This is the newsletter published by and for members of the RSPCA. Because of the deep discontent that it shows within the membership we feel that it should have wider publicity than it currently receives. We have maintained the content accurately, but have lost some of the formatting. Past editions will be added as time permits. We hope that publishing this will do some good and lead to a much needed reform of the society. contains links that might be of further interest.
|Watchdog Newsletter Number 75 September 1999||
Tel 01293 786166
IS THE RSPCA GOING BACKWARDS?
Did you know that
From 1960 onwards blood sports enthusiasts in large numbers joined the RSPCA in the interest of blood sports
That by 1973 a growing number of disillusioned RSPCA members deplored the fact that a society formed to PREVENT cruelty to animals should number among its members the Chairman and President of the British Fields Sports Society, the Chairman of the Masters of Foxhounds Association together with masters and leaders of staghounds, otterhounds, beagling packs and live hare coursers – not forgetting the shooting fraternity?
That in February 1976 following recommendations in the Sparrow Report, a new Council Chairman R.J.Crisp was elected and the Council condemned fox hunting and all blood sports and the blood sports enthusiasts left the RSPCA?
BUT TWENTY YEARS LATER IN 1996 the RSPCA Council - YES - the RSPCA Council allowed ANOTHER infiltration of the blood sports enthusiasts into the RSPCA, refused to call an Extraordinary General Meeting of all RSPCA members and even suggested that they were acting under orders from the Charity Commission! The hunters, shooters and hare coursers make no secret of their intention to stop the RSPCA from campaigning for a more civilised attitude towards wildlife. Note this extract from a letter from D.LANLEY (tel;01335 324 323) Norbury Old Rectory, Roston Nr. Ashbourne Derbyshire DE6 2EG.
It is difficult to see how the pursuit of a committed stance against hunting with dogs can lead other than into a deepening embroilment against the wider spectrum of county sports generally - hunting with falcons, course and game fishing and shooting by way of example. For the Council to allow such a development would be to take unacceptable risk with the future of the organisation entrusted to their’ care.
Perhaps the present compliant Council members could explain how hunting and shooting wildlife conforms to the Society’s objects of PREVENTING cruelty to animals. We would also like to know if they were all asleep at that crucial meeting in 1996.
EVEN WORSE WAS TO COME The Council made Leicester the venue for the 1999 Annual General Meeting Whose brilliant idea was it to put the AGM in the very heartland of hunting country, ensuring easy access for the blood sports faction and making it very difficult for ordinary members from the S.E, the SW, Wales and the North to attend. Did the Council really not know about cheap fares to London but NOT to Leicester or had they another motive for choosing Leicester? Council members get all their expenses paid by the RSPCA funds as well as their hotel bills AND THEY CAN VOTE AS WELL!!! Democracy RSPCA style!
(See pages 5 and 6)
The Story of One Poor Fox
The story begins in February. Exhausted and injured the one year old cub had sought refuge in a rabbit hole as hounds and mounted followers bore down upon it. Hunt supporters were preparing themselves for the dig-out whilst saboteurs attempted to block their path and save the terrified animal. It is at this point that the story deviates from the norm. Instead of it being dug out and shot, instead of it being just one of the 50,000 foxes which annually suffer this fate, a policeman stepped in to save the cub. He offered the saboteurs his helmet, which without delay was placed over the rabbit hole and sat upon.
One does not doubt that the hunt supporters who were present at this scene were rather perplexed by this turn of events, for they turned on their heels and hooves and traipsed away. The bleeding cub was named Copper in honour of the compassionate constable before being wrapped in a blanket and take to a vet by activist Simon Wild.
Richard Edwards administered treatment in his surgery, ensuring that the policeman’s gesture was not in vain. Copper would survive. He then set about examining the animal. It is the results of this examination which have terrified the hunt lobby.
Mr. Edwards found that the animal was so severely stressed from the ordeal of being hunted that it would have died without treatment. It was Coppers mental state, as opposed to his physical injuries, which were life threatening. He also recorded that the cub had bite marks to the back of its legs and rump, giving the lie to hunt claims that foxes are killed humanely by "a quick bite to the back of the neck".
"I have never seen such trauma in a dog, even a badly injured one," said Mr. Edwards. The cub survived but were RSPCA members involved in the hunting of this poor animal????
This extract is from the LAC’s Wildlife Guardian Summer 1999 Tel LAC’s 0171 4036155
The RSPCA’s AGM gives RSPCA members the chance to make their voices heard (Annual Report page 19)
SO, the Council produced an Agenda for the 1999 AGM which is an insult to every member. TWENTY ONE motions were submitted by members for the AGM and the Council accepted only FOUR and two of those were from Council members. Mr.Taylor and Miss Reid want to restrict the rights of members still further! Members will have to apply to get an Annual Report and the Financial Accounts otherwise they will just get a Review! This gives rise to serious questions - how can the members at the AGM vote to accept the Annual Report and Financial Accounts if all they have seen is a SUMMARY of the financial affairs of the Society? How can members accept that the full Financial Accounts have been passed by Council members when it is far from certain that ALL, council members understand the accounts? Pathetically little information is given at present in the Annual Report, which is mainly composed of photographs, so what on earth will a Review contain? Close ups of the DG in various dress styles on his various excursions? The 17 motions dismissed by Council were said to be detrimental to the interests of the Society! Translated into language that can be understood, it seems to mean that the Council have interpreted the words ’detrimental to the interests of the Society’ to mean The Council MUST NOT be criticised! Whatever decision council has made or intends making MUST NOT be commented by the members because the members views are not wanted. What arrogance! Well here are a few of the rejected motions. What are YOUR views dear readers?
Would you like to know the official reason for rejection?
"The Council were NOT of the opinion for the purpose of Rule XVII of the Society’s Rules that the proposal or discussion of the resolution will NOT be detrimental to the interests of the Society." I was going to write CRAP but that would be rude wouldn’t it!
A Member Writes
"I have just been handed a back number of ’Watchdog’ and was delighted to read that other people are saying the same things that I have been saying for so long. I am up in arms at the proposal of building a new Headquarters at such an exorbitant cost. At our Regional meeting I spoke out against it and received considerable support from the audience. I had researched the matter thoroughly, as I have worked in the building trade and had consulted several Chairmen of Boards, whose firms had recently built large premises telling them exactly what was required and they were aghast at the sum put forward by HQ... I am fully aware that larger accommodation is needed but not to the sum of £21 MILLION I pointed out that our fund raisers worked hard week after week to raise money for ANIMALS not HUMANS and that people who work for a charity have a duty to that cause above their own comfort. I asked for plans to be sent to each District Committee and was asked, unbelievably, ’Why?’. We have now received a plan but only of the outside, which shows a statue! Of what benefit will a statue be to some poor distressed animal? Also landscaped gardens with numerous trees which will supposedly necessitate the employment of a gardener. All this was laughed away by the Director General, who said it would be the best Headquarters in the country and he would find the most important person he could to open it.(is anyone more important than the DG? ED) I pointed out that if so large a sum could be found it should be used to build more clinics and animal homes and again there was applause, but no one seems to be doing anything to stop this obscene waste. How can we beg for money from people when they see it being wasted in this openly outrageous manner. Now we are asked to elect next year’s Council. How can we with any confidence believe that the new members will stop and think of the cause for which they are working and halt this wicked waste of money on building a show place when all that is needed is a custom built Headquarters to house those who are supposed to be working and training abused animals? Kathleen Dodkin M.B.E.
"Everyone? yes! up here is utterly disillusioned with the Society from a murmur there is now a rumble from the general public." Isobel Cowan
Once again the National Elections are upon us and as in the past I am writing to all the branches in Region 5 to appeal to all members to use their votes. The election booklets have now been circulated, but the candidate’s election addresses cannot tell the whole story.
I have in previous years told branches of my voting intention, and am happy to discuss any election matters in more details if required.
This year I will be voting for: -
Mrs.Chamberlain. Mr.Cressey. Mr.Lloyd. Mr.Page. Mr.Phipps.
May I appeal to you to circulate the contents of this letter to all known members in order to stimulate the very poor percentage of members who return their voting papers.
Finally I must ask if a special effort could be made this year to attend the Society AGM in Leicester on 26th June.
Yours Sincerely M S Tomlinson
This is a particularly nasty letter written on 21/5/99 by Mr.Tomlinson to the branches in Region 5. We are not surprised that Region 5 members complained to Watchdog. If Mr. Tomlinson wrote it when ONLY a Regional Representative it would be up to branch committees to complain. That it was done at his own expense is irrelevant. But Mr. Tomlinson at the time was Chairman of Council and as such accountable to ALL members. He has a duty as Chairman of Council to act IMPARTIALLY. His Comments give rise to serious concern. He claims that the candidates election addresses cannot tell the whole story yet his election address gives no details of his educational/professional qualifications, no indication of his occupation, nor his age or membership of other organisations and no details of his connection with a sandwich making business which is of importance in relation to the meat trade and Freedom Food Ltd. His willingness to discuss any election matters in more detail is quite shocking – is he suggesting he is prepared to take part in character assassination? His whole attitude in circulating such a letter is divisive it is particularly offensive in that there were only six candidates Mr.Tomlinson can now reflect on how ineffective his advice was because the one candidate he did not promote David Mawson was elected in 3rd place.
WATCHDOG recommended David Mawson because he is young, intelligent, enthusiastic and deeply committed to the prevention of cruelty to animals. We believe he will bring a breath of fresh air into this SAD, SECRETIVE DIVIDED COUNCIL, the majority of whose members are aggressive to each other and to the membership at large.
WE BELIEVE THE RSPCA DESERVES A BETTER CHAIRMAN OF COUNCIL one who is truly impartial and one who can unite the Council and the Society.
From The Daily Telegraph 25/6/99
Pro-Hunting RSPCA group denied vote on hardliners
By Charles Clover and Charlie Methven
Hundreds of pro-hunting members of the RSPCA have been denied the opportunity to vote on motions critical of the influence of extreme animals rights activists within the charity at its annual meeting tomorrow.
The RSPCA has refused to accept motions proposed by Ian Alexander , QC, Sir Adam Butler, the former Tory MP and a former RSPCA council member, and David Longridge, all members of the pro-hunting Countryside Animal Welfare Group (CAWG), on the grounds that they could be detrimental to the interests of the society.
The group , which claims to represent 10 per cent of the RSPCA's 40,000 members, aims to field more than 500 supporters, all ARPCA members, at the meeting in Leicester.
Among those expected to attend are: Richard Meade, the Olympic gold medallist eventer and chairman of CAWG, Baroness Mallalieu, president of the Countryside Alliance, and Lord Mancroft, a council member of the alliance.
The RSPCA, which has campaigned against hunting since the late 1970's, has taken legal advice and consulted the Charity Commissioners on how to expel those who support hunting.
The banned resolution, by Mr. Alexander,, invited members to agree that "the growing influence within the society of persons with extreme views of animal rights" was a matter of serious public concern and detrimental to the interest of the society.
"In particular this meeting rejects attempts to exclude from membership persons who, while upholding the principal objects of the society and who are deeply concerned about animal welfare, are part of a substantial body of opinion which holds different view as to the human relationship with animals."
The banned resolution called on the RSPCA council to "cease expenditure upon politically-motivated lobbying and advertising".
Mr. Longridge's resolution directs the council to draw the attention of the Charity Commissioners to the "growing evidence of intrusion by animal rights activists into the society and their attempts to alter and control the true traditional objects and aims of the society within its rules".
Mr. Adam Butler's resolution calls for a change in the rules governing the election of members to the council.
Though annual meetings are usually devoted to hearing views of members, Dr. Richard Ryder, a council member, has contributed a resolution which has been accepted, and which the CAWG is hoping to vote down.
His motion says that "the society requests the Government to amend generally the Private Members' Bill procedure to reduce its vulnerability to attack from minorities".
Bobby Faber, a member of CAWG, said: "The whole point of an annual general meeting is to let the membership speak but we have been prevented from doing so."
John Rolls, director of communications for the RSPCA said: "Members may put forward resolutions at the AGM subject to the premise that, in the opinion of the council, the proposal or discussion of that resolution will not be detrimental tot he interests of the society."
He said that, in the event of Dr. Ryder's resolution failing, the council would have to address the implications of that but would not be required to change any policy of the society.
The RSPCA Council Incompetent or pro-hunting?
In 1997, the RSPCA Council was given a tape recording which outlined the plans of the, BFSS for changing the RSPCA policies on wildlife. This was the year that Mrs. Burton who was not opposed to hunting and was promoted Mrs. Unmack was elected to the Council.
The tape recording made it clear that in 1999,the hunters would be strong enough to make their presence felt. Did the Council heed this warning? NO! The Council members having opened the flood gates to allow thousands of blood sports enthusiasts to join the RSPCA without a challenge in the, law courts, they proceeded to take the Annual General Meeting out of London right bang smack into the heart of hunting country in LEICESTER!
The Council then arranged for Richard Ryder to propose a motion which was certain to inflame the Blood sports faction who were already outraged by the rejection of their motions attacking Animal rights extremists
Such crass planning is unbelievable unless the majority on the Council are secret hunt supporters. if it is gross incompetence then hea4s’ should roll starting with the Chairman of Council and the Director General.
Quote of the Month
Today, however, if we are to make any advance at all we must move into a territory which is heavily defended by those of noble birth and lofty purpose, by the cheap food brigade, the men of science and of medicine and sundry merchants and mercenaries. This is where we move from the land of the sadist the fiend and half-wit, to assault one vested interested, the fashion and beauty specialists, the cattle men, the hunting men, the hare coursers and the rest.
Lord Houghton 1977
The 1999 RSPCA Annual General Meeting
Having been warned that the 1999 AGM would be a disaster, the Council members should not have been surprised to find the once proud objects of the society dragged through the mud with the rejection of Richard Ryder's motion by the blood sports enthusiasts.
Many members phoned Watchdog in great distress to complain about the arrogance and rudeness of the hunters and' the behaviour of the Chairman who interrupted council members but allowed the hunters free range - so much so that a huntsman congratulated him. One member was so upset by the conversations of the surrounding hunters that she left her seat to move away from the coarse comments.
Thank goodness there was an anti hunt demonstration outside the hall as it was estimated that there were only about 170 ordinary members present and about 550 hunters 550 had arrived in coaches.
The blood sports faction abstained from accepting the Financial Accounts and voted against moving the AGM back to London. OF COURSE THEY DID The' next AGM is to be held in Sheffield. Is mad cow disease affecting the Council? We only ask because so many members are shocked by what is happening.
No wonder a member shouted out "This room smells of blood". Why just' the room? The whole RSPCA now smells of blood.
This was a horrible meeting. We can only hope that the Council chooses a different chairman - we doubt if the members will stand much more.
From The Observer 27/6/99
Pro-hunt lobby wins RSPCA vote
By John Arlidge
BLOOD SPORTS supporters were accused of sabotaging the RSPCA's annual meeting yesterday when they blocked moves to ban fox hunting.
Pro-hunt members of the society voted down a motion which called for parliamentary reforms to prevent private members bills being talked out by dissident MP's.
Richard Ryder who proposed the motion, said current practice, which allowed rogue MP's to talk out bills such as anti-hunt laws proposed by Michael Foster, was outdated. Reform, he insisted, would not stifle proper debate.
Delegates who also belonged to the Countryside Alliance, which aims to preserve hunting, turned out in force at the meeting in Leicester. It exposed deep divisions within the charity, with huntsmen condemning their opponents as "veggie tree huggers".
Pro-hunt speakers claimed that the RSPCA was being hi-jacked by animal rights extremists whose political agenda could lose the society its charitable status.
The RSPCA hierarchy was shaken by the motions defeat but said the opponents were only a minority of its 50,000 members. It said: "We thought anyone who genuinely cared about animal welfare would have wanted to improve the chances of this kind of reform being made. The society's council will consider whether the vote is representative of the whole membership."
Thank you for all your phone calls and letters. We share your distress that the RSPCA has gone back to the dreadful days in the 60's and 70's. Members want more democracy and an end to all the absurd secrecy. It is clear that matters cannot be left as they are at the moment. As Richard Adams said during another difficult time - the animals are standing at the door waiting for us to help them.
Thank you for the stamps and donations we need help to keep barking!
Those who remember Anne Jenkins will be sorry to learn of her death. She did a great deal for animals both as a branch secretary and whilst living in Jordan. She was badly treated by the RSPCA but we were glad to know that we were able to help and support her. We miss her.
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