The RSPCA: A Charity to Put Down for 2013

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I am a great animal lover and, historically, a supporter of the RSPCA (and its IOM equivalent the MSPCA). It provided my cats and I think of it doing good works rehousing poets and stopping domestic cruelty. And that is what it used to do back in its 1970s heyday. It was a fluffy charity everyone loved. But then it sought a wider brief moving away from family pets to wider issues of animal welfare. These days it is a deeply political organisation.

© Tom Winnifrith

You can guess the mindset by reading the blog of its press officer on the RSPCA website. He discusses how he is working with the Sun newspaper on a campaign:

You might not be the biggest fan of Page Three girls, sensational headlines or double page features on Jedward (seriously, who is?), but our priority remains animal welfare – not The Sun’s editorial policy.

Of course not. You are a stuck up middle class deluded lefty and the Sun is for thick poor people and right wingers. Sneer away, hold your nose and rock on.

The latest triumph for the RSPCA is in prosecuting Call Me Dave’s local hunt for killing a fox. Question for the Islington losers at the RSPCA: How many foxes have call Me Dave’s hunt killed recently? How many domestic animals are killed by foxes each year in rural Oxon? How exactly are you assisting animal welfare.

It is not only that in a patently political act the RSPCA went after Call Me Dave’s local hunt it is the fact that it spent £330,000 on the case – ten times the defence costs. The RSPCA thinks that with an annual income of £116 million it can afford to piss away such sums on gesture politics. It thinks wrongly.

Half of its income comes from legacies the rest from membership and fundraising by its members. Those wills which left such vast sums were generally drawn up in the 60s, 70s and 80s before the organisation became such a humourless, politically driven beastie. There will be less legacy incomer going forward. As for membership? It has fallen from 47, 298 a decade ago to just 26,043 today. And it will fall further. Rabid “animal lovers” are drawn to even more politicised organisation. But the sort of nice middle class country folk who used to back the RSPCA might actually support fox hunting. They know the badger cull (which the RSPCA opposed) was needed. And they will be horrified to discover that the £330,000 pissed away on hounding Call Me Dave’s local hunt is not an isolated case. Last year the RSPCA spent £8.7 million on litigation and is known for hiring expensive briefs for minor cases.

The Celia Hammond Animal Trust is tight on costs, does not politicise and just gets on with its job, one of which was amputating Oakley’s leg. Oakley is one of my two cats. Which charity will I support? It ios obvious. And I am not alone. The RSPCA still does some very valuable work. But it is going badly wrong. I wonder how much its Chief Executive, Mr Gavin Grant, is paid each year? I suspect that would be another shocker for those little old ladies as they consider who benefits from their demise. One suspects that increasingly it will not be Mr Grant, poor old foxy woxy and its sneering press officer.

The acid test of the RSPCA for me is search the word “fox” on its website. According to the RSPCA the fox is “one of the most popular of British mammals.” Yup maybe in N1 but not where I grew up. The website tells you how you “can help foxes in your area.” I note the writing completion for teenagers and an award winning entry “Fox” which describes its fear of a pack of dogs with their “vicious canines” but it all has a happy ending as Foxy goes for a swim and then falls asleep. The last words… “Sweet dreams.” Oh, I am in tears. Poor little foxy woxy. I am so glad that there is someone out there to help him. Someone who really cares.

There is more on the website but I could not face it. Truly nauseating.

PS. Just before Christmas I also published HERE the RSPCA Christmas Carol to be sung to the tune of Away in a Manger.

This article first appeared in Tom Winnifrith’s bi-weekly Tomograph newsletter which contains links to all his articles on 10 leading UK and US investment and political websites, plus exclusive articles such as this one and (once a week) a free share tip. Click here to start receiving the Tomograph this weekend.

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  1. Steve Bourne says:

    An animal welfare charity ensuring the welfare of animals!?! Well I never!

  2. Jim says:

    @Steve Bourne: try getting the RSPCA to actually help a sick or injured animal that you come across, and you’ll be waiting a long time. They don’t ‘do’ actual animal welfare any more. Thats left to small local charities and individuals working an difficult conditions with no or little money. Just a small amount of the millions they spend on legal fees and salaries every year could help the hundreds of animal shelters up and down the country. But do they ever give them any money? Of course not. They’re too busy drawing their fat pay cheques and pursuing political campaigns. Repugnant isn’t even close to describing it.

  3. Jim – spot on

    Steve – Spending vast sums protecting foxes is not a win for animal welfare. I take it you live in a town where foxy woxy feasts in bins. Where I grew up foxes killed our chickens, geese & ducks. Not just for food but for sport. They kill cats. They kill wild ducks, geese & swans. They are vermin, yet the RSPC tries to protect them.

    That is why my cash goes to small charities like Celia Hammond which actually help animals.


  4. Steve Bourne says:

    There are many legitimate reasons to criticise the RSPCA and admonish them for dastardly deeds. Protecting foxy woxy, I’m afraid, is not one of those reasons.

    Please explain, Tom, why protecting a tribe of animals and aggressively taking on groups of people who kill them for sport is outside the remit of an organisation whose main purpose is to protect animals? You admonish the RSPCA for protecting a group of animals who kill for sport (might need a citation on that- not sure how you can say that?), whilst bemoaning the fact that they prosecuted a hunt for doing the exact same thing?

    If you want to suggest a cull for foxes- fine, go ahead and say so. Like with the badger cull (which you might not want to assume that everyone are proponents of – “badger culling has positive and negative effects on bovine TB in cattle and is difficult, costly and controversial” –, there are valid points for and against it.

    I also grew up in the country and have seen the victims of hungry foxes. My neighbours chickens were ravaged one evening. What did my neighbours do? They realised that foxes were part of the local ecosystem long before the chickens in the back garden were, and made their coop more secure.

    It’s good that you put your money into an alternative though, rather than doing what a lot of people do and don’t put any money into animal welfare because of disillusionment with the RSPCA.

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  6. John Westlocks says:

    This December article rather missed the point that the RSPCA is a unique charity to which Parliament has given powers in particular circumstances to bring criminal prosecutions.
    Indeed the RSPCA is one of the very few organisations in England – other than the Crown Prosecution Service – able to bring prosecutions.

    The RSPCA behaves and is treated like any other prosecuting authority and, as I understand it, that is exactly what a Trial Judge did in a recent case when the RSPCA as the prosecuting authority disclosed to the Court the cost of the prosecution as part of their application for costs – the Trial Judge expressed concern at the level of those costs but that is something that he would have been free equally to have done with the Crown Prosecution Service, if the CPS had incurred what the Court considered to be a disproportionate level of costs in bringing a prosecution.

    The fact is that Legal work costs money just as it does to prosecute the guilty over an illegal Hunting with Dogs case…. as say prosecuting someone for Libel. It’s a fact of life and a cost that needs to be paid to prosecute those who choose to abuse animals.

  7. Greyhoundgirl says:

    Just for the record to anyone still out there, despite the RSPCA’s funding going down in 2011 the executive’s pay went up! They added one more 90,000 earner and increased the chief exec’s pay by 10 grand to £119,000. They also added a million pounds to their pension pot and paid the paension contributions to nearly all their execs too!

  8. Claire says:

    Hmm. Celia Hammond is an on off RSPCA Council member.


    Keith Mann was described by a judge as a “ruthless fanatic” when he was sentenced in the mid-1990s to a 14-year jail sentence for a terrorist-style campaign of sabotage against the meat and poultry trade.

    Back in 2004 after I acquired a copy of the RSPCA Policy Document, at the same time someone made a web site of it, but naturally I have no idea who!!

    In response a gentleman, who I cannot name, from an organisation which I cannot name, posted my home address on a web site. Within 24 hours animals kept in my garden had been killed. It is thought Mr Mann may well have some knowledge of this and some of the other six incidents at my home.

    Mr Mann was recaptured after ten months on the run, when he was found working at a cat sanctuary in East Sussex under an assumed name.

    The sanctuary was operated by Celia Hammond, a member of the RSPCA Ruling Council!

    Ms Hammond pleaded on Mann’s behalf at this court hearing, as I recall describing him as a thoroughly decent chap!

    Ms Hammond is still a member of the RSPCA Ruling Council, from which I can only conclude that the RSPCA consider it appropriate for Council members to support terrorists of this nature!

    If you are interested in the RSPCA you ought to see:



    The SHG Blog

    RSPCA Injustice Blog

    SHG Press releases

    Archived Press Releases

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