Thursday, 26 April 2012



A WOMAN who is accused of mistreating her 10 dogs could see the trial against her collapse because of concerns the animals were not seized lawfully.

Officers took the dogs from Charlotte Faulkner’s home in College Road, Hebburn, after RSPCA inspectors feared they were starving.
They were handed over to a vet who confirmed they were in poor condition and suffering from malnutrition, and ordered them to be transferred to the RSPCA’s care.
Faulkner, 47, denies four charges of animal cruelty.
But yesterday, during the second day of a trial at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court, District Judge Roger Elsey threw the case into doubt.
The court had heard that police seized the dogs, which included adult and puppy King Charles spaniels, German shepherds, an Afghan hound and Pyrenean mountain dogs, using Section 19 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (Pace).
But the section says the dogs could only have been seized by police if they were already evidence in the case – and District Judge Elsey is concerned they might not have been until they were seen by the vet.
He said: “If the vet had examined the dogs at the house, there would be no issue about the lawfulness of the seizure.
“If there had have been a warrant to enter the house, it would also be a different matter.
“Miss Faulkner may have invited the police in, but they did not say they were there to seize the dogs, even though that was the intention.”
District Judge Elsey has now adjourned the case until May 18.
He has asked RSPCA prosecutor Alison Howie and Nigel Weller, defending, to submit their arguments for and against the case progressing before then.
He added: “If the rights of the individual and their property are going to be interfered with, it has to be in accordance with the law.
“And it may be the reality, in this case, that it unfortunately wasn’t.”
Previously, the court had heard from vet Honor Etherington that she classed all but one of the dogs to be very or severely malnourished after inspecting them.
Faulkner, who now lives in Edward Street, Craghead, County Durham, denies mistreating the animals.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012



We pledge to end the overpopulation of companion animals and tackle the related issues.

Monday, 2 April 2012


The RSPCA is one of Britain's richest charities. High profile animal welfare work by its uniformed inspectors ensures that it has a steady stream of income from donations and legacies.
Half of the £70 million it spent last year was on the 328-strong inspectorate and on prosecutions. But it is the way that money is spent elsewhere that has raised concerns.
The society has new headquarters near Horsham, West Sussex, and trustees complain of the mountains of paperwork produced by their bureaucracy.
Campaigns, including the drive against hunting, cost the charity £4,415,000 last year. Freedom Food cost £1,632,000 in direct grant aid, even though trustees have been repeatedly assured that it would be self-funding.
A council member said: "The problem is that the society has never had to worry about making money so hasn't had to worry about economising.
However, an RSPCA spokesman said people could not be put in low-quality hotels and expected to do a good job. "There's a balance to be struck between looking after yourself and extravagance and I think we strike that well," he said.
The fact that the society directorate believes that more than £2 million can be saved from "efficiencies" suggests that those who work there are aware of slack that can be cut out of the system.
There has been criticism of the society's new £16 million headquarters, built to replace its old HQ in central Horsham.
The society says it was needed for the extra room. It could not have been built in a cheaper part of the country because many staff would have refused to move, leading to high redundancy and recruitment costs.
The council member, who asked not to be named because the society's "protocols of confidentiality" prevent councillors from talking to the press, said staff were already complaining about the new building.
The open plan offices were noisy and some employees were unhappy with the distance from the town centre. This concern may rise with the news that the lunchtime minibus into town is one of the potential cuts.
The council member said: "The society sold its old headquarters in the centre of Horsham for £5.2 million and has spent £16 million on a shed. We didn't need it.
"The amount of staff we have is ridiculous. It's because they like to run it on a military basis with chains of command. You could take three layers out of the bureaucracy and it would still work."
Eyebrows were raised when the society donated £80,000 to a charity chaired by Peter Davies, the director-general, which is building a memorial to animals in war. Money was also donated by WISPA, an international charity supported by the RSPCA.
The decision to give the money was backed by the Charity Commission and, the society says, on the condition that the memorial "promoted kindness towards animals and discouraged ill treatment".
The RSPCA is appealing for a similar amount to save the Llys Nini animal centre which opened near Swansea in 1997. Local members claim the case is indicative of the way the society uses money.
The local branch, which raised more than a million pounds to build the centre, accused the national society of forcing them to build something more extravagant than was necessary.
They say that the £95,000 needed by September to keep the £1.3 million centre open would still be available if a more appropriate and cost-effective centre had been built, using local architects and cutting down on the administrative space that the headquarters demanded.
The RSPCA counters that the centre was built to the society's "national standard" using a "tried and tested approach" but the result was that it lost the support of some of the local fund-raisers now needed to keep the centre open.
It is uncertain whether the money will be raised in time.
Members who criticise the society's activities claim to have been ostracised. Paranoia and an obsession with secrecy afflict both the organisation and its critics. Private detectives have even been used to investigate the society's opponents.
Last year, the society spent £40,000 pursuing an inquiry into the activities of David Mawson, a vegetarian chef and member of the council. The cost of the failed attempt to suspend him from the council is reported to have included £3,560 to track his e-mails.
There was also anger earlier this year when The Telegraph disclosed that the society was planning to spend tens of thousands of pounds on an investigation into which member of its council spoke to the BBC.
The investigation, which some sources suggest cost as much as £80,000, culminated in a 120-page deposition delivered to the Broadcasting Standards Commission last week disputing claims made about Freedom Food in an edition of the Watchdog programme. The BSC has not yet published a ruling. The RSPCA defended the expenditure, which it claimed was much less than reported, because it was "under attack" and had to defend itself.
A spokesman said: "The programme could have done us a lot of damage. If our fund-raising capabilities are threatened we will defend ourselves again and again." The society spent £4.2 million on campaigning last year, including taking out full-page advertisements about hunting in national newspapers.
Owen Perks, who was a council member and treasurer of the society, resigned last year and returned his Queen Victoria Medal in protest at the way he believed the hierarchy had lost touch with supporters.
"I believe the RSPCA should be doing the job it was set up to do and that's preventing cruelty to animals," he said. "It's become a campaigning body." Fears over repercussions mean that many critics within the organisation are willing to speak only anonymously. When they do, what they say reflects a desire from both the pro-hunting and animal rights wings of the society to refocus the charity on animal welfare.
There even appears to be an opportunity to find common ground between the two sides of the hunting debate, though both say that the RSPCA gives no effective forum for it to be found. One critic from the Left of the society said: "There's no open debate whatsoever.
"You've got to have members who agree with the objects but they don't have to agree with the policies. The objects are to promote kindness and prevent cruelty to animals. There are more important issues in animal welfare than hunting."