Wrong Leadership At RSPCA


The RSPCA relies on donations from the animal loving public. What sort of RSPCA do they want? I am sure they want an organisation that has a direct involvement in animal welfare, which means a hands-on operation that saves the lives of animals, rehomes companion animals and which treats injured animals. So, what have the generous British public got? A political organisation run by a person who has a background in politics and public relations.

Not only is the chief executive of the RSPCA, Gavin Grant, a person who tried twice to be elected as a Lib Dem Member of Parliament, he has been chairman of the PR agency Burson-Marsteller, which did work for AstraZeneca, Unilever and GlaxoSmithKline, companies known for being involved in animal testing. This is not a great CV for a man charged with improving the lives and saving the lives of animals.

Talking about saving lives, was Mr Grant behind the acknowledged unnecessary slaughter of 40 sheep at Ramsgate not long ago? It was a PR exercise that went badly wrong. It was an awful mess. Forty sheep were offloaded from a lorry at Ramsgate docks and killed by the RSPCA with a bolt gun because they were all declared lame. There was blood everywhere. If used properly, bolt guns should not produce lots of blood. The bloody massacre was photographed and the photo used in a PR exercise against shipping animals. Very odd. Blood looks good in a photo that demands impact. The sheep shouldn’t have been killed anyway.

Other disturbing information about modern RSPCA is:

  • A fall in membership over 10 years from 35,000 to 25,000;
  • The resignations of three senior RSPCA executives;
  • A prosecution of a fox hunt that cost £326,000 in legal fees and which achieved a fine for the fox hunt of £7,000. I am all for prosecuting fox hunts who break the law but please keep the costs proportionate.
  • Less and less companion animals are being rehomed while…
  • More companion animals are being euthanised – with a bolt gun (sometimes?) — the RSPCA, we are told, now kills 44% of the animals it rescues – a total of 53,000 animals a year, 3,400 of which are destroyed for “non-medical reasons”. Not a great record, it has to be said.
  • A plea for funds recently. There are many good reasons for this but are funds being used wisely?

My personal experience of trying to get the RSPCA to turn up and assist a fox in dire need proved fruitless until others called and appeared to have put some heat on them. This reflects what I see as going on; a winding down of direct assistance to animals in need and a ramping up of lobbying and large campaigns.

I have very strong feelings that the individual people who fund the RSCPA (founded in 1834), often through large legacies in their wills, really want to see this venerable organization directly involved in the welfare of animals. It should be a hands-on, on the ground charity which is less involved in campaigns and high profile fancy promotions etc.

In doing that, the organisation will get all the good publicity it needs and do well in years to come. They have the wrong leader for that task, in my opinion. The person in charge should be a dyed-in-the-wool animal loving person with a CV that shouts: I love animals. I think Ruth and Babz together would be fine 😉

Photo by didbygraham (creative commons on Flickr)

11 thoughts on “Wrong Leadership At RSPCA”

  1. I’ve had no good experiences with the RSPCA and don’t donate money to be swallowed up in a huge organisation with lots of paid jobs.
    As long as their patron is a person who believes in killing life for fun the whole thing is a mockery.
    It’s time that family moved with the times and to know that to animal loving people taking their lives just because they can is not acceptable.
    It’s time the RSPCA did the job they are supposed to do preventing cruelty to animals and stopping them from suffering when called upon to do that.

  2. As an Indian unaware of the British “R.S.P.C.A” i find thus article and the debates an eye-opener on Animal welfare in the developed World.In Mumbai i have personally bequeathed a small part of my life Insurance policy to the local Mumbai “S.P.C.A(Parel animal hospital)”, having sentimental memories of this large hospital situated in downtown Mumbai and over a century old.This is my small charity towards my pets that have given me companionship and made life pleasant.

    • Well, Rudolph, I think you have done exactly the right thing because your donation is going to a specific operation (an animal hospital) and not a faceless, large organisation with high admin costs and unclear objectives (as far as I am concerned). The big charities tend to lose their way and lose contact with the people who have pets and who make donations. The RSPCA needs to reconnect with the people who donate, the public, through providing a direct service for them.

  3. But can someone be in charge of the RSPCA who would cry most of the time at the atrocities that animals have to bear? If I was part-chief-executive I’d have to wear a blindfold and ear plugs to work because I couldn’t stand to see or hear all the horrors, and if I was an inspector responding to calls I’d have to attend each and every one, there would be lots of overtime because there would be no refusing, and I think I would have to acquire a gun or a stout stick with nails in to mete out instant justice to the cruel perpetrators. Do you think there is any point in me applying?

    • LOL. You’d want to run and you’d cry but at the end of the day, you would steel yourself and manage the place so that animals, individual animals, were helped. This is because you car enough and you couldn’t let them down.

      • Michael have you heard the saying about the pot calling the kettle? YOU, kind sir, care about the animals, oh so much,too so I’m nominating you for the job.

        • You know, if I didn’t have PoC to run and if they’d have me, I’d do it 😉 It would be a different organisation. It would be streamlined. Admin would be reduced. There would be more vans and ladies and men out on the ground saving and helping animals of all kinds. We would work with people, ordinary people, to improve animal welfare and we’d steer clear of politics and politicians. We would expand the hospitals and every shelter would be genuine no-kill. That is the way people like it. RSPCA is run like a big business. That is wrong. It should be more personal and highly efficient.

          I’d probably get the boot in 12 months!

    • LoL – I agree – it would be hard. I think you would need to have a bolt gun at the ready for the humans who need it.

      I never knew the RSPCA had turned into something so typically capitalist. I always thought it was a good and respectable organisation until I read about Michael trying to get them to come and help the fox. Was the fox euthanised Michael? Anyhow, it seems they are going the way of some of the big american organisations.

      Once any organisation becomes over a certain size, and commands the use of alot of money, it all invariably becomes too much about PR and not so much about working hard to make the best physical use of money ‘given’ to them along with the trust from the donators that it will be used for a good cause. It’s more simply put a betrayal. I think what they really do now should be advertised clearly so we don’t give money thinking they will help dying foxes. Sounds like they have become a bit of a political force. What actually do they do apart from sue fox hunters? I hate fox hunting.

      • Anyhow, it seems they are going the way of some of the big american organisations.

        That is the truth of it. It is trying to be big business. Big business is incompatible with animal welfare, on the ground, at the sharp end. It should be a network of small businesses focused on local animal welfare.

        It is good to sue the fox hunting bastards, for sure, but they could have employed a cheaper barrister and still have won handsomely. I am convinced lots of money is wasted in admin and follies.

        I don’t know what happened to my fox. I do know that it is almost certain he/she was PTS, which is a great relief because this fox was in real pain. He’d sit upright and rest his head near his broken leg and stay like that for ages. I felt his pain. He had licked all the hair of his leg in tying to relieve the pain. Bloody awful.

  4. Thanks for the vote of confidence Michael lol
    I volunteered for the RSPCA when I was 15 years old because my old headmistress was the local secretary, she had 2 cats Teddy and Coco. I loved going to her house as our late dad wouldn’t let us have cats at home.
    But then I found out that a lot of the money raised by volunteers went on plush offices and high wages for the executives and I stopped helping.
    I’m not surprised at Mr Grant being involved in companies that test on animals, I mean you only have to look at what RSPCA stands for, the ROYAL Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to animals. Their Patron is of course the queen, small q on purpose as I don’t respect any member at all, of a family who hunt animals and shoot birds for fun, even their latest member by marriage Kate Middleton has been photographed with dead animal trophies!
    The whole organisation is a mockery and when the RSPCA come knocking at the door asking us to sign up to direct debits to them I tell them a few home truths!
    Time and time again they have refused to help animals, until like with that poor fox, pressure was put on them.

    • Thanks Ruth. What you say confirms what I say: you and Babz would do better than Grant because you care, you really care about animal welfare and that really has to be at the heart of the RSPCA, but it isn’t.


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