sick.
When a video of a European slaughter house was shown during a lunch break showing animals being slaughtered with their screaming and ensuing blood and filth, there were murmurs of "how awful, how sickening, shameful" etc; they would then proceed to the foyer and eat their meat sandwiches and become completely switched off. It was after the paper was proposed Delegation of Powers, delegating many powers of council to officers and staff that I began to think that something was terribly wrong.I carried on for five years becoming bitter, frustrated, depressed and losing all confidence in the najority of my fellow council members, not knowing how to cope with their deviousness and indifference. I eventually resigned feeling that I could not fight a multi million pound top-heavy, empire building, self-perpetuating beaucracy that had very little to do with animals."
The Director general stated in the Trustees Report 1998 that cruelty to animals continues to rise - hardly a sign of a successful society. We believe that the Council should make a greater effort to stem the rising tide. We would like to see the following changes:-
UNWANTED CATS AND DOGS. Low cost spaying and neutering clinics set up in areas of greatest need as a matter of urgency.
ANIMAL EXPERIMENTATION. A non charitable campaigning group set up by appealing for funds to do so. The present department to identify those experiments on animals that are NOT beneficial to mankind.
FREEDOM FOOD. All RSPCA funding and staff removed. RSPCA funds used to campaign effectively against intensive farming methods.
THE COUNCIL. The greatest of all needs in the Society is to choose its next Chairperson wisely. The RSPCA should have a leader with a national standing as well as conspicuous ability. SOMEHOW SUCH LEADER MUST BE FOUND.
Since October 1987, we have supported over 40 members illtreated by the RSPCA- The late Anne Jenkins wrote to us in 1993 and said.: -
"My recent appeal to the DG was successful. I am glad that the Branch Committee no longer have the authority to make decisions without any accountability. I attribute this entirely to your persistent fight for justice on our behalf and want to thank you for your understanding and sympathy for the distress I suffered for 2 years until I heard of Watchdog. Until then I was very lonely and bewildered-"
Don"t be worried about the STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAl. stamp. We thought. why should HQ have all the fun stamping everything CONFIDENTIAL, so here is your own CONFIDENTIAL WATCHDOG! PLEASE help us to keep barking and demanding that ANIMALS ARE PUT FIRST!