RSPCA inspector Julie Lyons is a regular at North Staffordshire Magistrates Court, where she has helped to secure banning orders against a number of pet owners.
Miss Lyons, an RSPCA inspector for 12-years, who lives in the Moorlands, said: “We are seeing a lot more cruelty cases against dogs.
“I don't think it's down to people not being able to afford them anymore, “It is up to the courts to sentence people. As long as they leave court knowing they have done something wrong, I am happy.
Although the number of prosecutions are up, the Animal Welfare Act, which came into force last year, has made it possible for action to be taken as soon as animal welfare concerns are flagged up. RSPCA officers can now seize pets immediately if they are not being looked after properly, or are being treated badly.
Parliamentary Question 23rd Feb 2010
To ask Her Majesty's Government under what authority, controls and supervision and in what circumstances officers of a charity are empowered to (a) remove a pet from its owner's care, (b) keep it in their own care, (c) deny access to it to the owner, and (d) refuse to inform the owner of the place in which it is kept. [HL2038]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Davies of Oldham)
Charities have no power under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 to seize pet animals. The power of seizure can be exercised only by a police officer, an officer of a local authority or Animal Health.
THE RSPCA CALLED TO ACCOUNT
OVER THE past twenty years Jonathan (‘Joe’) Rich has defended well over 200 people - mainly farmers, huntsmen, kennel owners and dog breeders. In 2007, he famously and successfully defended pet shop owner Simon Gilbert three times. Joe recently acted for Paul Shotton, Labour’s former deputy Mayor of Stoke-on-Trent, and his wife Annette during their successful appeal. He is recognised as a leading consumer specialist by all the main legal directories.
RK:You refer to RSPCA inspectors as ‘ordinary members of the public’. Do you think it is misleading for them to call themselves inspectors?
JR:Yes, I think it is quite misleading - especially when they wear police-style uniforms. There was a very interesting article in the Sunday Times about this issue a year or so ago. The RSPCA is, contrary to appearances, a private organisation. Some people are terrified of the RSPCA, and there is absolutely no need to be. No RSPCA employee, so far as I am aware, has any special powers or is even an inspector for the purposes of the Animal Welfare Act. Indeed, if they are, I want to know about it! The title ‘RSPCA Inspector’ is just a job title, given to an RSPCA employee working for the inspectorate department when they finish their twelve weeks of training.
The society gives some of its more senior employees even more impressive sounding titles: ‘Chief Superintendent’ and the like. However, they are all just job titles; it’s not like the police - RSPCA inspectors are not even constables. To think otherwise is a natural mistake to make. One problem which is regularly encountered is a police officer who thinks that the RSPCA is some sort of agency, or that its employees somehow have more powers than ordinary members of the public. If a police officer tells you, or behaves as if the RSPCA is an agency or has special powers, then that policeman needs to be corrected.