Friday, 12 October 2012


Some moron from the R.S.P.C.A. tries to make a name for himself
Inspector Graham Hammond

whataboutthat says...
8:59am Tue 9 Oct 12
I can't believe this. This misguided woman makes a mistake and the animal police prosecute her. Two years conditional discharge - what a travesty. Why did the magistrates not simply throw this one out?
Shame on the RSPCA for wasting my money on the courts' time and for needlessly persecuting this woman. Inspector Hammond - makes him sound right good and proper!

muscliffman says...
9:09am Tue 9 Oct 12
There was absolutely no ill intent so why prosecute?
Making a mistake is not a criminal offence and I am sure the loss of the poor cat through your own stupidity is a big enough price to pay.
Unless something is not being told here it may be time to reconsider my regular RSPCA donation, this is not what I intended it to be used for.

 Bohochic72 says...
9:16am Tue 9 Oct 12
Why prosecute when, as it was reported, there was no cruelty intended? There are so many mistreated animals out there whose owners get off - chase them rather than someone who tried to help an injured pet and made a mistake. Obviously she was an easy target to keep the conviction figures up.
@muscliffman - I make my donation to PDSA as more of it goes to actual pet care.

 a.g.o.g. says...
9:16am Tue 9 Oct 12
whataboutthat wrote:
I can't believe this. This misguided woman makes a mistake and the animal police prosecute her. Two years conditional discharge - what a travesty. Why did the magistrates not simply throw this one out? Shame on the RSPCA for wasting my money on the courts' time and for needlessly persecuting this woman. Inspector Hammond - makes him sound right good and proper!
Jobsworths! Did they also perform a post mortem to be sure that it was the paracetamol that caused the cats death and not trauma caused by whatever had happened to cause it to limp? Many cats by instinct manage to run from a car collision to then die later in solitude.
Whatever, well intended actions to reduce any animals agonies or ills do not deserve this kind of Pantomime performance.

 Jim_Springbourne says...
9:20am Tue 9 Oct 12
I am a cat lover and cannot agree with this prosecution.
The poor lady accidentally killed her cat through ignorance and will have suffered enough grief - I know if I did such a thing, I would not be able to forgive myself. Why compound things with a needless, pointless prosecution that was not in the public interest. She should have been given an absolute discharge, and the RSPCA a rocket for bringing the case in the first place.

  afcb-mark says...
9:20am Tue 9 Oct 12
I actually feel quite sorry for her. She didn't intentionally poison the cat rather thought she was helping it. A bit silly but not malicious. What next, lock someone up who gives a dog chocolate as that is poisonous to dogs and could kill them, but how many people know that.

 Your reporter in spain says...
9:25am Tue 9 Oct 12
Ridiculous ,we can all make mistakes even when trying to do the best for our animals - that prosecution was completely unnecessary
With the cost of vets being so high it's hardly surprising people will try their own remedy

  rayc says...
9:29am Tue 9 Oct 12
Typical of the UK. Graham Hammond should take a long hard look at himself and ponder on why he is so malicious.

 Morrigan says...
9:31am Tue 9 Oct 12
As a cat owner, I am fully aware of the dangers of paracetamol - but I would bet most people are not.

There may be more to this story than is printed here, but as it stands I would definitely say the RSPCA should not have taken this to court. It does not appear to have been done with intent to harm the cat and I expect the poor woman has been through enough knowing she caused the death of her own cat.

People who deliberately hurt animals and mistreat them get off more lightly than this lady. What a waste of time and money - the RSPCA being "holier-than-thou" big time ........ but when I called them a couple of years ago after I found an abandoned pet rabbit they refused to help in any way and I had to take it to the PDSA, who kindly took it in.

The RSPCA should have taken the case as a unfortunate incident and used it to educate people - not prosecute them.

 Buddles says...
9:31am Tue 9 Oct 12
I agree with all of you.
On the outside it looks like "death by misadventure" to use a human inquest term.
Unless there is something we haven't been told this is just a tragic outcome. As an ex vet nurse it was quite common for cat owners to ask if paracetamol was OK for cats....the answer was always an emphatic "no" due to its toxicity in cats.
Yes a quick phone call or a trip to the PDSA would have prevented this but involving the RSPCA as a case of deliberate suffering, I fail to see this unless we haven't been told the full story.

 rayc says...
9:34am Tue 9 Oct 12
I wonder if she had not "admitted causing unnecessary suffering and failure to protect the cat from suffering" and instead pleaded Not Guilty what the outcome would have been. Even if the Magistrate had found her guilty I wonder if on appeal whether a higher court, presided over by a judge, would have done so?

 sussexcherry says...
9:44am Tue 9 Oct 12
Misguided yes, deliberate no. The lady concerned must be devastated at losing her cat, when all she was trying to do was to help it, and it goes without saying that the poor cat must have suffered terribly. This lady is only 43, she is not a 'doddering old dear' as the phrase goes, so she should have been more responsible and as Buddles says above, at least made a quick phone call to a vet. Personally, I can't stand cats, but if this highlights the dangers of Paracetomol to them then it is a good outcome,and maybe will stop it occuring again. I agree with other posters the the sentence is disproportionate.
summerchild says...
10:06am Tue 9 Oct 12
The PDSA will only help if you're on benefits so if she wasn't they would have been no use at all.
I stopped supporting the RSPCA years ago after reading about a pensioner who was prosecuted for his dog being too fat !!! Seems at times, that the RSPCA is only after prosecuting the easy options, shame on you Graham Hammond and shame on the RSPCA.

Dog friendly 1 says...
11:45am Tue 9 Oct 12
I agree that the sentence handed out was rather heavy handed compared to other wilful cruelty cases we read about in the Echo.
I also agree that the lady should have known better than to feed her cat (or any animal) human medicine BUT there are lots of people who still think its ok to give their cat/dog whatever animal human medicine to take the pressure off high vet bills.
Do also be aware that unless they have changed their policy, the RSPCA no longer take in unwanted or stray dogs, ONLY cruelty cases. If you leave your dog with them or hand in a stray (thats if they accept it), I believe they now have a policy to PTS the animal. I stopped supporting them years ago. Stick to your local rescue centres or PDSA centre or Blue Cross centre. Sadly I think the RSPCA have got "too big for their boots" and the compassion for animal welfare is now not at the top of their agenda as it used to be; they appear to be too corporate now.

 elite50 says...
11:49am Tue 9 Oct 12
The hatred and vitriol being aimed at this woman by the lunatic fringe is quite frankly unbelievable!
Look at the facts.
She tried to do the right thing by the cat.
She made a mistake.
Some moron from the R.S.P.C.A. tries to make a name for himself .
The woman gets convicted.
She should have let the thing just die.
Some of you people need a reality check.
This story is about a sick CAT.
The woman was pretty naive, just about eveyone knows that if you want to kill the pesky cat from next door you just put 2 aspirin in a bowl of milk.
She knows now.

 BROCKSDAD says...
11:54am Tue 9 Oct 12
Another easy target for the rspca, you would think with the £13 million they get every year they could do more to support people and their pets rather than prosecute.

 sername is already in use says...
12:14pm Tue 9 Oct 12
What a disgraceful decision by the RSPCA, I wont be giving them any of my hard earned again.
leagalbrief says...
12:44pm Tue 9 Oct 12
The RSPCA are a farce of a charity anybody supporting this cause beware, many times i have heard the same old story of animals in need of rescue being turned away at their hard hearted door, they are very very choosey, many a smaller amimal rescue picks up the peices, they are self serving and have their own interests at heart not the animals they suppose to support. this prosection is a disgrace and a farce, there are plenty of wilful cruelty to animals they turn a blind eye to, RSPCA hang your sorry heads in shame you are no better than scum.

 live-and-let-live says...
12:48pm Tue 9 Oct 12
a disgusting travesty. this woman was trying her best. she did nothing malicious. i hope she reads these comments and realises we are on her side.

 Bathsheba says...
12:56pm Tue 9 Oct 12
Nothing like an animal story to split the pack. I'm also disgusted that the RSPCA chose to pursue this easy target whilst they don't bother with the hard stuff. They're rolling in money but you try to get them to help you when you have a problem. The PDSA is also quoted but as someone has said the PDSA only helps those on benefits, it's not some animal angel service. It's those who struggle on without state support that need financial help from massive vets fees. I feel sorry for the woman.

 Matthew_Y says...
1:11pm Tue 9 Oct 12
I am incensed by the RSPCA’s conduct in this matter; Educate the lady – Yes, but prosecute NO! Go after those that maliciously mistreat animals instead. Still, I’ve learned a very valuable lesson here, and I urge other readers to follow suit. Don’t give your charitable donations to the RSPCA to squander, give them to PDSA instead.
Pablo23 says...
1:14pm Tue 9 Oct 12
I suspect the driving force behind taking her to court was to get the case as much publicity as possible, therefore making others aware of the dangers of giving human drugs to animals, and the correct facilities available.

I didn't know paracetamol was poisonous to cats, so I for one learnt something.
Not that I would have risked given one to a cat anyway to be fair but still.

 KLH says...
1:19pm Tue 9 Oct 12
I stopped donating years ago. And I told an RSPCA chugger in the Square exactly what I thought of them when I saw him charging towards me, board in hand licking his chops....

Wasn't expecting that matey boy were you. Won't give them a penny, I would contact any organisation about a sick animal but them.

DAISY3073 says...
2:22pm Tue 9 Oct 12
To all the people saying she should have known better, my dogs have recently had kennel cough and the vet's advice was to give them a children's version of Benalyn twice a day to ease the symptoms. When they told me that I was stunned as didn't realise you could give animals human medicine so it's clearly not a well known fact that cats can't have paracetamol products.

The woman shouldn't have been prosecuted, yes she needs educating about this but then obviously so do a lot of people, and yes she should have taken the cat to the vets. I expect the fact that she accidentally killed her poor cat is punishment enough.

 Maisie says...
2:22pm Tue 9 Oct 12
How ironic that minutes after I read this article a chap collecting on behalf of the RSPCA knocked on my door telling me my "neighbours" were helping and could he count on my support. I told him I'd just read this article, disagreed with what they had done and for that reason I wouldn't be pledging any money to them.

  H2o-hara says...
2:25pm Tue 9 Oct 12
whataboutthat wrote:
I can't believe this. This misguided woman makes a mistake and the animal police prosecute her. Two years conditional discharge - what a travesty. Why did the magistrates not simply throw this one out?
Shame on the RSPCA for wasting my money on the courts' time and for needlessly persecuting this woman. Inspector Hammond - makes him sound right good and proper!
I agree when you consider those idiots who take their dogs for a walk on cliff edges seem to expect sympathy.

FrDarryl says...
3:47pm Tue 9 Oct 12
Two years for the accidental death of a pet by compassionately administering a rationally reduced dosage (NHS: 120mg can be administered to some infants aged 6-24 months) of an over-the-counter analgesic.

Yet how much time do people get trying to kill a police officer with a truck or a knife?

I must be delirious because I just don't get it. A quick look online indicates haloperidol is sometimes indicated.

Arjay says...
5:27pm Tue 9 Oct 12
I have the impression this might cost the RSPCA dearly.
Clearly a case for advice and education, rather than for prosecution?
Antagonising potential donors by forcing through this prosecution is no way to help raise the profile of the RSPCA.....

One is inclined to say to Inspector Hammond, using the immortal words of Captain Mainwaring:
'You STUPID boy'......

 Adrian XX says...
5:37pm Tue 9 Oct 12
This case is a warning to other people

This is indeed a warning to other people: NEVER EVER CALL OR INVOLVE THE RSPCA IN ANYTHING.
They are a lunatic-fringe charity who would like the world to be vegan. They were set up to prevent cruelty but they interfere in cases where there is clearly no cruelty involved. They were even once interested in prosecuting a case of someone eating a fish alive (instead of just letting it die slowly in the air first then eating it). This just goes to show how crazy they are.

The woman should have sought good legal advice: there has to be proof that the animal suffered and didn't simply die in a stupor.

 dvdr says...
5:47pm Tue 9 Oct 12
I don't like cats, but I have every sympathy for this lady who thought she was doing her best for her pet. Yes, she got it wrong - but lost her pet as a result! To prosecute her for doing what she thought was best is deeply unkind. We don't know how much she could afford for professional treatment, but a fully formed prosecution for her best efforts does seem entirely wrong. Down with the RSPCA for unfeeling Nazism!
As said, I don't like cats, but I do sympathise with someone trying, with perhaps limited resources, to help her pet. Good for her! Bad for the RSPCA!

     Adrian XX wrote:
This case is a warning to other people

This is indeed a warning to other people: NEVER EVER CALL OR INVOLVE THE RSPCA IN ANYTHING.
They are a lunatic-fringe charity who would like the world to be vegan. They were set up to prevent cruelty but they interfere in cases where there is clearly no cruelty involved. They were even once interested in prosecuting a case of someone eating a fish alive (instead of just letting it die slowly in the air first then eating it). This just goes to show how crazy they are.

The woman should have sought good legal advice: there has to be proof that the animal suffered and didn't simply die in a stupor.
Yeah the cat probably didnt even suffer much ..... check out the symptoms, sounds like a right laugh -
oneshortleg says...
7:38pm Tue 9 Oct 12
Think this is a massive PR mistake, like so many other companies and organisations who take things a bit too far to prove themselves. I do a lot of charity work but have always made a conscious effort to support local smaller charities as they have less money and therefore are less likely to spend in frivolously. Oxfam once had to radically change things as it was reported it spent a huge amount of each pound on admin!

ScoobyVic says...
10:15pm Tue 9 Oct 12
She was stupid in not contacting the vets but if she thought that paracetamol might help and didn't know it would harm her cat then she wasn't maliciously doing it. When I watch the American ASPCA programmes if they have anyone deliberately neglecting animals ie starving, fighting etc then they prosecute but if they think someone has made a genuine mistake through not knowing and didn't deliberately do it then they try and re educate rather than prosecuting.
I as a cat owner do know that paracetamol is deadly the same as lily pollen but I don't assume everyone knows this, she must be devastated.
And to be labelled as a cat killer on the echo website and in the paper will take a long time to go away.

 Capricorn 1 says...
10:15pm Tue 9 Oct 12
If people got fined for stupidity, hands up who would never have been fined in their life.

To prosecute this woman is adding insult to injury, and the RSPCA has shot itself in the foot.
Are there any more metaphors that I can mix?

 ScoobyVic says...
10:36pm Tue 9 Oct 12
Also having worked in the pet trade for quite a number of years and keeping various different pets I myself have seen first hand that the RSPCA think they are God of the animal world.
You have to bow down to them almost even if they are wrong otherwise they'll take your animals just because they can.
I can't help wondering if she hadn't told them she had given her cat paracetamol if this would even have happened? Have they actually done an autopsy that really said Midnight died from poisoning?
She was stupid for doin it and I certainly don't condone it but think she has paid a heavy price for a mistake.

elfinia says...
2:31pm Wed 10 Oct 12
Ignorant woman made a mistake.

She lost her beloved cat and then is prosecuted.

A disgraceful waste of public money and a shocking, pompous lack of common sense from the RSPCA. Why don't they pay for a poster scheme to inform the public NOT to use human medicine on animals.

 elfinia says...
2:42pm Wed 10 Oct 12
I took my cat to the ( private) vet not realising that he had terminal cancer and thinking that I would be bringing him home that evening after treatment.
I phoned up and they gave me the sad news ( we had had him for 15 years ) and strongly suggested he were euthanised. I asked them to wait until my son ( a teenager at that time ) was back from college so he could "say goodbye" as he adored the cat......they were really unhelpful , saying the cat would suffer ( although the cat had not shown signs of "suffering" and it would just be a few hours).

I was surprised that I was made to feel "bad" about suggesting such a thing. In the event my cat was kept until we got there.

Why was such an autocratic fuss made ?

 mummy123abc says...
7:00pm Wed 10 Oct 12
it says..

She gave the cat a quarter of a 500mg tablet followed by a second quarter the following morning.

The cat later collapsed and a family member called the RSPCA asking for help.
She was put on a saline drip to combat dehydration and boost her energy levels but died from organ failure.

so obviously and firstly, they meant no harm, hence them calling for help. The cat was put onto a drip to help but it failed, by the time she found out she was harming her animal rather than helping it, it was already too late.

Obviously if she thought her ct had been hit by a car she should have sought out a vet, but to be honest I grew up with loads of cats and sometimes they get bumps from cars which are so minor they end up with a few scratches and other than that are fine. If her cat looked well and was eating/acting normal apart from the limp perhaps she wanted to sub the pain until morning to go to a vet???

I think people are being too judgemental and unfair in this case and she should never have been charged at all! Especially when there are people out there purposely poisoning cats out of bitterness!!



THE WOMAN who accidentally killed her cat after giving the animal paracetamol has accused the RSPCA of persecuting her.
Grandmother Claire Pritchard from Mandale Road, West Howe, said: "I think generally the RSPCA do a great job but they will persecute and harass you if they think you have done wrong.
"I couldn't believe they prosecuted me. When their guy came to take a statement from me I was shocked at the way he spoke to me."
Mrs Pritchard, 43, said she had given her cats tiny pieces of paracetamol in the past and it had helped.
She claimed that Midnight may have died from an undiagnosed abscess rather than a drugs overdose.
She said: "Midnight had a limp. She must have jumped off something and hurt herself so I gave her just one quarter of paracetamol in the morning and she seemed to improve.
"Then my daughter called the RSPCA because Midnight wasn't any better and they took her away. I told them what I had done and they said I had poisoned her.
"Later they phoned me up and asked for my permission to put her down. I asked them if there was anything they could do and they said no.
"I have had pets since I was a child and know how to look after them. I have been giving cats a little bit of paracetamol for years without any problems.
"The RSPCA have visited me twice since the court case to check my other animals.
"Midnight was three years old and I had her since she was little. She was one my cat's babies."
Mrs Pritchard has two other cats called Maisie Moo-Moo and Sidilicious and dog called Barney Boo.
The RSPCA has defended its decision to prosecute, saying the case was a warning to other people.
Inspector Graham Hammond said: “She had the use of the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals which is a free service but chose not to use it.“This cat needlessly died because she administered a substance that is poisonous to cats.”
He has urged anyone who suspects their animal has suffered an injury to seek the attention of a vet.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012



Last night I attended a “Beer and Curry Night” hosted by the RSPCA (and funded by an anonymous sponsor). There I and other attendees got to tuck in to a delicious curry (chicken, not cat!) Whilst listening to Mr Grant, Mary Creagh (shadow secretary for the environment and rural affairs) and Richard Howitt (MEP for the east of England).
Gavin Grant was brilliant. Utterly unapologetic in his passion for animal welfare and profoundly thankful to Labour for the last government’s progress on the matter — not least of which the fox hunting ban, something which we should all be proud of. He also told some interesting takes, such as that the RSPCA was formed in 1824 on the second attempt, with thanks to William Wilberforce — making it an older law enforcement body than the police.
He also told is that the RSPCA’s prosecution success rate is 98%, compared to the CPS’s 3 in 4.
Mary Creagh focused more on the upcoming badger cull, a path that the government is pursuing
against scientific and economic common sense. The cull, she said, will increase the spread of TB because it will displace badgers and cause them to move around, infecting more cattle.

Beer and curry night, the RSPCA's perennially popular fringe event, is in the Midland Hotel at 8pm. But is it more popular that Owen Jones?


THE NFU is calling for a ‘full and frank’ investigation into an incident at Ramsgate port during which more than 40 sheep were shot and two drowned.
New Farming Minister David Heath has ordered an inquiry into the incident, which resulted in the suspension of live exports from the Kent port.
Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA) and RSPCA inspectors made the decision to shoot sheep at the Kent port after vets examining 500 sheep on board a lorry on September 12 and found some were unfit to travel.
However, the operation appeared to go badly wrong as the sheep were moved into an area used for washing vehicles, due to the lack due to the lack of holding facilities at the port. In the process the sheep moved what the RSPCA described as a ‘loose cover’ causing some sheep to fall into an underground tank. Despite a rescue operation that saved four sheep, two drowned in the incident.
In all, 46 sheep died as two suffered broken legs and a further 42 were shot on the advice of a vet because they were lame.
The NFU said it has a number of concerns about how the incident was handled and wants these to be fully investigated during the inquiry.
“The NFU has called for a full and frank investigation into the incidents that led to the closure of Ramsgate port,” Mr Garbutt said.
“Concerns have been raised with us as to why contingency plans to deal with such events do not appear to have been followed by the bodies overseeing the trade and with the pressure that was placed on government officials to sanction the slaughter of these animals at the port by the RSPCA when more humane alternatives may have been available.”
The RSPCA denied there had been any pressure put on the vets to sanction the slaughter of the sheep.
RSPCA staff officer Dermot Murphy said the decision was taken to kill the animals at the port, rather than take them to a nearby abattoir, on the basis of veterinary advice that they were ‘not in a fit state to be transported’. “After receiving the veterinary advice, the only option was to remove them from the lorry at the port,” he said.

He said the animals were shot by RSPCA officers ‘trained in the humane euthanasia of animals’ and that the officers were unaware of the hole in the washing area.
“The RSPCA had recently sent a report to Thanet District Council stating that Ramsgate port did not have the necessary facilities to satisfy the welfare needs of the animals,” Mr Murphy said.
AHVLA said it was ‘working with other parties involved to review what happened’ at Ramsgate and will comment on its conclusions when it is completed, which expected to be mid-October.
Live exports briefly resumed from Ipswich after the trade was suspended at Ramsgate but on Friday the RSPCA announced the trade had been suspended, after the port owners, Associated British Ports (ABP), acknowledged that it also lacked suitable facilities for the handling of animals should emergencies arise
Mr Garbutt said exporting live animals is a legal trade but insisted the health and welfare of the animals through transit is the ‘top priority of farmers’.
He said anyone transporting animals has a duty to use the shortest route to reach their destination and said the NFU have made it clear that the port of Dover would be the most suitable location on this basis.
“But as the boat being used is unable to dock there currently, Ramsgate is the next best option available,” he said.

The inspections resulted in two hauliers being issued with RSPCA warning notices – one for having broken ventilation fans and another for mixing sheep, some with horns, from different flocks in the same lorry. Animal Health also issued similar notices.

RSPCA inspectors issued the notices because of concerns for potential suffering, although the attending vet was satisfied the animals were fit to travel.

Emphasising the zero tolerance message, Mr Murphy said: "We have made it clear that if there are breaches of the rules we will take action."



The RSCPA could be veering towards animal rights rather than welfare, writes Ian Johnson, NFU South West spokesman...
‘Respice Misericordiam’ (‘shows mercy’). It’s the RSPCA’s motto and sits beneath the society’s coat of arms, which includes a cockerel (representing farm animals).
  1. The controversial pilot badger culls planned for Somerset and Gloucestershire have prompted passionate opposition
    The controversial pilot badger culls planned for Somerset and Gloucestershire have prompted passionate opposition
In its merchandising ‘blurb’ offering supporters the chance to buy a mug sporting the crest, the society explains that a portcullis on the shield symbolises parliament, “through the ‘constant and effective’ lobbying of which”, it adds, “the RSPCA has helped introduce most of the significant animal welfare legislation over the last 170 years”.
“The golden drops (underneath the portcullis) represent the mercy and also the money which our generous supporters give to enable us to carry on our work”.
The society’s mission statement is: “The RSPCA as a charity will, by all lawful means, prevent cruelty, promote kindness to and alleviate suffering of all animals.”
And therein lies my dilemma – is the RSPCA, an undoubtedly highly effective and much cherished animal welfare organisation, being positioned to take a rather more radical road – a direction of travel veering away from animal welfare towards animal rights?
The distinction may be subtle, but it is highly significant.
You see, nobody from HRH the Queen, the RSPCA’s patron, right down to yours truly, who has had a unique insight into the society’s workings via a short stint as head of its press office, would argue with many of its impeccable achievements and objectives in combating cruelty.
But, and it’s a big one, there is currently an apparent disconnect between this laudable heritage and some of the rhetoric being used in the RSPCA’s name surrounding the proposed culling of badgers to help reduce the incidence of tuberculosis in the countryside.
Its new chief executive, Gavin Grant, a Wiltshire resident, is widely reported to have called upon tourists to avoid cull areas on the basis that landowners should be made to feel the “commercial consequences” of allowing culling on their land.
“Those who care,” he says, “will not want to visit areas or buy milk from farms soaked in badger’s blood.”
Well, aside from the headline-grabbing intent of such remarks and the fact that they ignore the scientific justification and legality of a limited cull on private land for the purposes of disease control and animal welfare, what actually lies behind them?
To use his own analogy, is Mr Grant trying merely to tap into a potential new vein of donations?
Possibly, given that the RSPCA’s expenditure is apparently exceeding its income of around £115 million, with legacies taking a particular hit – down by over 20 per cent – and reserves diminishing to under £50 million.
But, if so, it’s a risky strategy, given that such stridency may alienate as many donors as it attracts.
Is he perhaps sniffing political blood and making early preparations to assist with the blood-letting of the Tories, as he did so effectively in paving the way to propel the power-hungry Blair regime into office via the ‘animal vote’ when he was campaigns director at the RSPCA in the early Nineties?
This may have some traction because, amongst other things, he is a Liberal Democrat who was involved in Nick Clegg’s party leadership campaign and he may well be looking to a renaissance of RSPCA influence under a Lib Dem/New Labour coalition after the next election.
Or is he simply seeking to radicalise the organisation in a bid to appeal to a new generation of ‘activists’ – again, possibly somewhat risky in that his stated intention is to try to generate more engagement with big companies interested in enhancing their image via their ‘corporate social responsibility’ ratings, presumably by donating to the RSPCA?
The society does have a somewhat turbulent history in terms of the composition of its national 25-strong ruling council, elected from among its 40,000 members.
When I started my brief but interesting sojourn there, it was agonising over the expulsion of the Animal Liberation Front’s press officer, Robin Webb, who was not without sympathisers within the organisation.
And now, under Gavin Grant’s stewardship, the RSPCA is joining in common cause with a ‘motley crew’ of ‘anti-cull’ organisations including the League Against Cruel Sports (humane culling of badgers having nothing whatsoever to do with either ‘cruelty’ or ‘sports’).
Perhaps even more surprisingly given that the RSPCA has its own farm assurance scheme, Freedom Foods, a pragmatic approach to welfare standards involving a quality mark labelling scheme for meat, eggs and dairy produce, is that its ‘anti-cull coalition’ comrades include VIVA (Vegetarians International Voice for Animals), Animal Aid and PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals).
These ‘animal rights’ groups advocate a vegan diet excluding meat, eggs and dairy produce.
In fact the animal rights movement generally is dedicated to ending the status of animals as property and to their use in the research, food, clothing and entertainment industries – quite what would happen to said animals in such a ‘liberated’ world is a little hazy.
So if the animal rights movement is all about ending their use by mankind as opposed to animal welfare being about responsibly ensuring their health and well-being, and the culling of badgers is a scientifically and legally validated means of disease control in pursuit of the ultimate health and well-being of both badgers and cattle, is the RSPCA an animal rights or an animal welfare organisation?