Friday, 31 October 2008
Would they have been there faster if there was a film crew on site ?
MIRACULOUS moggy Chelsea has a Manchester United supporting firefighter to thank for keeping her nine lives intact.
The lucky cat was rescued by firefighters after getting stuck up a chimney at her Port Talbot home for four days, during some of the coldest weather of the year so far.
Owners Rhian James and her 20-year-old daughter Kayleigh Morris first discovered their two-year-old feline had gone missing last Sunday night.
"She doesn't go out normally," said Miss James.
"She's a home cat, but I couldn't find her anywhere on Sunday.
"I thought it was strange for her to go out because the weather was so bad.
"Later that evening I heard her miaowing and found her on top of the roof on the chimney — she was stuck and couldn't get down."
The 44-year-old, stayed up all night keeping an eye on her adventurous pet.
However, by Monday Chelsea had disappeared from view, having gone back down the chimney.
"I could hear her from my bedroom, and then she went silent," she said.
"I was so worried."
Repeated calls to the RSPCA frustrated Miss James because, initially, the organisation refused to come to rescue the cat.
And with Chelsea making no noise, her owners were starting to fear the worst.
"Kayleigh was distraught and thought Chelsea had frozen to death, but I told her not to give up.
"Chelsea is more than a cat, she is like one of the family.
"Our pet dog of 13 years, Prince, had recently been put down so we were hoping and praying Chelsea would be okay.
"I was at my wits' end, and was losing patience with the RSPCA."
Eventually, on Wednesday, an RSPCA officer came to the house and put in a request for the fire service to help.
Chelsea had managed to get herself trapped in a pothole within the chimney.
Two officers spent about an hour on the roof using extendable poles and a catcher to get her out.
"As soon as they arrived she started to miaow, and we knew she was alive," said Miss James.
"We were so relieved.
"The fireman who got her out was disappointed her name was Chelsea, though, as he is a Manchester United fan.
"But they were so determined and didn't give up until she was safe.
"They cradled her like a baby when they eventually got her out. We are so grateful to them."
As for Chelsea?
"She's lost a lot of weight but is slowly putting it back on," said Miss James.
"She's been spoiled rotten with extra cuddles and bowls of milk.
"I don't know how on earth she got up there, but we're not letting her out of our sight for a long time."
Wednesday, 29 October 2008
Animal Owners Against Persecution ask where is the Public Interest in PROSECUTING the Mum of 4 year old following kitten tragedy ?
A MOTHER who discovered her four-year-old son had put a kitten into a microwave has been prosecuted by the RSPCA.
Cassie, a smooth-haired cat, who belonged to Claire Elizabeth Frear, 23,
Frear believed the cat had recovered sufficiently and left Cassie an hour later.
When she returned six hours later the four-month-old cat was dead, said RSPCA prosecutor Christopher Wyatt.
RSPCA inspectors and police, acting on a tip-off about the microwave incident, attended Frear’s home, but Frear was not at home.
Neighbours indicated she was at her parents’ home so inspectors went there and obtained permission to enter her property.
Mr Wyatt said that later Frear was quizzed again and she told them what had happened to Cassie. She had been upstairs at her home when she heard the kitten crying.
Racing outside to an outhouse, she found that her son had placed the animal into the microwave.
Hilary Doherty, defending, said her client’ son had mental health difficulties and was being tested for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Frear had left him alone only briefly while she went upstairs to fetch her son some clothes for a trip to her parents.
Miss Doherty added: “She really does accept that she ought to have known the kitten was poorly and she ought to have known to take it to a vet.”
Enough is enough, let RSPCA prosecutions be handled by an external body without any conflict of interest. The distress caused to this family far outweighs any public interest or financial contributions gained by the RSPCA from donations generated by publicity, they are proving that they care more about animals than people.
When an injured fox cub entered their garden, a concerned couple called the RSPCA to see how they could help the animal.
But following the advice given to them by the charity's hotline proved to be costly.
Valerie and Ivor Langford from Tamworth, Staffordshire, claim the RSPCA told them to lure the fox into their conservatory and lock it in until their arrival.
But the frightened fox then proceeded to tear the couple's luxury conservatory to shreds causing over £1,000 worth of damage.
Retired Ivor said: "We had seen this fox cub playing around the house, and we thought it had been in a car accident.
"Other people had said it was quite tame and not frightened, so we gave it food.
"But we became worried about it, so my wife rang the RSPCA, as we weren't sure what to do.
"The RSPCA said the best thing to do was to encourage it into the conservatory, my wife offered it some food, and being quite relaxed, it was happy to follow her in there.
"It was OK in there for a while, as he had some food. But as soon as he realised he was trapped, he went berserk."
As the hours passed, the couple's conservatory was torn apart by the pesky cub, who scratched his way through their curtains, carpets and anything that it could bite.
"We kept calling the RSPCA to tell them it was wrecking the conservatory, but they just kept saying that someone was on their way," he added. "But it was five hours before they arrived."
After its rampage, the cub was so tired, the RSPCA officer was able to calmly pick it up and put it in the van.
"When the RSPCA turned up, they said it was very badly infected, and that they needed to take it to the vet immediately.
"After about 15 minutes or so, they rang and said that it was so badly infected, there was no other alternative than to put it down.
"They said it had many contagious diseases, we had to clear out the whole conservatory - absolutely everything.
"We had to strip the whole place. The curtains, blinds, pictures it made a total mess."
The couple even had to take their beloved cat to the vets, where they had to pay an extra £70 to give it an antibiotic injection.
A spokesperson for the RSPCA said: "We received a call about a thin, injured fox in Tamworth.
"The RSPCA Animal Collection Officer advised that in order to contain the fox we would set a trap, once a trap became available. All of the traps were in use at the time. The ACO said that if the fox was contained in some other way to call us back and we would come and collect it.
"The caller stated the fox cub was very tame and had previously been fed in their conservatory. Three days later the RSPCA received a further call to say the fox was confined in their conservatory.
"An RSPCA inspector attended on the same day taking the fox to the local vets for examination.
"Sadly the fox had bad sarcoptic mange on its back and on veterinary advice was put to sleep to end its suffering. The vet advised that the callers conservatory could be cleaned with bleach and water and household flee spray could be used on the furnishings. The inspector gave the caller this advice."
Thursday, 23 October 2008
Wantage Pcs Darren James and Marc Lester were singled out by the Self Help for Farmers Group in an attack against police spending too much time on "animal crime".
The SHG criticised Operation Migrate, claiming the officers should not be patrolling the countryside looking for hare coursing but concentrate on investigating assaults and burglaries instead.
The group also claimed policing priorities were being set by the RSPCA — an allegation refuted by Thames Valley Police.
Pc James said Operation Migrate involved more than just tackling hare coursers.
He added: "My role is not solely focused on hare coursing. As a neighbourhood specialist officer, it's my job to tackle the crimes and problems highlighted by our communities.
"In this way, we get many complaints by local landowners about hare coursers operating illegally on their land and causing damage to their properties and it's our duty to deal with this illegal activity.
"Also, Operation Migrate is not primarily for hare coursing but is about us tackling all kinds of rural crime in the Wantage area, such as metal theft, criminal damage and farm burglaries.
"While we work closely with them, it's completely incorrect to suggest that our policing priorities are dictated by the RSPCA."
The SHG was formed by a group of farmers to campaign against what they see as RSPCA campaigns affecting people who live in the countryside.
They criticised Pcs James and Lester, claiming they were two examples of officers who were concentrating on the wrong types of crime, after they featured in an Oxford Mail report on the hare coursing operation two weeks ago.
Spokesman Anne Kasica said: "We now have far too many demands on the time and resources of the police.
"One of their biggest problems is that highly funded animal rights campaign groups, such as the RSPCA, put intense pressure on the police to concentrate on more minor offences, instead of dealing with burglaries and assaults.
"We need to know how police priorities are decided. Surely the main priority must be community safety, not assisting the RSPCA."
Pc James said policing priorities were set during Neighbourhood Action Group meetings made up of residents, councillors and other members of the public.
Neighbourhood Sgt for Hungerford, Andy Bone, said: “All hare coursing is illegal in this country and yet there are people who still participate in the activity.
“They are nothing but a nuisance to local farmers. They damage crops, fences and buildings and are very often in breach of various traffic laws. The hare coursers are also illegally using The Ridgeway.
“Hare coursing happens in an area which borders both Oxfordshire and West Berkshire which is why we are doing this operation jointly.
“We are also able to cover a greater area with more officers enabling us to provide a visible presence and increase our ability to arrest as many offenders as possible.
“Anybody caught hare coursing will be arrested and their vehicles and dogs will be seized. We are working jointly with the RSPCA actively patrolling the areas targeting those responsible.
“Operation Oust will be running right through to Spring 2009 and will involve a team of up to 20 officers working together to put a stop to this activity.”
Martin Dickinson, from Felthorpe, near Norwich, and his dad George had been fishing at Hickling Broad as part of a week-long holiday on the Norfolk Broads. As they headed back to Potter Heigham, where they are staying, they spotted a black swan with a fishing hook caught in its mouth.
They tried desperately to get help from the RSPCA, calling the charity four times, but were yesterday told that no one was available to help.
In the end, they tried to help the distressed swan themselves. A spokeswoman for the RSPCA said: “The officer who was on was about an hour and a half away and the other officer was quite a way away and wouldn't have been able to do it on her own. We were also holding an animal action week in Great Yarmouth so some staff were tied up with that.“We also needed to get a boat out and we wouldn't have been able to do this before it got dark. We called Keith Glen-West at Water Bird Rescue, a local bird rescuer, and the swan would've been rescued this morning or this afternoon.”But today the Dickinsons' told the Evening News of their shock that one of the nation's largest animal charities was not able to come to the rare bird's aid.
Mr Dickinson, 36, a self-employed tree surgeon, said: “I thought to myself 'I'm not leaving it'. We spent three hours trying to sort it out. I was totally disgraced with how unhelpful the RSPCA was. They said that unfortunately all the people we needed were on a training thing or in a meeting so no one was able to help.
“Black swans are such a beautiful animal to have on the Norfolk Broads and they were unable to do anything for us. I was shocked.”Mr Dickinson said they were unable to capture the swan but he just managed to catch hold of the lure. The lure tore itself out of the swan's mouth and they got the lure out.“The swan was not very happy about me doing it. It followed us back to Potter Heigham,” said Mr Dickinson. “We've now managed to get it to go with the other swans.”He said he had tried to call a swan rescue helpline but got given the same number he had for the RSPCA. He later found out that the hook had been in the swan's mouth for about two weeks.
Black swans are native to Australia and are the state bird of Western Australia. They were brought to the UK as ornamental birds like peacocks and golden pheasants. There have been occasional reports of successful breeding attempts in the UK but black swans have not become established and face competition from native swans.
Wednesday, 22 October 2008
Peter Suggett was walking his dog at 9am yesterday near a children's play area when he spotted the trapped animal.
The young female roe deer had apparently tried to leap a wire fence and caught a hind leg in a loop of wire at the top.
Mr Suggett said: "The poor thing was injured and very distressed. We tried to get it free, but we couldn't."
Local people phoned the police and the RSPCA, and then an animal veterinary hospital at Mainstone.
When the police arrived at Glenholt, because the animal was in a bad way and near to a playground used by young children, the decision was taken to shoot it to end its suffering.
The deer was killed with a single rifle shot from a police marksman, and the city council was contacted about removal of the corpse.
The police explained that the RSPCA had told them that all their inspectors were busy, and could not say when one would be free to attend to the distressed animal.
But some Glenholt residents were unhappy about the way the whole incident was handled.
Raymond Waddington, 61, said: "The animal's leg was broken and bleeding, and it was stressed out, but if it had been tranquilised, I think it would have survived, even if the leg had had to be amputated.
"I've seen programmes on TV about deer with three legs.
"A vet from the veterinary hospital at Mainstone arrived only two minutes after the police shot it. I had trouble finding a phone number for the RSPCA, and eventually had to ring one of its charity shops and ask."
"I think the situation was handled terribly."
Nobody from the RSPCA was available to comment yesterday.
We wonder if the RSPCA will prosecute the Police Officer involved for his humane actions as they did PC Jonathon Bell of Staffordshire Police ? PC Bell put an injured cat out of its misery after it was hit by a car, after a 2 year legal battle following the RSPCA prosecuting PC Bell for cruelty, 8 hearings and £50,000 wasted on legal fees PC Bell was quite rightly acquited. PC Bell's supporters accuse the RSPCA of harassment and say the Constable has been "to hell and back". He spent a month off work with stress as the legal process ground on.Pc Bell, who is married with two children, was acquitted when the trial eventually went ahead. District Judge Graham Richards told him: "You did what you honestly thought best. You walk out of here without a stain on your character."
Yet despite the judge's words, the RSPCA carried on pursuing the case until, at the High Court, Mr Justice Bean refused leave to appeal.
See links below for further details;
Tuesday, 21 October 2008
She left with a £30 donation towards an operation that cost £530. “I was so upset,” she said.
“There’s no help for anyone in my situation.” Miss Thomas, 44, who takes medication for chronic abdominal pain, said neither the RSPCA nor the PDSA could offer more than donations because of where she lived.
“A lot of people from Shaw Heath and Longridge will be in the same situation as me,” she said.
“I think there should be somewhere to go.”
Twiggy later underwent an operation to treat mammary tumours at Ark Veterinary Surgery in Mobberley Road.
The Self Help Group for farmers, Pet Owners and Others experiencing difficulties with the RSPCA have been campaigning for years for an animal NHS for the animals of pensioners and those on benefits.
The RSPCA frequently turns people away and threatens them with prosecution if they fail to obtain prohibitively expensive treatment for an animal that may well have been their sole companion for its entire life, or put it down.
Animals are a part of the lives of many people in this country and it is totally unacceptable for one of the richest charities in this country to turn people who ask for help away thus making animal keeping the province only of the very wealthy.
Shame on the RSPCA who have failed to meet the needs of Sue and Twiggy.
Perhaps now the government will divert some of the squandered lottery millions into providing for animal welfare and preventing suffering by creating an animal NHS.
Monday, 20 October 2008
Animal collections, Down 18.7%
Homes found, Down 30.8%
Treatments, Down 18.9%
Humane destructions** Up 85.7%
Income, Up 66.1%
BPC chief executive, Peter Bradnock, said,”The RSPCA conclusion from its own survey is misleading and is not being reflected in the marketplace. The RSPCA is misrepresenting the good standards already in place on British chicken farms to promote its own “Freedom Food” brand and is ignoring the fact that the major retailers are already selling British chickens reared to standards that exceed the “Freedom Food” requirements“.
British chickens sold in supermarkets are reared to rigorous Red Tractor Chicken Assurance standards, which cover both indoor and free-range chickens. These Standards are owned and managed independently from the chicken industry, and every farm is inspected at least once every year by independent auditors.
The Red Tractor Assured Chicken Standards are more comprehensive than the RSPCA “Freedom Food” brand requirements ensuring high levels of farm hygiene and food safety for consumers, as well as providing a protective environment for the chickens to be able to express their natural behaviors.
Commenting further, Bradnock said: “The RSPCA’s claims about a sudden amazing change in shoppers’ behaviour based on its own survey are not borne out by consumers’ actual buying decisions in supermarkets.
"Free range chicken sales under Red Tractor standards had been increasing consistently throughout last year, long before the Channel 4 celebrity chefs’ entertainment programmes screened in January this year.“
January 2008 sales for free range have shown a 35% increase on January 2007 but only an 11% increase on November 2007, showing there was already a significant growth trend.
However, free range chicken sales, at just 6% of total UK chicken sales are still only a small, albeit growing, part of the national shoppers’ buying preferences.
Friday, 17 October 2008
Wednesday, 15 October 2008
There are questions being asked, however, about how much this organisation in its present guise is a positive force for animal welfare, as its founders wished. There are several areas in which these concerns arise.
There are reports of ‘bully-boy’ tactics in seizing animals, often illegally, from people who have no wish to hurt animals. These seized animals are sometimes reported to be inadequately kept and to end up dead, with no chance for their legal owners to collect defence evidence. On the question of illegal seizure, the RSPCA has long known the law and has apparently knowingly flouted it, according to its own statements, in the pursuit of prosecutions. The RSPCA has a vested interest in prosecutions, since they attract more funds, yet it is still allowed to bring them and to take statements under oath. The Police and Customs & Excise no longer bring prosecutions themselves, instead going through the Crown Prosecution Service. The Scottish SPCA (SSPCA*) does not bring its own prosecutions and has been heard to list the disadvantages (and unwarranted cost) of doing so. Is the risking of charitable funds by the RSPCA, on prosecutions where the outcome is by no means certain, a legitimate and charitable use of their money?
RSPCA Inspectors have intimidating, police-like uniforms and read out people’s rights, telling them that "you are not under arrest …". What does that do to a respectable lady of 70 years? The terror can only be imagined. There are many cases in which it could be argued that education and communication were needed, not the strong arm of criminal law. Animal welfare, not convictions, should be the objective. Can a body, with a clear and manifest vested interest in prosecutions and with no constitutional ‘checks and balances’ in place, be safe with this right and capability?
There is evidence that many in the RSPCA may be against natural medicine, particularly homeopathy but also aromatherapy, acupuncture, herbal medicine etc. Prosecutions are often brought, against people using homeopathy, with no veterinary homeopathic expert brought in to support the prosecution evidence brought by the RSPCA. Similar deficits are seen in cases where herbal medicine, acupuncture, aromatherapy etc. have been used. This approach appears to be borne of ignorance and to be fuelled by prejudice within the veterinary profession. In order to guide owners in their use of natural therapies, for animal welfare and relative security from prosecution, we have formulated some guidelines: Responsible use of natural therapies for animal welfare.
Many small, private animal rescue centres have been the subject of prosecutions. These centres attract funding from the animal-loving public, albeit in a small way, which might otherwise go to the RSPCA. One hopes that there is no connection between these facts. There is talk of licensing such establishments and the RSPCA is angling for the inspecting duty for this. Can a competing body, with no checks and balances, safely be granted such a rôle?
There are anxieties about an organisation which can set up a so-called ‘welfare standard’ for farm livestock (Freedom Food), market the food at a large premium on account of its claimed welfare merits, yet not publish the names of the farms that subscribe (see also 'Farm Assurance'). There is, footage to show that welfare standards on such farms are not what they are supposed to be. There have been reports of hot-wire de-beaking of chickens and tail-docking of pigs, to prevent the cannibalism caused by the stress of over-crowding. The Director General of the RSPCA (Peter Davies) was heard, on BBC Watchdog, to say that intensive farming was a necessity. Why would a welfare organisation support such a view, unless its vested interest in Freedom Food necessitates it?
Anyway, Freedom Food is not a standard for granting a 'free' outdoor life to farm animals, as one might be led to believe from idyllic photographs. Rather it is claimed to aspire to allow the animals 'five freedoms': from 'hunger & thirst', from 'discomfort', from 'pain, injury or disease', from 'fear & distress' and to be able to 'express normal behaviour'. This is an 'aspirational' standard, not an actual standard and requirement for member farms. The Daily Telegraph reported on the RSPCA's subsequent witch hunt (at great financial cost), for the council member who spoke out on the programme. Free CDs are obtainable from http://www.hillside.org.uk/. Footage and reports can be viewed at: http://www.hillside.org.uk/, to compare reality against expectation.
It may be surprising to learn that the Freedom Food logo has even been ‘sold’ to MacDonalds (of all companies) and other retailers, and appears on their take-out food packs. It is not clear what the RSPCA earns from this.
The RSPCA has written disparaging remarks about welfare on organic farms (their direct competitor in the market place, for food sold at a premium) and about the use of homeopathy on organic livestock units. There is talk of licensing all livestock farms, whether organic or not. The RSPCA could be in line for the inspecting duty for this. Can a competing body, with a vast commercial interest, with a self-confessed prejudice and with no constitutional ‘checks and balances’, be safely granted such a rôle?
The RSPCA recently published its 10-point Action Plan, in the wake of the Foot & Mouth Disease disaster. In it are some worthwhile proposals, which had often been made by others, long before the FMD crisis! It speaks of the evils of long-distance travel to slaughter, remarking that this has long been known. Why did this 10-point Plan not appear before, if it was so obvious to the RSPCA? Where was the RSPCA, when animals needed them? Others have spoken out stridently about such things while the RSPCA, with enough funds to enable it to be effective, stood back. What happens to RSPCA ‘Freedom Food’ animals destined for slaughter? Has the 10-point Plan yet achieved anything, for the welfare of farm animals?
Where was the RSPCA when animals were starving and drowning in fields, left there because of Foot and Mouth (FMD) movement restrictions, in 2001? The MAFF (now DEFRA) appeared to be guilty of mass and corporate cruelty, by leaving these animals to starve (in the interest of conserving our meat export market). Why was there no prosecution? The RSPCA may have been guilty because it did nothing. It could have brought prosecutions against MAFF. With its millions, it could also have paid the military to airlift and drop hay for these unfortunate creatures.
Where was the RSPCA, during the same crisis, when animals were being wrongly shot, being left to die slowly in the piles of their dead fellows? Was this what they refer to as ‘necessary suffering’?
Where is the voice of the RSPCA, among those who object to animal experimentation on scientific, moral and ethical grounds?
Where was the RSPCA, when reports were made over a period of years, about the Buckinghamshire horse and donkey welfare disaster? When action was finally taken (January 2008), the very expert RSPCA media-machine revelled in media coverage and basked in glory, omitting to mention or explain the RSPCA's inactivity over years. Had there been earlier action, how much suffering could have been averted?
Extract from Blog of January 13th 2008:
The horse, pony and donkey welfare disaster in Buckinghamshire, during last week, is a tragedy of massive proportions. That animals could suffer in this way and be exploited, as they apparently were, is a terrible indictment of our human disrespect for animals. One assumes the full truth will emerge during a prosecution.
While we all struggle to come to terms with the enormity of it and while the horses, ponies and donkeys that have survived are brought back to health and are hopefully given some reason to respect humankind, there are some questions that should be asked.
Without in any way wishing to take away highly-deserved credit from those heroes and heroines in the field, who are now fighting for these unfortunate animals and who have laboured hard for hours and days to bring the situation under control, we have to ask how the central RSPCA machine is so willing to whip up this media circus and claim credit for a job well done, without also airing the other side of the story.
Why is it that good folk in the tiny village of Hyde Heath had to report suspected problems over several years, before the RSPCA finally acted? Local frustration and anger is running high and clients of the AVMC have given us unsolicited clear accounts of inactivity by the RSPCA, in response to numerous local pleas for help, over the years. This is confirmed in media reports. Accounts of dead horses left lying in fields and horses in very poor condition are recurring themes.
Why is it that the RSPCA can bask in glory, revel in the news coverage and attract a massive, emotionally-driven funding boost, without admitting or explaining their inactivity on many previous occasions? This ‘economy with the truth’ sits very uncomfortably with the image that the RSPCA would like to project. How much obscene suffering could have been prevented, had the Society acted on the first report? One cannot help but feel that the 31 dead animals found there and the rescued animals represented but the tip of a ghastly iceberg.
Continued at http://chris-day.blogware.com/
It may surprise the reader to know that there appear to be no controls over the RSPCA. There is a Police Complaints Commission; there is an Insurance Ombudsman; there are watchdogs for telephone, electricity and gas suppliers. There is no such person or body to apply checks and balances to the actions and activities of the RSPCA. It operates outside the Freedom of Information Act 2000. Nonetheless, this organisation has been given even more powers, through the Animal Welfare Act 2006 (successor to the Protection of Animals Act 1911).
Police-like uniforms, police-like ranks, the right to take a statement under oath, the right to bring criminal prosecutions without a ‘filter’ being applied by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), the secrecy over the ‘Freedom Food’ scheme, the routine mutilation of animals in that scheme; are these the usual activities that we would like to associate with an animal welfare charity?
It is always worth looking at the spending pattern of any charity, to which one is considering making a contribution. If a charity spends your money on an activity, you are effectively funding that activity. It is prudent to be sure that you agree with the actual use of the money, rather than the stated objectives of the charity. The case of P.C. Jonathan Bell, who was prosecuted for killing a seriously injured cat, in which he was acquitted, a verdict against which the RSPCA tried unsuccessfully to appeal, should be read (Daily Telegraph 8th April 2006). The BBC aired a report on this case: 'The RSPCA and the Dead Cat', at 10am on Sunday, April 9 on BBC Radio Five Live. The relevant web page is: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/staffordshire/4889574.stm .
Animals desperately need a champion. The money that has been donated to the RSPCA has been given for the cause of animal welfare. We sincerely hope that the RSPCA will revisit its roots and remember its original purpose. In this way, we may regain an effective and rightly wealthy animal welfare charity, in which we can have confidence and pride.
Also read Protection of Animals Act 1911 and Animal Welfare Act 2006.
Monday, 13 October 2008
Oxfordshire PCs Darren James and Marc Lester are just two of the officers whose time is now spent on this animal crime as part of "Operation Migrate" and "Operation Countrywatch". Both PC James and PC Lester patrol the Downs near Wantage in one of several long-wheelbase Landrover Defenders.
Anne Kasica of the SHG said:
"We now have far too many demands on the time and resources of the police. One of their biggest problems is that highly funded animal rights campaign groups such as the RSPCA put intense pressure on the police to concentrate on more minor offences instead of dealing with burglaries and assaults."
"We need to know how police priorities are decided. Surely the main priority must be community safety, not assisting the RSPCA."
The issues raised over the Oxford situation are being repeated all over the country.
Chris Newman of the Federation of Companion Animal Societies (FOCAS) wrote to the Chief Constable of Hampshire Constabulary last year when his 15 year old son was assaulted and needed hospital treatment and the police were too busy to interview him until some six weeks later.
In the letter Mr. Newman contrasted this with the police presence at an animal welfare incident only two and a half weeks after his son was assaulted, in which, in addition to other attendees, two police officers and three Police Support Officers were present for approximately four hours.
Council appointed Animal Welfare inspector Paula Davies was present throughout and led the investigation into whether the comfort of some pet rabbits had been met.
Mr. Newman asked the Chief Constable whether it was police policy to give priority to animal welfare over human welfare, under what remit civilians such as the RSPCA are permitted to use police facilities to pursue private prosecutions, and whether costs of the use of those facilites are recovered from the RSPCA.
Ernest Vine commented:
"This isn't anyone's idea of keeping the community safe."
"When police initiatives are announced, hare coursing isn't the first crime which leaps to mind - unless, of course, you are an animal rights extremist or you work for MORI."
Mr. Vine concluded:
"It is vital that there is a full and open debate on how police time should be prioritised and whether the police should be at the beck and call of the RSPCA in future."
Saturday, 11 October 2008
The High Court has upheld the legality of using ventilation shutdown as a last resort for culling commercial flocks in the event of an outbreak of avian flu, according to a BBC report.
Lord Justice Auld rejected a claim from the RSPCA who brought the case to the court that ventilation shutdown was "disproportionate".
After the ruling, the RSPCA stressed that it still opposed the method which it claimed would cause "substantial suffering and distress".
“3pm”, she said sharply. “There's no one available to speak to you now.”
And then what? “Then you fill in a form.” Could I do that now?“No, because there's no one available to interview you.”
I glanced again at all the staff behind her. Maybe I could fill in the form and leave it? You know, cut out another visit? It was a three-hour round trip, after all.
“You have to fill it in with us.” Then what?
“Then they come and visit you at home, see if your house is suitable. And then you can come back and see the dogs...”
Which were? No one would tell me. I had to jump through their hoops first, with the almost certain promise of rejection at the end of it.
It's funny how many RSPCA refuseniks you come across once you become one yourself. There was the man who was told that he could have a cat only if he built platforms under the skylights in his London flat - in case the cat climbed across the roof and fell through the window. Or the woman in a rural area who was advised to heighten her fence to 20ft, because some cats like to jump high.
When you see the “Pet Adoption Week” campaign being launched by the RSPCA next week, with Badger the starving terrier who was rescued by a television presenter, remember these stories.
I wouldn't normally have bothered to remark on this. If the charity wants to put down more animals than is necessary, that's its business. Its, and the people who fund it: the RSPCA has an annual income of more than £100 million, and about £200 million in assets, plus many millions more in its 174 branches around the country (the one that I looked up, Solent, had £3.8 million tucked away). The British give more to animal charities than to charities for the disabled. One donkey sanctuary in Devon has higher income than all the main charities fighting abuse against women combined. Still, your business. Give money to what you like.
But now the RSPCA, in its joylessness, is telling schools that they can no longer have pets. Research by the charity has found that a quarter of schools own pets, ranging from a hermit crab to a horse. Hurrah! A small piece of chaos, of life, amid the regimented drilling that we call school.
Not for much longer - the RSPCA believes there is a danger that the kids might be too noisy, or the lighting conditions could be wrong, and that the classroom pet may receive variable care from different families at evenings or weekends.
This is no joke. They really do want to stop it. The charity has sent all schools a letter warning them of their duties under the draconian Animal Welfare Act introduced at its own urging two years ago. That Act imposed a duty of care on any adult in charge of a pet, or any adult responsible for a child who is in possession of an animal.
I went to a different animal sanctuary in the end. They sent over Dave to see whether I might be able to have a cat (I was running with the cat idea by then).
A morose individual, like so many animal obsessives, Dave carefully checked for feline dangers, telling me to be sure to keep the cat shut indoors at night in case it got run over. Isn't depriving a cat of the night a bit like depriving a human being of light? Night-time hunting is what a cat does.
But then, I'm just someone who likes animals. I'm not an obsessive. I think that's healthy. I like humans too. There seems to be a distinction between being a human and being an “animal lover” akin to the difference between riding a bicycle and being a “cyclist”. The militants are similarly at a loss for any sense of humour or humanity.
In the end, we bought a puppy. Please don't tell the RSPCA.
Friday, 10 October 2008
This includes the RSPCA: one of its inspectors was awarded constructive dismissal damages after a saga that included attempting suicide with medication designed to put down animals.
Will Clayton, partner in employment law at the Manchester office of national law firm Hill Dickinson, recently brought a successful claim to tribunal on behalf of former RSPCA Inspector, Dimity Crowley.
Crowley reported sexual harassment and bullying by a chief inspector (who resigned prior to disciplinary proceedings), and medical experts said the experience triggered a “short-term adjustment disorder”.
In October 2004 she attempted suicide. She was successfully treated and her consultant occupational psychiatrist said she had emerged both mentally and emotionally stronger, suggesting in January 2006 that she could return to work. An occupational health expert for the RSPCA disputed Crowley's suitability as an inspector.
Following an appeal by Crowley, a second adviser accepted she could return to work, but insisted on changes to her contract and an agreement from Crowley (who was pregnant at the time) that her GP could report any signs of psychological illness directly to the RSPCA. Crowley resigned a short while later before her maternity leave was due to begin.Trial“I was devastated to lose my job as it was my true vocation,” said Crowley.
“The RSPCA"s treatment towards me has been grossly unfair, enormously upsetting and demoralising given that I was a dedicated Inspector. I received no compassion and little support. I am left exasperated by the way in which I was treated.” After a four-day trial in December 2007, the tribunal agreed that Crowley had been constructively dismissed, that the GP consent issue was an unjustified invasion of privacy and represented a fundamental breach of her employment contract and consequently awarded her £30,000 in compensation. “This case is a severe warning to any employer who adopts overly rigid or aggressive health management practices of employees looking to return to work after a period of long term ill-health,” Clayton commented. “I was left with no choice but to take the RSPCA to an employment tribunal.
This lengthy and daunting process was extremely stressful. “Due to a poorly managed HR department, the RSPCA wasted huge donations received from members of the public in order to fight this case.
I am obviously thrilled to have won, however it is a shame that it ended up in a costly four-day trial.” Employees are now much more aware of their rights and if employers want to avoid embarrassment and costly proceedings then they must ensure that their grounds for dismissal are fair and that their procedures are within the law.
Pat Seager 71, of Green Lawn, Birkenhead, was disqualified from keeping animals with the exception of cats, dogs and grey squirrels for which she holds a licence.
The pensioner, who has taken in rescue animals for the past 40 years, pleaded guilty to eight offences of failing to meet the needs of animals in her care and was given a three year ban.
The town’s MP Frank Field wrote a letter to the court that said: “I feel so strongly about your treatment that had I not had a key meeting on the day of your court appearance, I would have come back to Birkenhead to give evidence for you. I believe the RSPCA has grossly mistreated you and now finds it difficult to back off.”
Miss Seager said: “The saddest thing is what will happen to the animals now - people will have nowhere to take them.
“The RSPCA won’t take wildlife in as they will leave nature to take its course.
“I don’t understand why the RSPCA are being so vindictive. I’m devastated.”
Christopher Johnson, prosecuting on behalf of the RSPCA, told the court how several birds had been kept in cages that were insufficient in height, length and breadth for their wing span.
He also told the court that a hedgehog was suffering from decayed teeth possibly due to a diet of cat food and had a skin infection that if left could cause unnecessary pain and suffering.
The court heard how RSPCA inspectors first visited Ms Seagar’s home in 2006.
Further visits in 2007 culminated in a warning notice in which she was given a period of time to rectify the matter and find suitable accommodation for the animals, but nothing had been done when the RSPCA visited again.
Defending solicitor Paul Davison said: “Ms Seagar does not go out looking for these animals, people bring them to her.
"Because of the number she has, she could not accommodate them anywhere else, but neither could she release the wild animals as they would die.”
Report by Carol Emmass
Thursday, 9 October 2008
The case took so long to determine - 18 months - that it could not be referred to in either Radio 4's "File on 4" or Five Live's "McIntyre".
Ludovic and Murvilla Kancels' pet dog Bully, three years old, was seized 18 months ago by the RSPCA and kept in an RSPCA secret "place of safety". The RSPCA's expert Martin Lawton claimed that the seized animal had "suffered unnecessarily" from thinness as a result of being "starved".
Defence vet Daniel Mackenzie-Frazer made clear Bully was not suffering. She was, in fact, feeding pups and this led to loss of condition. He said: "She was thin but not emaciated and followed her owner into the vets which she wouldn't have done if she was in considerable pain".
Mr Kancel had approached Oak Hill Vets the day before Bully was seized and asked for advice on feeding her. It was obvious that he cared deeply for her. Mr Mackenzie-Frazer added: "There has been no evidence of pain in this case. The dog was thin because she had just given birth to puppies and had dedicated her time to allowing them to feed rather than feeding herself".
However, the RSPCA, always hungry for a conviction, elected to rely on Martin Lawton. Both the Kancels, and Kino Hines, were charged with cruelty by starving Bully, perhaps the most serious and emotive animal welfare offence there is, and subjected to the usual media campaign against them.
Criticisms of Lawton made in other matters, in the proceedings against Newham pet-shop owner Simon Gilbert and Lawton's own admission of "reprehensible conduct" in disciplinary proceedings against him before the RCVS, were not disclosed to the defence or to the court.
However, Magistrates saw through the RSPCA's thin case. The submissions of the RSPCA's Solicitors Male & Wagland and Counsel Rex Bryan were, like Martin Lawton's evidence, not accepted.
The court found Ludovic and Murvilla not guilty of causing suffering, AND that there had been no suffering at all.
Bully must be returned and the RSPCA must pay the massive costs. Ludovic and Murvilla very much look forward to having Bully back, and getting to know her again.
After the case, RSPCA Inspector Dawn Avery, herself well-known to the SHG, said that she wanted to "rehome" Bully. Ms Avery said she was "unhappy that Bully spent 18 months in RSPCA kennels while the case was decided".
Ms Avery continued, ominously, that she would "try to monitor the situation and make sure that Bully is okay in the future". The charity paid thousands of pounds for "place of safety" kennels to ensure that Bully was kept away from Ludovic and Murvilla throughout the case.
The charity - given the new powers contained in the Animal Welfare Act 2006 - is perhaps therefore unlikely to leave the matter there.
Anne Kasica, of the SHG, said:
"Bully, happily, was not euthanized, and did not die in the RSPCA's kennel, as happened to Annette Nally's dog Holly. The vast resources spent every year by the RSPCA on its team of fat-cat lawyers, vets and 'place of safety' kennel-owners is sickening."
"The RSPCA says it's 'only' £8 million a year."
"Rex Bryan, Male and Wagland and RSPCA independent witness Martin Lawton have each earned a king's ransom from a series of RSPCA cases."
"I agree with Frank Field MP. It is time that each and every one of the RSPCA's decisions to cause misery is subjected to proper review by the CPS, not by lawyers who personally benefit from the decision to prosecute."
Ernest Vine, also of the SHG, said:
"The RSPCA's new Head of Prosecutions Phil Wilson is not even a lawyer and, after his shameful performance on File on 4, I don't think that the RSPCA should let him near any microphones for a bit."
"Sally Case was hopeless, but Mr Wilson is worse. He is also continuing her policy of wasting RSPCA donations. There are defence and court costs to consider too."
"This ridiculous case about an allegedly thin dog took four days to present to the court. At £300 per hour - and some RSPCA lawyers get even more - each member of the RSPCA's legal team have billed £10,000 for court time alone."
"Martin Lawton is, of course, looking to have his costs of attending the trial for four days paid by the court, and therefore the taxpayer, as usual."
The SHG was officially formed in June 1990 and has been helping people to defend themselves and their animals from the RSPCA ever since.
The national help line number is 0844 700 66 90
A copy of this and previous press releases from The SHG are online at http://www.the-shg.org/SHGPressReleases.htm
Background information on the Self Help Group for Farmers Pet Owners and Other Experiencing Difficulties with the RSPCA can be found at http://www.the-shg.org/
RSPCA LAWYERS ADMIT DOG DIED IN THEIR CUSTODY !
Animal lover Annette Nally however, believes she received bad treatment at the hands of the RSPCA.
Ms Nally, who looks after rescue dogs, was caring for an Alsatian called Holly which had an incurable gastric problem restricting its diet. This meant the dog would never gain much weight.
The RSPCA seized the dog in January 2006 claiming she was not treating it dog properly and Ms Nally was prosecuted.
Wrangling over the disclosure of prosecution documents delayed the trial and she was not able to discover her pet's fate.
Ms Nally's defence convinced the court that in the time the RSPCA kept Holly, it had not treated the dog any any more effectively than its owner.
She was cleared but only discovered Holly's fate when after an order from the judge, the RSPCA's lawyers admitted the dog had died in their custody.
"I was absolutely devastated, the whole idea of going through this was to get her back," she told the BBC.
EXTRACTS FROM BBC RADIO 4 INTERVIEWCatch up at Radio 4's Listen Again site
According to barrister Nick Tucker if a recent case had succeeded "every child who did not take their sick pet to the vet could have been prosecuted".
He says this was the implication in the case of a 15-year-old girl who found herself in court after following her father's advice not to take her injured pet cat to the vets.
Mr Rich said: "It might sound attractive to prioritise the interests of animals but look what it means for a farmer who is looking to retire, whose cattle have not had the right treatment for a day or two - is it really in the interests of the public for him to be prosecuted for cruelty?"
Following a BBC Radio 4’s File on 4 programme which questioned certain ethics followed by the Society when dealing with alleged acts of cruelty.The programme, aired on Tuesday September 23rd, questioned many aspects of the RSPCA’s codes of practice, and included an interview with an MP, barristers, as well as the RSPCA’s Prosecution Case Manager Phil Wilson, and Chief Officer Phil Wass.
The question put to the panel was based on fears that many feel that the RSPCA is too zealous in its prosecutions there are critics who believe that pet owners are becoming victims of allegedly overzealous investigations and prosecutions.
According to barrister Nick Tucker, if a recent case had succeeded, every child who did not take their sick pet to the vet could have been prosecuted. He says this was the implication in the case of a 15 year old girl who found herself n court after following her father’s advice not to take her injured pet cat to the vet.
The girl found her cat had a damaged tail; her father suggested waiting a couple of days to see if the wound healed. The RSPCA prosecuted the father – who admitted an offence of neglect – only to see his daughter later accused of the same offence, with the RSPCA saying she had a duty of care to the cat.
The case was rejected but the RSPCA took it to the Court of Appeal, which rejected the case.
Phil Wilson made no apologies when asked about this case by the programmes presenter Frank Field, MP for Birkenhead, also appeared on the show to speak of his fury at the recent prosecution of a 71 year old woman in his constituency who ran an animal shelter.
Mr Field, who backed the woman on court, told File on 4 that the animals she looked after “lived the life of Riley” in her care. The pensioner had done a lot of good for animals over the years and he had witnessed this at first hand. “The whole thing makes my blood boil, it is so unjust,” he added. He also said that her case was not uncommon. “We need organisations like the RSPCA to properly protect and promote animal welfare and this isn’t the way to do it.”Mr Field said RSPCA members needed to put pressure on its council for a change in policy, otherwise it ought to face an external inquiry.
The MP’s concerns were echoed by barrister Jonathan Rich who said he was very troubled by the sort of defendants who were becoming typical of RSPCA prosecutions.
One comment from Public Opinion on the site states;
"Unfourtunately the RSPCA seem to have lost track of what they were originally formed to do, their prosecutions department seem more interested in generating publicity at any cost, some of the cases where they have prosecuted recently are more than dubious. They seem to totally ignore animal lovers where a fast £ can be made through donations generated by media exposure.The RSPCA are calling for pets to not be sold in petshops ! Schools not to keep animals ! Go around killing holy cows ! prosecuting pensioners, the disabled, elderly and School Children (the more high profile the case the more revenue from media coverage)To cap this they are one of the richest charities in the UK, yet still ask for our money when they have over £100 million in assets, they then spend it prosecuting some unfourtunate 15 year old cat lover !They totally flout and ignore the law of the land where it suits them, basically impersonate Police Officers and will trespass at will whenever it suits them. They should be stopped from mounting prosecutions due to the conflict of interest, or at least ought to be controlled by the CPS or some other safegaurd to ensure fair process."
Another contribution from Alison states;
"The RSPCA go for these cases because they are easy targets. It's much easier to prosecute a 15 year old girl for doing what her dad told her to do, or a 71 year old woman who has cared for dogs all her life, than go after real criminals such as puppy farmers. These are cases that are not really cases in the first place and are getting thrown out of courts so often the RSPCA is becoming a laughing stock - but really it is no laughing matter. There ought to be a public enquiry into all the money the RSPCA waste on spurious cases. It is, after all, money donated for them to stop cruelty to animals, not to persue non-cruelty cases through courts and appeal courts."
View the full thread at http://www.petforums.co.uk/pet-news/16178-mp-calls-reforms-rspca-policies.html
A FURIOUS MP has attacked the RSPCA after a pensioner who ran a voluntary animal shelter was banned from keeping animals.
Birkenhead MP Frank Field defended the reputation of Pat Seager on BBC Radio 4’s File on 4, accusing the charity of having an “unjust” policy on animal cruelty prosecutions.
He also told the BBC that her case was not uncommon and that the RSPCA needs to look “seriously” at its prosecution policy and should put pressure on its council to change it.