What is going on at the RSPCA?

11 August 2014

The RSPCA have hit the headlines once again, after the story emerged of Claude, a cat in Tring, who was put down by the RSPCA (against his owners’ wishes) for – as the headlines have it – ‘having long hair’. Following the RSPCA’s decision to put down the cat, the charity then decided to prosecute the family for animal cruelty – a case which the CPS has now thrown out.

In February last year, Melissa Kite asked whether the RSPCA ‘thought it was the FBI’ after a stream of ‘lurid’ headlines which led to an investigation by the Charity Commission and a Commons Debate on the matter. But that wasn’t before, as Melissa put it:

dozens of ordinary householders have been convicted, fined and even tagged for offences such as killing squirrels in their gardens, or not arranging adequate veterinary care for a sick pet’.

Since that piece was published, however, much has changed at the RSPCA. Firstly, their chief executive Gavin Grant – the man who many thought was behind the ‘in your face’ campaigns – stepped down from the job in February, citing ill health. The charity’s acting CEO, John Grounds, also left in April 2014, just a few months after Grant’s resignation. Then, last month, the charity’s chief legal officer confirmed that they were considering stopping their prosecutions of fox hunts, and shifting their focus back to their original cause – the wellbeing of domestic animals.

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But their entire prosecutions policy is also being independently reviewed by Stephen Wooler, a former CPS chief inspector, after the then-Attorney General, Dominic Grieve, wrote to the charity suggesting that it appoint ‘an independent person’ to review their policy.

But the strange thing is that despite their apparent review of their prosecutions policy, the RSPCA is still standing by their somewhat heavy-handed approach to domestic animal cases. Yesterday’s story – about Claude the cat – was featured on BBC’s Today programme, on which David Bowles, Head of Public Affairs at the charity, stood by their decision to remove the animal and have him put down. The cat’s owners refused to authorise the euthanasia, but claim that due to the threats of police action and ‘enormous pressure’ from the RSPCA, they eventually agreed to it.

Mr Bowles, however, denied John Humphrys’ claim that the number of cases the charity take to court has ‘nearly doubled’ in the past couple of years, and stated that he was proud of the charity’s prosecution record – despite the fact that they spent £326,000 prosecuting David Cameron’s local hunt, the Heythrop.

‘We haven’t taken any proactive decision to be more active at all’, said Mr Bowles, instead blaming any increase in prosecutions on ‘the recession’ and ‘a knee-jerk reaction from people’ who decide to buy animals on the spur of the moment – a claim that Humphrys rubbished.

Wooler’s independent report, which was initially promised in May, still hasn’t emerged, and the charity remains without a CEO. It will certainly be interesting to see what the RSPCA decide to do in the next couple of months. Their next choice of CEO – and how they decide to act on private prosecutions – will be an important decision for a charity that ought to be far more respected than, unfortunately, it currently is.

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Show comments
  • davidp24

    A few weeks ago I volunteered to walk dogs a local RSPCA pet rehoming centre, well what I got back was loads of docs including 3 forms including a medical form, another form requested referees and these forms also said they would share my data with undisclosed 3rd parties. Sadly it seems that the RSPCA has “lost the plot” as so many are suggesting. I can’t imagine a company running for 8 months without a CEO, especially one managing other people’s money. I love dogs but can’t have one of my own due to where I live, I just wanted to help, I can walk other people’s dogs and get paid for it, so how nuts is it that the RSPCA require all this, JUST TO WALK A DOG. Luckily I found another local dog rescue charity who had a little common sense.

  • slyblade
  • Lady Cee Cee

    What a bunch of Hoorays, not the RSPCA but you lot. The Society is maintained by its members not the tax payers. Fortunately it was wrested from the grubby little hunters and shooters paws a long time ago by people who really care about welfare and the rights of animals. Life is all about politics, so get over it.

    • Blindsideflanker

      As soon as an animal asks for its rights at that point I will respect them.

      • Liz

        Yeah, same for kids and mentally ill people! Right on brother!

    • Colin

      Do you homework, bigot. They receive, along with many other “charity” organisations, sizeable donations from the taxpayer. It’s wrong and it should be stopped. Try doing your own thinking!

    • Malcolm Stevas

      “Life is all about politics” sums up the blinkered one-dimensional fascistic worldview of animal-lib types, and offers a useful reminder of the kind of support the RSPCA currently attracts.

    • Stephen Green

      Sadly the politics is polluted by the envious scammers on the make who are perverting the classical formerly genuinely charitable organizations of which the RSPCA used to be one

  • artemis in france

    Expensive TV campaigns should from now on act as a déterrent to anyone considering donating to a charity. Considering the fortune spent to produce and expose thèse ” appeals”, many of which amount to pure emotional and moral blackmail, one’s first question should be “how much of my money will go toward helping children, animals, the starving?” etc. Charities have become too large to be meaningful except as employers. If they can afford huge TV campaigns, quite simply they’ve got too big for their boots. Stick to local charities, of which there are many, and they tend to know far more about what’s actually happening in your area and what help is needed, and are therefore able to provide it more effiiciently and far less officiously.

    • Stephen Green

      You will probably find that the fees paid to produce these perverted ads go to companies controlled by the relatives of the senior employees of the relevant ScamCharities concerned.

  • Peter Stroud

    Years ago the RSPCA approved of hunting with hounds, and hunting folk were encouraged to support the organisation. Then leftist. extremists took over, and the Society became a sort of hunt saboteurs association, with Royal patronage. It has lost its way both with regard to country sports, and the protection of domestic animals. It needs a complete overhaul. I’m afraid I would not give it a brass farthing.

  • Teazel Black

    they pretend they have the power of arrest they even look like the police all they are is charity workers in fancy dress. They harrass and bully the vulnerable and elderly its about time they were exposed and bought to book

  • MikeF

    The charity sector in common with the public sector is developing an adversarial attitude to the mass of the population of this country. The aim is not to serve but to manipulate, if necessary coerce and control in pursuit of objectives that have nothing to do with those they purport to represent.

  • animalnut

    Given that the RSPCA are a charity body with no more legal rights than the rest of us, it beggers belief how they get away with snatching peoples pets and deciding to kill. If any of us did that, we’d up on charges of theft and trespass at the very least. Yet this shower do it daily with no interference from any authority. Time we had an Ombudsman to speak for the ‘little people’

  • Malcolm Stevas

    This piece offers no surprises: the RSPCA
    transformed itself years ago from an admirable body that sought simply to
    protect animals from deliberate cruelty, into a politicised campaigning
    organisation seemingly hell-bent on sabotaging traditional sports, country
    life, and individual liberty. It is merely a more genteel version of the Hunt
    Saboteurs, but with much more money and far more power to do great harm. It’s
    nasty and should be brought to heel.

    • Stephen Green

      It just another member of the Scam Charity movement,reliant on sensationalist TV advertising to screw contributions from lonely house bound widows. They should be required to state how many average donations are required to fund the CEO’ s salary and bonuses before a penny is spent on genuine charitable objects.

  • Anthorny

    It looks like it is best to avoid any sort of relationship with the evil RSPCA. Even if a generous bequest is made to the RSPCA, it will try to get more money from the donating estate by dragging the living family members through the courts!

    The RSPCA also needlessly executes 17.2% of the healthy pets it is meant to be re-homing.

    Is the RSPCA another Jimmy Saville type scandal waiting to be exposed, this time with the torture and execution of helpless animals at the core rather than vulnerable children?

    • GUBU

      Now that’s what I call aggressive tax avoidance!

    • Jackthesmilingblack

      Do try and learn to Savile. An obvious misspelling like that does so compromise your credibility.

      • Anthorny

        There’s no way I’m going to “learn to Savile”.

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    What do the police, Social Services and the RSPCA have in common? They want to give every adult male in UK a criminal record.
    Jack, Japan Alps

    • RobertC

      Bit unfair on the Police.

      • Jackthesmilingblack

        No it’s not. Plod believes everyone is guilty of something. Most simply haven’t been apprehended yet.
        Hate it and leave irt Britisher pals.
        Jack, Japan Alps

  • dapplegrey

    Why on earth does this dreadful organisation get tax payers money? Who, or rather, which government authorised that?

  • Archibald Heatherington

    I’ve never donated to them, and I never shall until they’re pro-hunting, pro-shooting, and pro-culling.

    I suppose they’ll have to make do with the money they take from my taxes without my consent.

  • mike

    They seem to have become very political of late and perhaps on a bit of a class crusade.

  • Blindsideflanker

    When do gooders were given the right to investigate and powers to prosecute the result was always going to be a loss of perspective.

  • Colin

    I’d be interested to see how things are going in the donations department. Anecdotal, granted, but I personally know of three people who’ve stopped their regular donations. The recent TV ad campaign smacks of desperation, plus the aggressive tone, common in the recent past has been ditched. Until the rspca morphs back from being an animal rights organisation to an animal welfare charity, all money from the taxpayer should cease.

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