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)