Monday, 30 August 2010


The RSPCA is one of Britain’s biggest charities. In 2009 it had an income of nearly £120m, of which over five-sixths came in donations. Its work is highly visible, and it gives the impression of having a moral authority which is beyond question. I wonder, how-ever, whether the general public really understands its nature and powers.
Recently, a woman from Coventry, Mary Bale, was recorded on camera behaving rather cruelly to a neighbour’s cat. Evidently under the impression that she was unobserved, she picked the cat up by the scruff of the neck and dropped it in a wheely bin. The cat wasn’t discovered for 15 hours or so, but has since recovered from its ordeal. The neighbours who filmed Miss Bale put the film on YouTube, where it quickly generated a quite extraordinary amount of outrage and hatred. As I write, Miss Bale’s job at a Scottish bank is under threat.
Enter the RSPCA. It was reported that Miss Bale has been “interviewed” by the animal charity, and that they are deciding whether or not to prosecute her. Reading this, you will probably assume that the RSPCA is acting in accordance with its powers. But, in fact, the RSPCA only has the power to bring a private prosecution against somebody who it believes has mistreated an animal. Any private individual could do exactly the same. It has no power to enter anyone’s property uninvited, nor to interview anyone. All it can do is to remove the animal, and to alert the police.
There is plenty of evidence to suggest that the RSPCA’s modes of behaviour are generally interpreted as those of a branch of the police. Unlike other charities, their workers wear police-like uniforms with insignia and badges. It has been reported that RSPCA workers issue a verbal warning very similar to that made by arresting police officers – “You do not have to say anything, but it may harm your defence...”
No doubt Miss Bale’s behaviour, recorded on the internet, was rather cruel to the poor cat. If she committed a crime, there was some clear video evidence. All the neighbours had to do was to send the evidence to the police, who would decide whether or not there was a case of cruelty to an animal to answer. What on earth was the role of the RSPCA in all of this, and why was it getting involved to the extent of “interviewing” Miss Bale? It wasn’t as if the cat was going to be taken away from a neglectful or brutal owner.
In fact, the RSPCA has about as many powers to interview and enter private premises as any other charity. If the directors of what used to be the Distressed Gentlefolks’ Association took to putting on uniforms and demanding to interview us to discover if we had distressed a gentleman in the street, we would not care for it. If Miss Bale committed a crime against a cat, let the police prosecute her. I dare say they have more of a sense of perspective than this immensely wealthy pressure group, too.

Friday, 27 August 2010



Arnold the squirrel on death row after RSPCA raids house full of animals

Arnold the squirrel is likely to be put down because it is against the law to cage a wild animal and as a non-native species he cannot be released. IT WAS apparently intended to be an act of kindness.
Seven years ago, Kindred Hummer's daughter called her mum from a park in Brough and said a baby squirrel was being kicked by a group of teenagers.
She asked if she could bring him home and Ms Hummer, seemingly unaware she was breaking the law, agreed.
They named him Arnold and kept him in the loft. When he was a baby he would apparently sit on their shoulders.
He lived in a cage and was let out for a "mad half hour" during the daytime.
Now, after he was taken away by the RSPCA, Arnold faces a death sentence and will most likely be put down.
As reported today, RSPCA officers found Arnold along with more than 50 cats when the raided Ms Hummer's Anlaby home.
The squirrel cannot be allowed to live out his days in captivity because it is against the law to cage a wild animal.
But he cannot be released into the wild because he is a non-native species in the UK.
Ms Hummer said: "When she asked if she could bring him home, I automatically said yes. We tried to put it in a tree and see if the other squirrels would look after him, but they didn't.
"We have kept him ever since. I did not know it was wrong."
RSPCA inspector Sarah Keith said: "It is sad he was taken out of the wild and is now in this situation."

Tuesday, 24 August 2010


Footage has been unveiled showing a woman dumping a helpless kitten in a wheelie bin for no apparent reason.

The cruel act was caught on CCTV by the cat's owners, Daryll and Stephanie Mann, at their Coventry home.
They discovered the trapped cat when they heard her cries and decided to check the footage from their security camera to see how she ended up in the bin.
But when they saw the video, they were shocked to discover it was the work of a middle-aged woman.

The grey-haired lady is caught petting the animal on camera, before looking around to see if she is being watched.
Coventry Police said they had been alerted to what had happened and had passed the matter to the RSPCA.

Monday, 23 August 2010


Norris Atthey is a retired military policeman who for some years has been trying to defend one of the last pockets of red squirrels left in England , around Morpeth in Northumberland (see his website, Morpeth Red Squirrels). He does so by destroying the grey squirrels which across most of the country have seen off their red cousins, not least by infecting them with a fatal disease, squirrel pox. There used to be a bounty on them and it is still an offence to release them into the wild, since they are officially vermin. After trapping them, Mr Atthey has quite legally shot hundreds with an air pistol, very much more humane than hitting them over the head in a sack, as Natural England and other wildlife bodies prefer.
Mr Atthey was outraged when a Burton window cleaner was recently given a criminal record and lost £1,547 in costs after being prosecuted by the RSPCA for drowning a grey squirrel. He publicly challenged the charity by announcing that he had drowned one too. The ever-zealous RSPCA rose to the bait, knocking on his door to demand an interview. He responded that he had no more to say, beyond his published statement. Next morning, the RSPCA official returned, summoning two policemen to arrest Mr Atthey for “causing unnecessary suffering to an animal”. He was handcuffed and taken to the police station at Bedlington, some miles away, where he was held for nine hours in the cells. Eventually he was interrogated for an hour by an RSPCA official, with a policeman standing mutely by, before being released.
Why was Mr Atthey arrested on the orders of the RSPCA? Why was he handcuffed, and imprisoned for nine hours? When I put this to Northumbria police, they replied that “the RSPCA is leading this investigation” and that “the arrested man remained with police until suitable arrangements were in place for an interview to take place”.
This provokes much wider questions, also raised by other cases reported in this column, such as that of Alan Brough, who was held by Carlisle police for six hours while the RSPCA took away his 90 fell ponies, and who immediately went and hanged himself.
The RSPCA, that once-admirable charity, now often seems to pursue animal-lovers through the courts simply to win the publicity that keeps its £115 million a year in donations rolling in. And why do the police now regard themselves as the charity’s enforcement wing? What an admission from Northumbria police that they seek to justify holding a 66-year old man of impeccable character for nine hours by saying “the RSPCA is leading this investigation”. When did Parliament empower RSPCA officials (all ordinary members of the public) to order our police around like this?


Make your own freedom of information request here;

Thursday, 19 August 2010


An activist for Red Squirrels has deliberately drowned a grey one to provoke reaction from the RSPCA. The activist, Norris Atthey of Morpeth Red Squirrels said he was defending the honour of fellow squirrel killer, Raymond Eliott who was last month prosecuted for 'causing unnecessary suffering to an animal'.

The Eastern Grey Squirrel which came over to the United Kingdom from America is causing numbers of native Red Squirrels to dramatically reduce.
The Eastern Grey Squirrel which came over to the United Kingdom from America is causing numbers of native Red Squirrels to dramatically reduce.
The two are said to be stern defenders of red squirrels, native to the UK whose numbers have dramatically fallen since the eastern grey squirrel was introduced. In order to conserve the remaining numbers of the red squirrel, the UK government in January 2006 announced a mass culling programme that was welcomed by conservation groups.
However Mr Atthey, a married grandfather of four, said that he was against the decision which saw Raymond Eliott fined £1,546 for killing 'non-native species' which have 'invaded' the country from other lands.
Mr Atthey believes the case will mark a precedent from which other cases could prosecute others trying to do what he believes is a 'humane way' of culling the animal after he drowned it in a bucket.
The former military policeman, believes that the drowning of the grey squirrel - which has come over from North America is 'best' done via drowning as 'of the 250 he has killed' this was 'the quickest method'.
"My interpretation of the law is that drowning a grey squirrel is legal as long as it is done swiftly and as part of pest control." he said.
The RSPCA have called the Police to investigate:
"Police were called to assist RSPCA officers at an address in Ulgham at around 10.45am yesterday. Officers arrested a 66-year-old man at the address for causing unnecessary suffering to an animal." said a Northumbrian police spokesman.
The case continues.

Friday, 13 August 2010


A wildlife campaigner drowned a grey squirrel - in a challenge to the RSPCA to bring charges against him.

Norris Atthey is founder of The Morpeth Red Squirrel action group - which has culled more than 500 grey squirrels in two years.
The 67-year-old was furious when Raymond Elliot was prosecuted by the RSPCA last month for causing unnecessary suffering to an animal after he drowned a squirrel in a water butt.Elliot, 58, admitted the charge and was given a conditional discharge and ordered to pay £1,547 costs at Burton Magistrates Court.

The matter is going to appeal.
Mr Atthey said he had killed the grey squirrel to show that drowning was a humane method of culling.
Mr Atthey, from Ulgham near Morpeth, Northumberland, said the death of the squirrel was over in seconds, quicker than his usual method of shooting them, and minimal distress was caused to the animal.
He said: 'I submerged this grey squirrel for a few seconds in the water and it was dead within 30 seconds.
'Of approximately 250 greys that I have killed, that has been the quickest method. Normally it can take one to three minutes.
'The usual method is shooting them. Ninety per cent have been one-off shots, but it is still possible you might miss or not kill it properly.
'Another method is to transfer a grey into a hessian sack and hit it with a club. I think that is an absolutely brutal method so I don't use it.'
Mr Atthey said he will wait to see if any legal action is taken against him before drowning another squirrel.
'This drowning was a one-off. I'm trying to prove a point. This is a test to the RSPCA, it is a challenge.
'I can demonstrate the trapping procedures if it goes to court. This was humane and this grey squirrel was not under stress. What I have done is better because it was quicker.
'I believe that under the Wild Mammals (Protection) Act drowning a grey squirrel is legal as long as it is done quickly as part of pest control.
'What I am doing is pest control.'
The RSPCA refused to comment on the incident due to the ongoing legal case in Burton.
A fact sheet on grey squirrels from the charity says killing them should only be considered as a last resort if there is a serious problem and alternative means of control are ineffective or impractical.
It warns that killing is unlikely to be a long-term solution and that it is an offence if any unnecessary suffering is caused to captured animals.

Natural England advises that grey squirrels can be run into a sack and killed by a sharp blow to the head, or shot in a cage, but trapped squirrels should not be drowned as it is inhumane.
Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, it is illegal to release grey squirrels or allow them to escape into the wild.
A Natural England spokesman said: 'The animal Welfare Act 2006 protects "animals under the control of man" and so squirrels in traps or cages would be covered.
'This Act prohibits causing unnecessary suffering to such animals.
'It would be for the courts to decide whether the method of killing, be it drowning or any other method, caused any suffering and if so this was unnecassry or not in any particular case brought before them.'



A dog owner has hit out at RSPCA staff who re-homed his pet because he could not pay a release fee within seven days.

When Martin Day, 36, a dad-of-one, of Sandy Croft, Ribbleton, Preston, lost his pet greyhound on June 29, he was relieved to hear it had been picked up by the RSPCA.
Lady the greyhound had vaulted his fence when spooked by fireworks let off during the World Cup.
But when he arrived to collect the dog, which he has had for six years, he was told he must pay a £97 release fee within seven days.
Martin, a store man at BAE Systems, in Warton, explained he would not be able to raise the cash until he had been paid, which would be after the seven-day limit.
He claims that on July 8 he arrived with the cash but was told the dog would not be released.
He said: “I said I would not be able to pay within seven days.
“I went down on the eighth day with the £97 and said ‘surely you can allow me to pay to get the dog back’ but they said ‘no.’
“I have been ringing every week asking to get her back.”
A spokesman for the RSPCA, said: “RSPCA Preston has a contract with the city council to take in stray dogs and care for them for seven days, after which time the council signs the ownership of them over to the RSPCA which, in this case, happened on July 7.
“Unfortunately the owner of the greyhound didn’t get in touch until 8th July, a day after she had been signed over to the RSPCA.
“And the contract with Preston City Council won’t allow the RSPCA to re-home the dog to the original owner. “Mr Day was advised to contact Preston City Council by staff at RSPCA Preston animal centre on many occasions to reach an agreement.”
A spokesman added the dog had been re-homed by staff at the centre on Monday.

Comments; springerwelfare

Friday, August 13, 2010 at 02:53 PM

Something doesn't add up with this story, if the RSPCA have a contract with the council then as per the law, dogs should be kept for a minimum of 7 days before the dog can be re-homed,many councils allow longer because often dogs are sent out side the area where they were found because of local shelters being full. Given how quickly the RSPCA re-homed the dog, they must have started the re-homing process before the minimum 7 days was up, that to me would indicate a disregard for the original owners rights. I would also challenge the councils assertion that dogs may not be re-home dogs to original owners, what if it were the case that the owner was unable to locate the shelter where the dog was being kept, working in rescue I come across this scenario all to often where dogs are moved out side the are where they were found, all the authorities are notoriously lax when it comes to keeping descriptions of lost dog on file when owners phone up, all too often the owner has described their dog only to be told it isn't there, only to turn up months late re-homed. Refusing to give the legal owner their property back after an arbitrary period clearly breaches the owners human rights. The RSPCA being the 'alleged' owner of the dog once the 7 days were up had it in their power to do the right thing, but as has happened all to often in the past, they have done as they have done as they please and covered their tracks. I would also question that the dog was re homed so quickly, the RSPCA through their own sales speak tell us how difficult it is to re home a dog in the present economic climate. Perhaps the reporter on this one should do a bit more investigative digging.

Monday, 9 August 2010




"The RSPCA is nothing other than the public face of the Animal Liberation Front.

Extremists with a public persona.
They intimidate and bully Fox hunters, people who wish to kill vermin on their own property , and say nothing about the widespread animal cruelty handed out by halal butchers day in day out.
Hypocrites? I'll say.
The RSPCA should have their powers culled and their Royal charter removed. They do not care for animals, they are control freak bullies.
Never give them a penny...there are many , good, worthwhile animal charities. Give to them freely. Give to charity, not bullies dressed up as one."

"The RSPCA was taken over by extremist animal welfare fanatics some years ago and has since lost all sense of its original purpose. It is now run by politically motivated people who gave £1M to Labour to pursue the hunting ban. Yet it makes no attempt campaign against Halal / Kosher slaughtering.

They are now using their powers to prosecute like a totalitarian organisation. What is more they are totally incompetent, as this sad story shows. Clearly their vet could not even recognise a common equine complaint, assuming they employed one.
Thank you Christopher Booker for reporting this Such events should lead to the removal of the RSPCA's Royal patronage. But of course it wont."

"Thank you Christopher Booker for again reporting news that is against the rspca, so many others seem scared to do so.

The case you cited this week is another example of the damage they do to people and animals using money donated by the public in stead of using that money for the welfare of animals.
I don;t think the general public is aware that the money donated does not go to the individual centres - they have to raise their own costs, all the donated money goes to the head office and is spent on court cases such as the two you have described.
They are not above public scrutiny and all their funds should be investigates and the organisation made to show where every penny goes - it is public money after all"

"The change being perceived in the way that the RSPCA operates - as an aggressive quasi state agency against individuals rather than as a benign charity is indicative of the wider insidious diminishing of the citizen as the state takes over every minute aspect of our waking lives. We are being increasingly managed and controlled. Why? Because they need this in place for when they can no longer keep all the balls in the air as to the illusion that all is well in developed western economies. Authority has set out to forestall anarchy"

"The current state of the RSPCA, (i.e. completely out of control,) is what happens when political policy is dictated not by common sense and simple decency, but by an unrepresentative pressure group and over financed lobbying operation, driven by, empire building management , financial self-interest and sustained by the cheap exploitation of sentimentality.

Where will it end, suing people who use antibiotics because the pathogenic bacteria are living things all well with a right to life and that experience pain or some analogue of it as well.
At least the Animal Liberation Front people were blatant and obvious loonies and you could see them coming.
Nowadays the same people knock on your front door with a warrant and cart your goldfish away into protective custody."

"I stopped giving to the RSPCA a couple of years ago when it became obvious that their political policies and political correctness became more important to them than the animals"

"I think that we all need to thank Booker for being brave enough to cover this very sad story - nothing can give this poor man his health back, but "something needs to be done" to prevent this from happening again and again. The many experiences of other innocent animal owners, must not be repeated. There are obviously strong parallels between this story and the experience of Martin and Gina Griffin, who also experienced an RSPCA vet who would not listen to what their own treating vet, Charlotte Mayers, told them. It is time for the British Equine Veterinary Association to repeat the warnings that it gave about seizing animals following RSPCA v Humphries and which were repeated after RSPCA v Ashraf."

"Is there not some charge that can be levied against organisations like the RSPCA that so abuse their power? I know false imprisonment / false arrest is one such, but surely there is some form of redress in law for those unjustly accused by such organisations?

If not, then the law must be rebalanced"


Thursday, 5 August 2010


A HORSE breeder on Anglesey endured a three-year ordeal after being accused of neglecting his animals in an RSPCA prosecution.
Michael O’Neill, of Rainbow Farm, Pentraeth, had his good reputation for breeding horses damaged after he was accused of neglecting two horses back in 2007.
The drawn out legal process was further delayed in March 2009 when he collapsed during his trial in Holyhead Magistrates Court with a stroke.
Doctors wanted the case withdrawn but Mr O’Neill, who is in his 50s, was desperate to clear his name.
Last week Mr O’Neill was cleared of all the charges at Caernarfon Magistrates Court and told his reputation as a breeder was “untarnished”.
Zoe McKenna, of Rhoscefnhir, who was accused alongside him, has also had charges against her dropped.
Mr O’Neill said: “It has been very hard on me, it has been a terrible thing to go through.”
His solicitor Gareth Parry said: “This has hung over my client for three years. The judge has cleared him of all charges and told him his reputation is completely untarnished. This threatened his entire livelihood as a horse breeder, he risked bankruptcy to fight this.
“His legal costs will now be paid from the courts.”
Mr O’Neill, who is originally from Ireland, is the fifth generation of horse breeders in his family and had an excellent reputation.
In August 2007 he spent around £10,000 to buy two horses from Ireland.
They developed a bacterial infection called strangles, which causes lymph nodes around the throat to swell, forming abscesses. It also causes a loss of appetite.
Treatment of the infection is difficult but Mr O’Neill arranged care and veterinary attention.
In September he was required to return to Ireland several times as his daughter was seriously ill.
While away he arranged for Ms McKenna to keep an eye on the horses, which she did.
But when they were seen in a field near Rhostrehwfa in a poorly condition it was reported to the RSPCA, who investigated.
They believed that the collars on the horses were causing the sores and O’Neill and McKenna were accused of causing unnecessary suffering to the two horses.
Ms McKenna saw the charges dropped earlier this year.
In a statement through his solicitor, Mr O’Neill said: “I am relieved that my reputation remains untarnished and grateful for the support of my family, friends, and legal team.”
Friend Sue Rimmer said justice had been done.
He said: “We knew all along that he had not neglected his horses. Mr O’Neill was determined to clear his name and now he has. He would never mistreat any animal.”

Will the RSPCA try to justify completely ignoring the evidence from the treating vet it, on the same basis as, they did in RSPCA v Griffin case?

In Norwich in January, Judge Philip Browning was critical of the RSPCA's conduct in seizing a much-loved pony, Florry, which had been with Martin and Gina Griffin's family for 20 years. The RSPCA held Florry in an animal sanctuary for over a year, claiming that she was "emaciated". The Griffins' vet, Charlotte Mayers, made it clear from the start that vets from her practice were treating the horse, which was laminitic and needed to be kept thin for that reason. Colin Vogel, the author of the RSPCA's own veterinaray manual on horse-care supported her views. At one point the RSPCA had wanted to put Florry down, but after 15 months she was finally re-united with her owners.

Sunday, 1 August 2010


Several times in recent years I have reported on the change which has come over one of Britain’s richest charities, the RSPCA. Its officials too often seem bent on harrying genuine animal lovers, luridly misrepresenting alleged cases of cruelty in order to win the publicity which will keep funds rolling in, to the tune of some £115 million a year. Eleven days ago, at the instigation of the RSPCA, Mr Brough was arrested at 8.30am and held in custody at Carlisle police station while officials of the charity put the ponies onto lorries bound for RSPCA-approved sanctuaries. When Mr Brough was released at 3pm and discovered what had happened, he was, according to his family, “trance-like”. He drove to a nearby church, then to a riverbank, where some time later his 18-year-old grand-daughter found him. He had hanged himself.

I read with sadness this item about dear Mr Brough. My husband and I have also been persecuted by the RSPCA and as a result over the past few years my husband has suffered from a series of small strokes, these only being picked up on when he was admitted to hospital this year. The doctors reckon it was the stress and strain of the constant persecution from these people that triggered the first one some 6 years ago. We have neighbours who are behind all these problems but we wont move, why should we. I fear for my husbands and my own mental and physical health if we come across these people again. They say they have the animals interests at heart, this couldnt be further from the truth, they are only interested in lining their own pockets. The sooner there is an investigation into the running of this so called animal charity the better. They are a disgrace to any charity looking to help genuine animals and their owners in distress. And the sooner the great British public wake up and see them for what they really are, the better.
My condolences to the Brough family.
Perhaps their action against the RSPCA will return some form of restraint and commonsense to a once-fine organisation that now seems to have lost sight of its mission.
It's maybe twenty years since I decided that I'd never give another penny to the RSPCA, for just this kind of reason. I can't now recall the precise details of the crazy case which led me to that decision, but even then they were showing clear signs of being controlled by extremists drunk with their own power. I won't willingly maintain or increase their power by giving them money.
A good man is dead due to the heavy-handed actions of this ex-animal welfare organisation and all that some people here can think of is having a dig at Mr.Booker?

Here is a description of the RSPCA today.
"Members of the Inspectorate wear uniforms which make them as much like police officers as the law will allow. They are not. The LOWEST "rank" in the Inspectorate is Inspector (apart from Trainee Inspectors). Above that they have "Chief Inspectors", "Superintendent", ’ and "Chief Superintendents". None of these ranks are officers of the Crown, and have no legal significance whatsoever. They are designed to impress the public.