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.

44 Kingsley Road, Horley, Surrey RH6 8HR

01293 786166
Watchdog Newsletter Number 79 February 2000  


At a time when many dinner plates will be filled with Freedom Food pigs, sheep, turkeys etc courtesy of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (sic) I suppose one should not have been surprised to find a picture of the owner of Hillgrove Farm (where cats were bred for profit to sell to vivisection laboratories) smiling out from the RSPCA magazine. Or indeed to find the veterinary surgeon of the RSPCA suggesting that the majority of Farmer Brown's ill-fated cats would be used to help other cats via cat vaccines as if this would make it acceptable, even if it were true - which it was not. It is difficult to understand if Farmer Brown was so caring of his cats as to why some of them were so nervous. I saw the look of fear in the eyes of these cats until their trust was won and remembered not for the first time that they, like others in the past were free now from their torturers due to the actions of individual animal protestors. It is an insult to all who care for the rights of animals that we should have Brown posing in an animal welfare magazine. Can one suppose that we will have little pictures of the fur farmers looking sad when the fur farms are abolished in this country?

So with what sort of Society are we in fact entering the millenium?

A Society which is part of the meat industry, a Society which has AGMs in the Shires (going to Shropshire in 2000) where the hunters in the Society outnumber the caring members at AGMs by three to one. A Society who unveils a plaque in London to celebrate its anniversary and invites along to carry out the ceremony someone who is not even anti-hunt. A Society, which brings on to one of its committees someone who wanted to overturn the anti-stag hunting report.

It is not surprising in the light of these extraordinary facts that the Society is yet again spending thousands of the money given for animals to set up a legal inquiry into leaks. I do not mean the rather tasteless vegetable kind but the kind that permits the membership of the Society to know what is happening within the Society (seems fair to me). In my experience the only people who worry about 'leaks' are those that are up to no good and engaging in practices that they know will be disapproved of by their paying members.

"The world is a dangerous place to live in; not because of those who do evil, but because of them that look on and let them do it."
Albert Einstein.

Why are the Council and its civil servants so afraid of the truth? If these leaks were untruthful then it would be only just that someone should get out of their pram as it would be unjust to be spreading lies, but this is not the situation. All the things that have been 'leaked' to Watchdog have been simply the truth. Perhaps if there were more open government in the RSPCA people would be less inclined to spill the beans. As it is we have investigations being carried out about the source of the leaky RSPCA all with money given for the animals to stop the cruelty inflicted on them. Yet thousands of this money will go into the hands of lawyers, not for the first time, to ensure that no council member commits the heinous crime of telling the membership what is going on. Of course some matters on Council have to be confidential, such as personnel matters, but should the matters relating to policies on animals be secret such as what is going on in Freedom Food? Money given to Freedom Food from the RSPCA coffers will have to come from members who are not even allowed to know the whereabouts of the farms, nor are their elected representatives on Council permitted to know in most cases. Many decisions are now made by Offcers of Council with no recourse to the trustees that you or I voted for. If the trustees and civil servants are so embarrassed about the truth perhaps they should look at exactly what they are doing that is embarrassing if the membership gets wind of it.

In my experience the only people worried about leaks are those that do not want the truth to come out - do not want the Society members to question motivations and actions.

Perhaps the New Year resolution of the Society hierarchy should be to run the Society in such a manner that they do not feel a need to put confidential on every sheet of paper they issue, both internally and externally. To take actions that they can be proud of and shout them from the roof tops rather than actions that have to be hidden under a shroud of confidentiality and then if leaked have time, money and effort spent on seeking out the 'criminal'.

Let us remind the Society hierarchy that we believe it is the Hillgrove owners of this world who are the real criminals, who make a living out of misery and torture.

Get your priorities right and be proud of your actions not skulking away under cover of private and confidentiality rubber stamps.

So that you do not start an expensive investigation into who wrote this you will find my name printed herewith.

"For secrets are edged tools and must be kept from children and fools."
John Dryden.





We are not at all happy with the present RSPCA Council. The problem is that there are too few ordinary members willing to stand for election so the choice of suitable candidates is very limited. New Council Members find the atmosphere at meetings very unfriendly - this probably accounts for the lack of volunteers at branch level as well as at Council level. Complaints are made to Watchdog not only about unfriendliness but about the rudeness of some Council Members. This unpleasant attitude is well illustrated in the letter we have published sent to Life Member Mrs Isobel Cowan by Council Member Mr Lewis Page.

Mrs Cowan could not understand how a vegetarian could be a Director of Freedom Food Ltd. (We share her perplexity). Knowing from his CV that Mr Page was a vegetarian, she wrote to him and sent his reply to Watchdog. We have published it here.

Vegetarians have a hatred of the slaughter of animals for food and speak out against the terror, pain and suffering this inflicts on sentient beings. Freedom Food CANNOT protect animals from the horrors of the slaughterhouse. The decoration of parts of the dead bodies of animals with RSPCA labels appears to promote the sale of meat. Similarly, RSPCA seals of approval on dairy products like cheese do not reveal the suffering of the calf taken from its mother or the anguish of the mother. We feel the following comments from Richard and Monica Harvey describe the situation more effectively.

"The Anglo-French beef war smoulders on, with livelihoods and reputations at risk, while scientists, vets and politicians examine entrails both physically and metaphorically. And all without a thought for the animals themselves.

They are sentient beings and have a range of feelings commensurate with our own, yet are treated in a manner reminiscent of the Holocaust. Calves of both sexes are taken away to become veal, leaving their grieving mothers to spend another year supplying a milk not intended by evolution for human consumption. Cow and calf, tagged and holding a computerised passport, eventually are driven to the slaughterhouse (euphemistically termed abattoir), in mortal terror to face mechanised butchery.

The end products, milk and meat, of the dairy trade, quite apart from not providing the healthy diet which the near infinite variety of vegetables (raw and cooked) can do, usurp for feedstuff crops around five times the area of land required for a meatless human diet. This at a time of growing world population and food shortages, compounds the repugnant obscenity of animal exploitation."

Non vegetarians, of course, do not share these views. In his letter Mr. Page unjustly accused Mrs Cowan of seeing no case for trying to raise animal welfare standards. In fact Mrs Cowan was the first person in Scotland to contact and meet Jean Pink and join Animal Aid and was one of the first names to join Compassion in World Farming. Mr Page should apologise. Effective campaigning for higher standards in farm animal welfare can be achieved WITHOUT association with the meat trade.


(Should you find this difficult to read the the compilers of the website have typed it here to make it easier to read.)

7 Barkers Close
MK45 2RX
01525 406447

Dear Mrs. Cowan,

Freedom Food deals with realities the first of which is that 90% of the public eat meat and will continue to do so. Consequently there are 800 million animals and birds in the UK of whom probably a majority receive poor welfare. The sole aim of Freedom Food is to improve their lot by raising welfare standards.

A second reality is that the RSPCA is prevented by charity law from campaigning to extend vegetarianism. Our only option is to try to raise welfare standards and that is what I (as a vegetarian) am trying to do. To me it is a pity that people such as yourself apparently see no case for raising farm animal welfare standards.

I personally find no contradiction. A third reality is that the Freedom Food standards have had a real impact (ask Elliot Morley!) throughout the meat industry where better welfare standards is now recognised as important to consumers. There are around 4000 members of Freedom Food (farmers, hauliers etc.) and inevitably some will get it wrong, but the system of random inspections does uncover breaches and these are dealt with, resulting in some expulsions. These are of course nothing to do with the "exposures" in VIVA and Channel 4 which have used material of dubious (and unverifiable) authenticity, simply to sensationalise and of course to provide a stick (any will do!) to beat the RSPCA. By contrast, when 800 cats suddenly need a home (794 happily rehomed, 6 euthanased on health grounds) the RSPCA gets the job, but not a word of acknowledgement from the so called animal welfare lobby.

Lastly you impugn my vegetarian credentials which is unworthy of you. My wife and I have been passionate vegetarians for more than 20 years. You can believe it or not as you like.

Yours sincerely

LRC Page (RSPCA Council Member)
(We think we have the initials correct.)


Mr. Page has made statements in his letter to Mrs Cowan which we query. He says

"The RSPCA is prevented by charity law from campaigning to extend vegetarianism."

If this is true, why is VIVA! (registered charity number 1037486) allowed to campaign to extend vegetarianism?

We know that the RSPCA is not a vegetarian Society.

We know that the decision to become a vegetarian is a personal matter and the decision can be made for various reasons.

We have been told that 'Charity must serve the overriding object of the public benefit to be measured in terms of the benefit to mankind.'

What we question is whether the charitable object of farm animal welfare should be pursued in conjunction with meat marketing and whether the eating of fish and meat is of benefit to mankind. For example

FISH VIVA! has stated that the British Dietetic Association has reported on high levels of poisonous chemicals in oily fish. Dioxin and PCBs have been detected in all fish but are particularly high in mackerel, herring and other species where oil is distributed throughout the animals flesh. They can cause cancer.

BEEF the findings of the National Academy of Sciences published on December 21st and referring to people who ate BSE infected beef state

"A large section of the United Kingdom population may be at considerable risk." (from new variant CJD)

The EUs Scientific and Veterinary Committee state that there are dangerous levels of dioxin in meat from all the industrialised countries.

CHICKEN See the report here.

From cattle, poultry, sheep and pigs humans can catch salmonella, listeria, campylobacter, toxoplasmosis, chlamydiosis, parasitic worms and new variant CJD. Is this of benefit to mankind?

Mr Page has also stated that

"Freedom Food standards have had a real impact throughout the meat industry where better welfare standards is now recognised as important to consumers."

This statement confirms our belief that Freedom Food is a Marketing Exercise where secrecy is vital and Government Ministers support efforts to prop up the meat trade.

What possible reason has Mr Page for stating that VIVA! and Channel 4 have used material of dubious and unverifiable authenticity? Are experts wrong when they say that baby chickens who have the end of their beaks cut off with a red hot blade suffer discomfort and pain throughout their lives? Are animals in the slaughterhouse free from fear and distress?

Why does the RSPCA Council support meat marketing?


Mr Patrick Moore has criticised the RSPCA Vice Patron for not speaking out against hunting with hounds. The Archbishop's response below.

"Pressure groups, particularly those concerned with animal welfare, often seek to recruit the Archbishop to their particular cause. Sometimes, groups on both sides of the argument compete for his support. The Archbishop has made it clear, however, that he is unwilling to be used as cannon fodder in other people’s battles – no matter how just or right their cause. For this reason he makes it a general rule not to speak about matters where he finds himself under pressure from other people to join one side or another in any particular debate. Which is not to say, of course, that he will not and does not speak about the subjects at a time of his choosing. The Archbishop has spoken in the past about animal welfare and made his views quite clear. He is grateful when people take the time to let him know tbeir views, but it is for him, rather than them, to choose the time and place most appropriate to continue his comments. Sadly, by seeking to bring pressure to bear on the Archbishop, those most passionately concerned with these issues themselves restrict his freedom to act.|"

Mr Andrew Nunn
Lay Assistant to
The Archbishop of, Canterbury



Health risk from fowl farms
the Guardian 30/12/1999 by James Meikle

      Factory farming methods for chicken are putting human health at risk, damaging the environment and proving cruel for birds, a report says today.
      Standards in the industry have shown little improvement over the past decade, despite attempts to cut the risk of food poisoning and the use of growth antibiotics, according to Fowl Deeds, published by Sustain, the umbrella campaign group for better food and farming.
      It says two in five poultry slaughterhouses are failing to comply fully with hygiene requirements, and 40% of chickens still contain either the salmonella or campylobacter food poisoning bugs.
     The report is published just days before the first birds to be labelled "antibiotic free" go on widespread sale, in the face of mounting evidence that the routine overuse of the low dose drugs may pose a threat to human health by helping to create superbugs resistant to medicines.
      From Monday, Marks and Spencer will be the first retailer to stop selling any fresh chicken reared in such a way. The country’s largest chicken supplier, the Grampian Country Food Group, which supplies 200m broilers a year, has already stopped using such growth promoters.
      Sustain, whose members include the National Farmers’ Union and council trading standards officers, alleges that birds are suffering in over- crowded sheds during their six-week lifespan and some are not being properly stunned by electricity before their necks are cut.
      It says farmers providing 700m birds a year for the mar-ket only stand to make a profit of 20p a bird, and the small margin is encouraging intensification of broiler production. All but 2% of broiler production in the UK is by intensive methods.
      The report suggests that the welfare of "free range" reared chicken is not always better. Free range chickens tend to be more independent and this can cause greater stress for them when they are caught and slaughtered.
      The report also says poor standards have been uncovered among countries which export substantial amounts to Britain, including France, Brazil and Thailand.
      Alexis Vaughan, author of the Sustain report, said yesterday: "There has been little improvement in the past 10 years in the UK in chicken welfare or in reducing the health risk to consumers. The UK is now importing a huge quantity of chicken meat from abroad, which does not even meet minimum European standards."
 Fowl Deeds, available from Sustain, 94 White Lion Street, London NI; £5


Italy has some of the most animal friendly legislation in the world. Venice was the first city to pass an animal rights in 1987, which guaranteed stray cats an area to roam in freedom. A national act was passed in 1991, which has benefited Rome’s numerous cat colonies, and several cities provide money for pet food.







"What price the suffering and terror of the animals and birds? A friend’s dog needing to be given a strong tranquiliser (which in itself is frightening to an animal when it finds itself staggering and traumatised) other animals bolting and lost. A friend who works in a sanctuary informing me that most of the wild animals were totally bewildered and panic stricken, birds equally alarmed had flown into wire fencing and thus badly injuring themselves. What an indictment of so called "modern day man"!
Mary Ashton


A Few Facts about Watchdog.

Watchdog DID NOT authorise putting newsletter 76 on the Internet. Watchdog is TOTALLY opposed to hunting with hounds. Watchdog DOES NOT have a subscription charge but we do welcome donations towards the cost of postage.


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