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.
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Newsletter Number 90 February 2002
2002 TIME FOR CHANGE
At the time of writing this newsletter, no apology has been received fran Mrs. Owen of the Doncaster and Rotherham Branch and no explanation has been received from Council member Mrs. Eileen Chamberlain concerning her allegations against Mrs. Dorothy Adams and Mrs. Margaret House which she wanted recorded in the Region 8 minutes of the 2 July 2001. (see Watchdog 89) We can only conclude that both Mrs. Owen and Mrs. Chamberlain have realised that there is no substance to their allegations. It is unfortunate that both Mr. Spencer (Region 8 Representative on the Council) and the Regional Manager have allowed unsubstantiated allegations against named persons to be recorded in the minutes. This is bad practice and contrary to the rule of natural justice.
ELECTIONS TO THE RSPCA COUNCIL
The single nest important action that members can take to benefit animals is to elect suitable members to the Council. It is regrettable that in 2002 , the election of Regional Representatives will continue to be undemocratic. They are elected on a minority vote of branch committee members only. It is therefore very important in choosing which person to vote for that you ask candidates what part they: played in several questionable decisions - these are
- The decision made in 2001 to spend £80,000 on a witch hunt against David Mawson and a further large sum to be spent trying to find out which Council member was quoted on the BBC Watchdog programme.
- The decision to spend £80,000 on a war memorial for animals. Add this sum to the sums mentioned above - £160,000 plus WOULD HELP AN AWFUL LOT OF ANIMALS.
- The decision to downgrade the role of Vice Presidents, particularly Vice President Bill 3ordan who has given and is still giving invaluable service in the cause of animal welfare.
- The decision to go into partnership with McDonalds in view of the verdict by Judge Bell on 19/6/97 in the McLibel trial. He said "McDonalds Corporation and McDonalds Restuarants Ltd. Are culpably responsible for cruel practices in the rearing and slaughter of some of the animals which are used to produce their food."
There are many other reasons to question the actions of the present Council members including the millions spent on Freedom Food and the Southwater Palace, the absurd secrecy surrounding all their meetings and actions, the stifling of freedom of speech and information- and the unjust treatment of voluntary workers.
It is worth noting that in 1996, the Chief Charity Commissioner wrote to the Director General and said
"Obviously, though, the terms of any power of exclusion must be consistent with the requirements of natural justice."
HOW MANY MEMBERS have been excluded from branch membership without being given a reason or allowed to reply to allegations?
In 2002 spend the money given for animals on animals.
In 1991,the World Health Organisation in Geneva produced a document on Diet, Nutrition and the Prevention of Chronic Diseases (WHO/CPL/CVD/NUT/91. 1) Eminent specialists from Canada ,China, Italy, Egypt, Scotland, India ,Australia, Nigeria, USA, USSR and Japan were members of the study group. A check list for government action was produced including two important statements.
Governments in all countries are advised to consider their investment and subsidy policies in both agriculture arid the food industry to ensure that these are consistent with the nutritional concepts contained in this report. Policies should be geared to promoting the growing of plant foods, including vegetables and fruits, and to limiting the promotion of fat containing products. Each government should examine its animal production policies and Incentives to ensure that they do not promote the production of excessive quantities of saturated fat. Authorities also need to consider trading practices that might lead to adverse effects on health. The export of subsidized saturated fat, unwanted by health conscious domestic consumers, is one clear example.
It would seem that the promotion of Freedom Food products is contrary to the advice of the World Health Organisation. In the Winter 2001 Animal Life page 10 is the following
"This Christmas, the RSPCA is urging consumers to think about animal welfare and buy Freedom Food. There are ... festive foods to consider such as Stilton cheese, brandy butter, ice cream, bacon, chickens, ham, lamb and beef."
Of course whether to eat red meat and dairy products is a personal choice. BUT if the RSPCA is to promote the eating of these products, then the Society has a duty to give full information to the public of the health risk involved. It is a valid criticism of RSPCA staff that the Council was not informed about the WHO report and the Director General knew nothing about it until he was sent a copy by Mrs House.
Surely, if the aims of the Five Freedoms were ever achieved it would mean that animals were no longer used for food.
Somewhere along the line Freedom Food took the wrong turning. To add to the confusion, the Director General and his Director of Operations are issuing conflicting statements. In a letter dated 26/11l/01, the Director General wrote:
"The RSPCA does not promote the sale of red meat and dairy produce"
Whilst John Rolls in a letter explains that the way of pursuing the aim of Freedom Food is by:
"encouraging the consumer, the retailer and the producer to favour hiqher welfare products."
The statements in 'Nutrition in a Nutshell' (VIVA! Guide 1) by a newly appointed RSPCA Vice President Audrey Eyton add a VERY interesting comment. She says:
"It is no secret that food is a very political issue. Big companies make huge amounts of money from animal products and wield enormous power - so governments are not very willing to challenge them. There hasn't been the political will to change the national diet, even though the WHO says thats what urgently needs to happen."
She also states that a recent study published in the British Medical Journal in December 1998 confirmed yet again that vegetarians have a sharply reduced risk of developing cancer and coronary heart disease.
No wonder the Council sought to silence Vice Presidents !
But what about Charity law that puts benefit to humans before animal welfare?
The whole course of Freedom Food needs changing and if the present Council members have not got the guts or the intelligence to do it, they should resign.
VIVA ! Guide 1
But, some people say we're meant to eat a diet based around meat. No we're not over millions of years, human beings have evolved to eat a diet based upon plant foods. From the very earliest times right up to the middle of this century, the vast majority of people obtained most of their nutrition from vegetables, fruits, whole grains, roots, seeds, nuts and other plant-derived foods. According to William C. Roberts, M.D. the distinguished editor in chief of the prestigious medical publication, the American Journal of Cardiology.
"Although human beings eat meat, we are not natural carnivores. No matter how much fat carnivores eat, they do not develop atheroscieross (clogged arteries). When we kill animals to eat them, they end up killing us because their flesh, which contains cholesterol and saturated fat, was never intended for human beings, who are natural herbivores."
Lamb a festive food, Mr. Sharpe?
It was CIWF who got animals declared sentient beings, on the following page is a moving description of sheep and the distress caused when lambs are removed from ewes. ENJOY your lamb, Mr. Sharpe.
From....Unto us a lamb is given by Horatio Clare
15th December 2001,
When you wean lambs from ewes, both mothers and children cry for days.
……………. Every sheep has a distinct character. For each fearful and stupid animal, there is a curious and affectionate one. Every flock has its leaders: while the rest panic at the appearance of humans and dogs, the leaders work out what you want them to do, and, if it seems safe, they do it. Their confidence inspires the rest.
Although no one has ever claimed that sheep are intelligent animals, neither are they fools. Some seem predisposed to stray. Once they learn that fences can be surmounted by jumping or crawling, they are unstoppable. Strays lead independent lives, rearing their lambs on the run. Incidents of sheep learning to roll across cattle-grids are famously well documented.
They can be very playful. Lambs run races along the edges of fields. They love to compete for King of the Castle: any ant-heap will do. My mother had a yearling (a one-year-old) which had the habit of climbing on to the daily hay bale, apparently for the hell of it. She was evidently a joker, as most lambs pass through the playful phase and enter a rather solemn period, when they eschew games.
When newly shorn or dashing through a gate into fresh pasture, young sheep literally jump for joy, springing into the air like pot-bellied antelopes. They form strong attachments: best friends will stick together and remember each other, seeking each other out after periods of separation.
Scientists have recently 'revealed' that sheep can remember the faces of up to 50 other sheep, as well as their shepherd's mug. This will not come as much of a surprise to sheep or shepherds, who have known it for centuries. 'Sheep must potentially be able to think about individuals that are absent from their environment,' says Dr Keith Kendrick of the Babraham Institute, Cambridge. It's a fact, Dr Keith. When you wean lambs from ewes, both mothers and children cry for days. Their memories last for at least two years, according to the scientists; rather longer than some humans.
The telling phrase in the Babraham report, published in Nature, is that the test-sheep were trained to recognise pairs of faces 'using a food reward'. Sheep, as the researchers have discovered, will do absolutely anything for food.
Their emotional sympathy is extraordinary. Sheep sense human anger or frustration and try to flee. Good shepherds move calmly and slowly among their flocks, and talk to them. Sheep will answer. The ubiquitous bleat of the hungry sheep is only one of many communications. There are cries of distress, which any shepherd will recognise; whickering, affectionate noises to reassure lambs. There are curious, interrogative grunts; whistles of alarm or hostility, and groans of pain when giving birth.
Anyone who thinks that sheep are cowards has never tried to capture a full-grown ram for a spot of horn-shortening. A ewe will face down dogs or foxes when defending a lamb, which is astonishingly courageous, considering her complete lack of weaponry. And there is absolutely no doubt that they know when death is upon them. When they believe all is lost, lambs go completely limp in the hand.
Urban Foxhunters...night culling with silenced rifles
FOXHUNTING, once the preserve of rural communities, has arrived in the town. But the new urban hunters do not wear pink and ride to hounds. Instead they dress in combat gear and use high-velocity rifles.
In towns and cities where fox populations have risen to record levels, licensed marksmen are being quietly hired by householders, schools and old people's homes to dispose of the animals. In some suburban areas, they are so numerous that as many as 30 have been killed on a single outing.
"There is more demand than ever from people in towns," said Tony Harman, a licensed expert in fox control from Horley, Surrey, who operates in the evenings killing urban foxes with a high-velocity rifle equipped with a silencer. "In the past few weeks alone, I have trained 30 pest controllers in fox-culling methods."
New research suggests there are 50,000 foxes living in British towns and cities - about a fifth of Britain's total. Numbers are estimated to be growing by about 20% per year.
They thrive on household waste and are blamed for undermining buildings when digging their earths, attacking and killing pets, wrecking gardens and strewing rubbish along streets.
Harman's marksmen lure their prey by imitating the sound of rabbits to attract the fox's attention. They then shine a light and shoot between the reflections of the animal's eyes. "We have to do it secretly, only telling the client and the police, because otherwise we would have demonstrations by animal rights people," said Harman, 63. "The people who call us in are at their wits' end. Many say they always opposed fox culls but now understand why it has to be done."
Bruce Lindsay-Smith,of London and Southern Counties Pest Control Service, is often employed by householders in central London, and claims to have killed foxes in several private gardens in Westminster.
Nigel Firth, of Balcombe Pest Control, based in West Sussex, said many of his customers were schools concerned at the damage caused by foxes burrowing under temporary classrooms and the risk of pupils catching diseases.
"Culling is an emotive subject and the schools are very frightened of the accusations against them if it becomes public," he said. "They don't want the children and parents to know."
The RSPCA and the Mammal Society said foxes were being unfairly blamed for problems that were often caused by squirrels, cats or dogs. "A lot of people misunderstand foxes and there are far more humane methods of controlling their activities than killing them," said a spokeswoman.
Surely SOMETHING can be done by the Region 2 Office
Council member Mrs. Unmack to protest at this inhumane practice?
Another Wild Goose Chase
There is an investigation into which Council member spoke through an actor on the BBC 1 programme on 2/1/02.
The Council member said
"How can you say an animal is free from pain when you accept beak clipping - the same with tail docking? We've got a thing called Freedom Food ducks which can be kept in concrete barns which again is anathema. A duck is a water fowl - but the closest you get to water in these barns is a bucket it can put its head in."
In the same programme the RSPCA Director General said
"We have to have intensive farming in this country because of the demand for protein, meat products and dairy products."
WHO IS CLOSER to supporting the objects of the RSPCA by these statements - the Director General who appears to condone intensive farming methods or the unknown Council member who had the courage to speak out against certain aspects of Freedom Food?
BITS AND BOBS
As we said in a previous newsletter, the membership of the RSPCA is falling.
47646 currently (10/12/01)
51573 in January 2001
Net membership figure is currently declining at around 150 per month (3000 per year)
We have been told that. Peter Davies in his position as Director General of the RSPCA in an interview on Radio 5 stated that all vegetarians and vegans are militants.
The Oxford Dictionary definition of a militant is "engaged in warfare, warring."
Surely, as a Major General in the armed services the Director General was a militant? Does his attack on innocent vegetarians and vegans mean that he is now a pacifist? Or was he misquoted? We should be told.
Some of the present Council members seem to be obsessed with 'leaks.' They also have a culture of secrecy and fail to appreciate that wherever there is secrecy there will be leaks. Some secrecy is necessary. PLEASE let us have a more open Society and more opportunity at the AGM to LET OFF STEAM.
MAIL ON SUNDAY
November 25, 2001
THE RSPCA is allowing fast-food chain McDonald's to stamp takeaway cartons with its Freedom Food logo which promises high standards of animal welfare.
But the seal of approval the first for a fast-food outlet has been condemned by critics who say the burger giant is likely to win praise from customers for food which has not necessarily been produced in humane conditions.
John Robbins, campaigns consultant for Animal Concern, said: 'Research has shown that some Freedom Food farms leave a lot to be desired. I hope the RSPCA is not sacrificing its principles in favour of commercial considerations and possible income generation.'
The newly designed cartons with the Freedom Food logo will be introduced gradually in all 160 UK stores over the next month initially only on products which include eggs.
A McDonald's spokesman said: 'Freerange eggs are used across all stores and we are delighted that they conform with Freedom Food's high standards.'
A spokesman for the RSPCA said: 'Freedom Food was launched with freerange eggs in 1994 and we have given the stamp on a range of products. This is the first time we have given it to a fast-food outlet but McDonald's meets all the conditions.
'The welfare of animals has always been, and will always be, our prime concern.'
The charity is paid 4p for every 30 dozen eggs branded with the logo. In the case of McDonald's, which last year used 80 million eggs in its burger products, this will generate an annual income of around GBP 9,000.
But critics say money is not the biggest issue. Freedom Food, which now covers sheep, poultry, cattle and pigs, promises its animals are free from fear, distress, pain, injury and disease and that they should be free to express normal behaviour.
Undercover footage of some 'approved' farms has revealed animals in seeming distress. Chickens are still debeaked in what animal-rights supporters regard as a mindlessly cruel practice.
Last month BBC television's Watchdog showed secret film which claimed to show that some participants were failing to deliver promised 'freedoms'.
And RSPCA officials were reported as saying the monitoring effort was inadequate, with only 28 assessors to cover nine million animals.
A spokesman for Hillside Animal Welfare Sanctuary, a farm animal refuge and leading campaign group, said: 'McDonald's has been at the forefront of a number of environmental concerns. It is a company the RSPCA should not be endorsing. We have also investigated Freedom Food and found animals living in squalor.'
The objects of the society are crystal clear -the prevention of cruelty to animals means just that. If Charity Law prevents the Society from achieving its objects then the tine is long overdue for the Council to address the matter. There is just. too much cruelty to animals in this country, in laboratories, in farms, in so called sport and entertainment.
Thank you so much for your letters of support and your help with our postage costs. RSPCA Members Watchdog newsletter is NOT a secret organisation. We welcome questions. The falling membership and the shortage of voluntary workers is an illustration of the dissatisfaction felt within the Society.
We repeat and will continue to repeat that the Council needs a strong Chairperson and an internationally known President. The animals need help urgently.
Best wishes for 2002
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