A bevy of animal rights advocates have put themselves forward as candidates for election to the RSPCA’s ruling council. It is likely that one or more will be elected by the charity’s 22,000-strong membership.
The RSPCA has an annual £125m year income. The election of animal rights advocates may change the direction of the charity. The last chief executive, Gavin Grant, had a somewhat torrid time and resigned due to ill-health after prioritising the concept of litigating high profile cases through the courts to highlight animal abuse. The concept failed because of overzealous prosecutions.
John Bryant, one of the new candidates, has a PETA-esque opinion about companion animals – do away with them entirely. This is what PETA want. He feels that the companion animal – primarily cats and dogs – are slaves to humans. They should be “liberated from our firesides”.
I can see where he is coming from. It could be argued that the concept of the domestic cats and dogs has failed to a large extent because of poor management by humans and worse; there are too many cats and dogs euthanised annually to call domestication a success. And there is too much animal abuse. Humans, taken as a whole, are perhaps not entirely suited to being a companion to animals.
Another candidate is vegan Peta Watson-Smith, who compares farming to the holocaust. I can understand that argument too.
Dan Lyons, a third candidate, is the co-founder with Angela Roberts of Centre for Animals and Social Justice. This organisation investigates the “democratic representation of animals”.
Angela Roberts is the co-founder of Uncaged, which targeted Procter & Gamble for animal testing. Excellent.
Angela Roberts with Dan Lyons, have looked at solutions to non-human political empowerment. And state:
“Some academics have suggested reserving seats in parliament for representatives elected exclusively for the representation of the interests of animals.”
That is an excellent idea. There is certainly a place in parliament for the voice of animals.
Being a bit of an animal right activist myself, I’d love to these candidates to succeed. Not everyone would agree, obviously. The charity is in the process of rebuilding its reputation after the unsettling years under Grant. Tim Bonner, director of campaigns at the Countryside Alliance said:
“It would be a significant backward step to elect onto its council people determined to return the society to an extremist agenda.”
I disagree because I don’t see animal rights advocates as extremists. I see them as people keenly focusing of the aspects of our relationship with animals which have failed and how to rectify things. It is the mainstream establishment who are, arguably, the extremists in supporting for example fox hunting which is due to be reinstated during this parliament.