44 Kingsley Road, Horley, Surrey RH6 8HR 01293 786166
Watchdog Newsletter Number 82 September 2000
SECRECY ENSURES INCOMPETENCE
More open management by the Council will NOT be detrimental to the interests of the Society. It will help to achieve a more efficient future. Educated members detest the absurd and unnecessary cult of secrecy that dominates every aspect of this Council's work.
Why is this secrecy considered to be necessary? Do Council members lack confidence in their own abilities so seek refuge in making every decision confidential?
Why have the Council members decided to downgrade the Annual Report, the Annual General Meeting and Animal Life? Have they contempt for the membership?
A New Council needs a New Approach as well as New Officers. So why not start a new regime with these two changes?
- PUBLISH all submitted AGM motions and give proper acceptable reasons for rejecting motions.
- Having had proof that moving the AGM away from London does NOT motivate members to attend the meeting, MOVE the AGM back to London in 2001. Under 800 voting members went to Leicester in 1999 (520 plus of those were hunting supporters) and according to the voting figures a little over 600 went to Telford this year.
RSPCA ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING JUNE 24 2000
According to reports from members, the meeting was held in a grotty tin hall that looked like a bus garage - concrete floor, tyre and paint marks and all. The food was poor and not worth the £5.00 and the seats were very uncomfortable.
Is this the sort of image a Royal Society should project?
The dreaded hunters did not turn up in large numbers. The meeting was uninspiring apart from the news that the 3 candidates promoted by Watchdog came top of the 5 elected. CONGRATULATIONS Chris Flood, Angela Walder and Celia HammondÖ (Mrs. Burton was NOT elected).
I was very disappointed at the turnout of RSPCA members who are opposed to hunting with dogs at last year's Annual General Meeting. Those of us who are in favour of a ban were outnumbered by defenders of hunting from the Countryside Alliance.
This Year's AGM will be held in Telford and there will certainly be another orchestrated attack on our anti-hunt stance. It is quite possible that they will be victorious if our anti-hunt members fail to attend and vote.
Membership of the RSPCA sometimes requires more than paying your subscription. If you don't turn out then the RSPCA policy against hunting with dogs may be overturned. Do you really want that?
Ken Schofield, Leicester
So many members had left the meeting that only a few remained for the Animal Welfare Conference which had to close early. What a mess! What a shambles!
We cannot leave the subject of the AGM without reference to a letter in Animal Life (left) from K Schofield secretary of the Leicester branch.
Mr. Schofield has confessed to being one of the prime movers in trying to get the AGM out into the provinces. Having failed to attract members in large numbers to Leicester (except hunt supporters of course!) he now knows that members were not attracted to Telford.
In his diatribe at the 1999 AGM attacking Mr. Mawson's motion, he paid no attention to the need NOT to encourage members to travel by car to the meeting. This planet is in serious danger because of the climate change due to global warming. Every effort should be made to get members to use public transport. By far the most suitable place to hold the AGM is London which has a fast, direct train service from all parts of the country.
On the hunting issue, would it not be more constructive for Mr. Schofield to look at the membership of his Leicester branch and the fervent support for hunting with hounds and hare coursing, from one of the branch's members Roger Helmer MEP?
"Life is as dear to a mute creature as it is to a man. Just as one wants happiness and fears pain, just as one wants to live and not to die, so do other creatures." Ö.His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama of Tibet.
ATTITUDES TO ANIMALS
In RESURGENCE No. 20 July/August 2000, Mr. Peter Davies, RSPCA Director General said animals should be
"Universally recognised as sentient beings"
(Note The Shorter Oxford Dictionary - Sentient - A adj. L "that feels or is capable of feeling")
In the last edition of Focus, we ran a caption competition and we are proud to announce that the five winners are:
"Come on in, there is plenty of room at the tap end".
Andrew & Victoria Daniels of Norfolk
"I'm not getting out 'til you pass me a towel".
D Duckworth of Devon
"No, you're not getting to see my legs".
William Robb of Aberdeenshire
"Just add 1Kg of salt for that perfect crackling".
R D Rogers of Worcester
A Pork and Stilton pack is on its way to them kindly donated by Long Clawson Dairies of Melton Mowbray.
We would like to thank everyone who took the time to enter the competition.
It would be interesting to know if Mr. Davies, when he is eating meat, ever gives a thought to the 'feelings' of food animals as they are forced into the slaughterhouse to face a cruel death. If he has given up eating animals we apologise.
We are not asking that the RSPCA becomes a vegetarian/vegan Society only that the leadership of the RSPCA, namely the Chairperson and Director General show some inkling of the logical conclusion of declaring animals to be sentient being
We can find no better illustration of the sheer insensitivity of the RSPCA 'leaders' than the caption competition run by FOCUS - Freedom Food News Spring 2000. Beside a photo of a pig in a tub of water was one of the winning captions -
"Just add 1 Kg of salt for that perfect crackling."
The RSPCA's Freedom Food directors could only see a pig as meat with crackling! The actor James Cromwell who played Farmer Hoggett in the film 'BABE' said -"I was so moved by the intelligence, sense of fun and personalities of the animals I worked with on BABE that by the end of the film I was vegetarian"
(quoted in a VIVA! Leaflet)
For Goodness Sake let us have proper leadership for the RSPCA - a Chairperson who can inspire the members and see the way forward for ALL animals. RICHARD RYDER had those qualities twenty years ago when he was Chairperson of Council. We are still waiting for a leader to come anywhere near his achievements. We are delighted that he is now an officer - Deputy Treasurer. We want him as Chairman.
ANIMALS WELFARE? ANIMAL RIGHTS?
We are told repeatedly that the RSPCA is an Animal Welfare Society. There is no mention of this term in the 1932 Act of Parliament or in the Society's Rules. Many years ago when there was a forward looking Education Department, an Education Officer produced a guide to the Different Approaches to Animals. It is useful to look at this guide now to assess what has happened over the years to the present day.
Summary of attitudes
'Animals are here for use or abuse. They are our absolute property. They probably donít perceive pain as we do. Even if they did it doesnít matter.'
'Animals are here for our use but we must be responsible about them at least until our needs conflict. We should attempt to spare them pain and suffering if possible.'
'We are here to enforce the law makers no more no less. It is not our fault people are irresponsible.'
'People should treat each animal as kindly as possible. They should be required to do so. If they canít or wonít we have a duty to help out.'
'Animals have intrinsic rights. These should be guaranteed., These rights include not being killed for sport, food, research or abused in any way.'
'Animals should not be forced to work or produce for our benefit in any way. We should try to eliminate animal use as well as abuse.
Give support to:
Independent Welfare agencies, clinics and animal shelters
Anti-vivisection non-euthanasia groups
Clandestine groups use illegal and sometimes violent methods
Indifferent to animal suffering
Advocate killing for food or other purposes
Required to kill prefer to neuter
Prefer not to but willing to euthanase
Unwilling to sanction
any taking of life.
Fight increases in regulations
Work within existing laws
Raise public consciousness for legal change
Sanction civil disobedience
Willing to break the law
THE SOCIETY AND THE BADGER CULL
In the summer of '98 the government announced that it was about to adopt the recommendations of the Krebs report on Bovine Tuberculosis in Cattle and Badgers published in Dec. '97. This report was the result of an inquiry set up by the previous government. Over the next five years (at the end of which it would be proven beyond any doubt whether or not badgers were at the root of Bovine TB) this would involve the killing under MAZFF licence of approximately 12,500 badgers starting in the West Country and on the Welsh border. The regions affected were to be arranged in "triplets" or triangles, the three points of these named proactive, reactive and control areas: at the first point every badger was to be killed, at the second killing would take place only if badgers had access to farms where TB outbreaks occurred, and at the third there would be no killing. The total area involved over the five years would be 2000 square kilometres. Badgers were to be trapped in cages and shot. Experiments were also to be carried out with padded leg-cuffs, a "humane" version of the leg-hold trap, to catch the trap-shy.
As a member of a badger group and Campaign Co-ordinator of an RSPCA branch I was horrified. How would it be possible to kill badgers in such numbers without cruelty not to mention the appalling waste of wildlife? About 80% of these badgers would be healthy. It was probable too that the numbers of badgers killed would be higher than predicted by MAFF: The National Federation of Badger groups said 20,000 - and Care for the Wild 225 - 30,000. It depended on badger population densities. There was to be a closed period from 1 Feb. to 30 April for cub-rearing, but NFBG insisted that this would be too short and that many cubs would die of starvation underground. Both NFBC and CFTW pointed out that many other possible causes of Bovine TB should be investigated before resorting to slaughter and the League Against Cruel Sports said that they could not approve the culling of animals to prove a hypothesis. PAL (the political wing of IFAW) also opposed the cull. Other avenues of investigation suggested by NFBG were high stocking densities of cattle, poor quality grazing and a lack of trace elements in the bovine diet. They also recommended routing testing to prevent cattle spreading TB from one herd to another on sale and better animals husbandry, particularly a reduction in stress, a notable cause of susceptibility to the disease. They pressed for research into a vaccine. CFIW also emphasised the need for more frequent testing (once a year instead of once in 3 years) and pointed out that the test was only 75% effective, so some infected animals slipped through the net. They drew attention to research in Ulster, which had shown that up to 70% of infected herds became infected from other cattle. Why, they asked, was TB decreasing prior to 1970, when no badgers were being killed? And why had so much slaughter in the past 25 years not brought about a reduction in TB? MAFF's own study at Woodchester Park had show the spread of TB in badgers to be minimal and pointed to a good immune system. CFIW also remarked on lack of trace elements and are running a trial on a farm involving the addition of selenium to the bovine diet. Both organisations recommended research into other wildlife as well. In Nov. '98 NFBG took MAFF before the standing committee of the Bern Convention, a wildlife treaty drawn up in 1979 to which Britain was a signatory, and they were found in breach of the treaty; though a year later, after constant pressure and by suing questionable methods, they succeeded in reversing this decision.
WHAT WAS THE RSPCA DOING DURING ALL THIS? As Campaign Co-ordinator I was in the habit of checking through the Action Line columns in Animal Life to discover the issues on which the branch should campaign. We wrote letters, as directed, to government ministers, to Brussels, to ambassadors, but where was any request that we should campaign against the badger cull? I combed through the Autumn '98 number, followed by those of winter and spring '99, but found not a word to suggest action on this matter. I became increasingly perplexed, so, in May '99, having received the election addresses for the Council election in June, I wrote to all six candidates to ask if they would oppose the cull. They all replied, but not all were in the know. Enough were: it transpired to my shock, horror and amazement that the Society was GOING ALONG with the cull!! The line taken was that RSPCA cared a bout all animals, i.e. cattle as well as badgers. They would try to make sure that the method of killing was humane and were opposed to the use of leg-cuffs. One of the candidates sent me a news-sheet issued on 27 April '99. It began "The RSPCA is urging the government to adopt recommendations published today by the Agriculture Select Committee to make the UK badger culling trial more humane and effective." He also sent Wildlife Snippets for May '99 which reported "In a separate development MAFF have announced that they are taking action to appoint an independent auditor to assess the humaneness of the method of killing badgers used by the ministry's staff and the proper application of the procedures." This was due to RSPCA pressure, he said. THREE CHEERS! Congratulations and jubilations! I SIMPLY COULD NOT BELIEVE IT and, still stunned in mid-June I composed a letter of resignation and sent it to Horsham.
Another hope expressed in the news-sheet of April 27 was that the "culling trial" would "be completed humanely, within a reasonable timescale and that the results would be statistically valid." Are these goals likely to be achieved? MAFF now expects the trial to run for seven years, not five. From the start NFBG and others warned that the experiment would not work out on the ground, and it has run into innumerable problems: farmers killing badgers illegally in the (no-killing) control areas, interference with traps, non-compliance with the cull on the part of landowners including the RSPC, the Woodland Trust and the Wildlife Trusts. At an early stage the Health and Safety Executive banned post mortem examinations of badgers until facilities were improved, fearing operatives might become infected, so numerous badger corpses are in cold storage - most of them healthy, of course. MAFF has also had difficulty in recruiting staff and MAFF has found the landscape difficult! Even English Nature and the Countryside Council for Wales (government bodies) expressed doubt about MAFF's ability to carry out the fieldwork to a tight schedule. All these problems and more were listed in a report published in February of this year by the Independent Scientific Group on Cattle TB.
It looks unlikely that the results will be worth anything if and when they are finally produced, but the killing continues. In May cubs were starving to death again except for one found wandering almost dead, near Devizes, which has been nursed back to health by Pauling Kidner of Secret World. This cruelty goes on with the approval of the RSPCA. WHAT ARE THE VIEWS OF THE MEMBERSHIP? Many are in blissful ignorance: specially looking I have come across five active members who knew nothing about this policy. "They're not supporting that!!" one of them said incredulously.
The two documents mentioned may have been tabled by branch Secretaries at committee meetings, but absolutely nothing has appeared in Animal Life. THE MEMBERSHIP IS IN THE DARK.
Scapegoating the badger
Here in West Cornwall, the Ministry of Agriculture (MAFF) is preparing for the experimental badger cull (The culling fields, July 5), hiding traps in the hedgerows with a view to starting shooting - at close range through the bars of t he trap - in the very near future.
We are all playing our part in the fight to save the badgers, from carrying banners in the streets of St. Just, through hasty telephone calls when Maff Land-Rovers have been spotted driving around the fields, to direct action to disable badger traps.
Your article states that the National Farmers' Union intends to run a campaign in the autumn to persuade people that they can catch TB directly from badgers, although there is as yet still no proof that badgers even transmit it to cattle. This seems not so much spin as a blatant untruth and could backfire in that the pro-badger lobby will undoubtedly promote fresh publicity about the connection between cattle and human disease, from dairy allergies to CJD.
Jane Rosendale, St Buryan
Two items that might interest you. After reading the article below, you might like to write to the RSPCA Director of Science at Horsham and ask him what are ethically acceptable experiments on animals.
Knowing how much the Director General despises "little old ladies with a box of lever arch files and nothing better to do" and claiming that they are "voices from the past", we thought that he might like to read a letter from 70 YEARS AGO and then read the front page of Watchdog 81. Things have not improved much - have they?
CRUELTY JUSTIFIED IN THE NAME OF SCIENCE
Tearing off the blinkers is tremendously painful.. They grow into your mind with multiple attachments deep into the psyche. They grow to protect you from emotional pain; tear them off and you experience all that pain and more: because you then have to face tremendous burden of guilt. For me, it caused physical as well as mental pain as my health broke down.
I was faced with a dilemma. If this sort of research was ethically unacceptable, what would be acceptable? Where could I draw the line? What moral criteria could I use to answer such questions?
There is no morally defensible line to be drawn. All criteria are arbitrary. I realised that it was not OK to keep animals in laboratory cages, even if they were well-fed, well-watered, and free from surgical or pharmaco-logical mutilation. It was not OK to use animals as "preparations", allowing them none of the rights or feelings that we enjoy. Not when the very core of my scientific training had taught me that these animals are my furry brothers and sisters, so similar are they to me. And it was not OK to study and teach a psychology founded on cruel and artificial laboratory experiment.
I paid a high price for tearing off the blinkers - a price too high for most scientists to contemplate. I had to reject the values on which I had built my life and find a completely new direction. I had been working for a decade. But I have never regretted my decision. The sacrifice demanded of the animals is so much greater than any that I made.
BY ARABELLA MELVILLE, B.SC., PH.D.
OUTRAGE APR/MAY 1989
HORSE RACING DEATHS
PROTEST AT RACEHORSES' DEATH
51 years ago from the Daily Telegraph, 9 march 1939
The Rev. F. C. Baker, vicar of St. Stephen's, Coleman St. One of Wren's old City of London churches, protested at his weekly midday service yesterday against the deaths of 4 horses at Cheltenham races on Tuesday.
He said that he was full of righteous indignation and sick at heart to think that 4 beautiful horses should be destroyed.
"And for what?" he asked. "For the amusement of people who, to my mind ought to have something better to do."
3 of the horses, he said, had to be destroyed because they were so badly injured and one died of exhaustion.
"In my opinion it is a disgraceful affair in an enlightened country. We are going back to barbarism and I am wondering if we are civilised., We have laws for the prevention of cruelty to animals. If this is not cruelty, I want to know what cruelty is."
In his sermon on "Thy Kingdom Come" Mr. Baker said: "This Kingdome cannot come as long as things of cruelty, injustice and selfishness are going on."
What happens when members complain to HQ? Are these complaints noted and reported to the Council in a separate item on the AGENDA?
OR ARE THE COMPLAINTS BINNED?
A member commented to Watchdog that "I read with amazement the motion submitted by Richard Ryder and Eilieen Chamberlain. They are not living in the real world. I think they should spend a few days at cattle markets, meet the farmers and listen to their complaints about standards of welfare to which they are expected to adhere. Pig farmers are the most vocal - the majority of farmers only care about the price per kilo they will receive for them. The idea that animals are sentient beings is scornfully dismissed."
A CLIMATE OF FEAR
Until Council members realise the fact that too many members are frightened of victimisation to express their views, Watchdog will have to provide a newsletter for their views to be expressed anonymously. It is called FREEDOM OF SPEECH. It is shocking that we have to comment on this. In 1988 the Watchdogs were expelled from the Society for producing Watchdog and then reinstated after legal action. The then Chairman of Council spent £4000 of charity funds writing to every member to urge them not to read our newsletter. What are they frightened of? Thanks for all your letters. Please help with postage for the newsletter.
PRINTED BY JOE HARRIS, SWANSEA BRANCH
|Back to Archive Index