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.
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Watchdog Newsletter Number 81 July 2000
Riding for a fall.An ominous prelude to today’s great race
Even those oblivious to horseracing the rest of the year cannot resist the Grand National. As its name suggests, it is one of that handful of British sporting occasions which serve as a collective moment in the life of the nation. Along with the Cup Final and Wimbledon, the Grand National is an event which draws in people who ordinarily have no interest in the sport. Non-betters suddenly fancy a flutter; non-experts start studying the form.
This year however, the National has had the worst possible overture. It has been the build-up not to a festival, but a funeral: yesterday Aintree claimed its fifth horse in two days. The images of fine animals, leaping, falling and finally quivering before death are distressing to all who see them. It seems a cruel kind of madness to keep going with an event which ends in so much pain, so often. Animal rights activists have now ratcheted up their familiar demand for a ban, threatening instead the possibility of prosecution. A group known as Animal Aid suggests a case could be brought under the 1911 Protection of Animals Act.
Such instant responses, fuelled by emotion, are understandable. People feel that for the tape simply to come down this afternoon as if nothing had happened would be wrong, For their part, the organisers claim the problem amounts to nothing more than horribly bad luck. Normally, they say, only three in every thousand racehorses are killed. For five to fall in two days is, according to the JockeyClub, an extraordinary rarity, "a statistical blip". Besides, they add, only two of the five met their deaths on the National course itself – a course which has been vastly improved to learn the lessons of previous, fatal years. In this they find an unexpected ally in the RSPCA. When their representative walked the track at Aintree, he was impressed enough to report that "it could not have been in better condition".
The National’s organisers will use this verdict to buttress their case. But it may, paradoxically, hinder more than it helps. For no longer can Aintree promise to make future improvements to save horses’ lives. They have done all they can – and still five had to be put down.’ This leaves than open to more fundamental pressure, enabling activists to say that horseracing itself is an inevitably lethal sport. Whatever else happens today, the onus is now on Aintree to ensure that there is never another National year like this one.
The press and. the public were shocked by the continuing slaughter of horses at Aintree; The Guardian Editorial on 8/4/2000 said -
"The images of fine animals, leaping, falling and finally quivering before death are distressing to all who see them. It seems a cruel kind of madness to keep going with an event which ends in so much pain so often".
Why could the RSPCA not have said this? Why was it left to Animal Aid to suggest prosecution under the 1911 Protection of Animals Act? Instead the RSPCA representative was reported as being impressed by the track at Aintree. "It could not have been in better condition," he said.
’Don’t force closure of animal labs’
Whilst campaigners celebrated the news that Shamrock Farm in Sussex had closed, an RSPCA spokesman was reported in the Evening Telegraph 11/3/2000 as saying –
"Chimpanzees and bonobos
are our closest living relatives.
"Establishments will either import primates directly or carry out tests abroad where the UK has no control over the conditions in which these animals are kept".
Did the spokesman not know that Shamrock monkeys were exported abroad’?
HUNTINGDON LIFE SCIENCES
An RSPCA branch committee member visited HLS and rang Watchdog to report what he had seen. He was very upset at what he had seen. When a small monkey. In the monkey ’playroom’, grabbed his arm and looked at him with pleading eyes, he burst into tears, and could not remain in the place any longer.
However, an-RSPCA Supt was reported in the same Evening Telegraph as speaking out AGAINST the crusade to shut down HLS – quoting the same old excuse that animal testing would only go abroad
Does he not know that huge protests about the cruel treatment of animals in labs go on in other places?
HILL GROVE FARM
"All the cats we saw seemed fit and healthy. They were well socialised with each other and with staff. None of us saw any evidence of cruelty or mistreatment of the cats" – ’M. Jennings (RSPCA Head of RAD).
Did Ms Jennings go inside the sheds or just peer through the windows? Has she asked the opinion of Ms Walder who looked after the rescued Hillgrove cats?
PERFORMING ANIMALS IN CIRCUSES
Who obtained the evidence to prosecute Mary Chipperfield? The RSPCA?
No. The Animal Defenders obtained the evidence.
30 APRIL 2000
Authors, scientists and philosophers are combining to throw their intellectual weight behind a bid to establish an animals’ Magna Carta, a Bill of Rights for all sentient creatures, with the great apes being given top priority. ’The United Nations has a Declaration of Human Rights. Now it should think about having a Declaration of Rights for the Great Apes,’ says David Pearson of the international group, the Great Ape Project.
19 AUGUST 1977
Twenty-three years ago, at a symposium in Cambridge, the RSPCA produced a declaration of Animals’ Rights.
The declaration was signed by 150 people. Amongst then were many famous people – Richard Adams, Lord Houghton; Andrew Linzey, Ruth Plant, Professor Tom Regan, Richard Ryder, and Professor Peter Singer. We are proud to say that amongst the signatures were two of the present Watchdogs, Angela Walder and Dave Wetton.
’This declaration was proudly placed in the front of the RSPCA Policy Book – what happened to it?
It was removed by the present Council.
Just as the world is waking up to the need for a Bill of Rights for the other species on this planet, beginning with the great apes, the RSPCA takes a huge step backwards from the lead that was established 22 years ago. In case you have never seen the Declaration here it is: -
THE RIGHTS OF ANIMALS
A Declaration Against Speciesism
Inasmuch as we believe that there is ample evidence that many other species are capable of feeling, we condemn totally the infliction of suffering upon our brother animals, and the curtailment of their enjoyment, unless it be necessary for their own individual benefit-.
We do not accept that a difference in species alone (any more than a difference in race) can justify wanton exploitation or oppression in the name of science or sport, or for food, commercial profit or other human gain.
We believe in the evolutionary and moral kinship of all animals and we declare our belief that all sentient creatures have rights to life, liberty and the quest for happiness.
We call for the protection of these rights.
These noble words should be pinned above the door of the RSPCA HQ. Why not look to an enlightened future instead of what appears to be running to the defence of the animal exploiters? Where is the vision of what could be? In our opinion it is because the majority on the present Council are too weak and too compliant. We must also ask the question whether the Director General is suitable to help the Council lead the world into a new millennium for animals.
Bank pulls plug on
’Cruel' animal lab
THE GUARDIAN 10/6/2000
The Royal Bank of Scotland is to pull the plug on a £20m overdraft with the controversial animal testing laboratory Huntington Life Sciences after bank staff were threatened by animal rights protesters.
’STOP HUNTINGDON ANIMAL CRUELTY’
If cruelty to animals is increasing is the RSPCA strategy ineffective?
We would like to see some common sense applied to changes within the RSPCA to make the Society more democratic and the management open to scrutiny.
a) We believe that Regional Representatives should be democratically elected by all the RSPCA members within the regions and that they should resign from branch office on election to Council.
b) We believe that Working Parties are a waste of time and money and just serve to inflate the egos of would be careerist chairmen. Experienced committee members will know that the article on the following page gives valid reasons for our opposition.
c) We want to see the RSPCA set up without further delay low-cost neuter clinics for cats and dogs and to pay more attention to the experience of Celia Hammond.
d) We believe that the Branch Co-ordinator system (or whatever fancy name they now bear) needs reconsidering. We believe them to be unnecessary, underworked and overpaid.
e) We want to see the AGM restored to its former full day length and returned to London, which has direct rail access from all over the country. The AGM is the most important meeting of the year. It is NOT a piddling little meeting to be hidden away in odd places.
Money saved on removal of Branch Co-ordinators and on Working Parties can be used for the purpose it was given
FOR ANIMALS not bureaucracy!!!!!!
you are swimming in treacherous waters. If your IT director simply wants
to purchase a new computer system, he will either make up his own mind or
get a subordinate to produce recommendations. If he sets up a working party
instead, he is buying time, postponing the issue, aiming for a fudge or
indulging in some other nefarious aspect of office politics. You could be
the fall guy for anything that goes wrong.
|2||WORK out why the
WP has been established. The Royal Commission
on Long-Term Care – a grandiose form of WP – was set up to buy time for
the Government and to produce cheap recommendations. It's possibly naive
members were surprised when the Government did not implement their (costly)
proposals – and a bit upset when spin-doctors briefed against them.
|3|| DECIDE what you
want from the experience. If you are a careerist, you want to get the credit
for any successes – so probably want a role as secretary, chair or author
of a report. Arrange things so that you can be largely absent towards the
end if it goes pear-shaped.
|4||TAKE a lower profile
but do more of the work if your priority is to go down a certain route.
’Ensure that you are better briefed than anyone else, particularly at the
beginning,’ says Francis, veteran of many WPs. ’You don’t necessarily want
to be the leader – if you can dominate the leader, you effectively have
|5||BE very wary if
the person who commissioned the WP is always congratulating you on your
sterling work. Many a WP is set up to keep someone potentially troublesome
occupied on a scheme that will never be fulfilled. You may be asked to do
large amounts of research and to report back regularly at other meetings
where the chief Svengali will slap you on the back and tell you how important
your contribution is.
trust your colleagues to be sensible. Lords Jenkins, Franks and Widgery
are just some of the big names who produced ludicrous reports after chairing
WPs. Even the most talented people can produce whitewashes, grotesque fudges
and unworkable proposals.
MATTERS OF SERIOUS CONCERN
I am angry and sickened. I have seen a confused two-day old calf beaten to the ground because it tried to follow its mother when they were separated – for good. I have seen newborn lambs shivering to death in December. I have witnessed the pathetic sight of terrified little calves being shipped abroad to the torture of veal crates – and I have seen the same calves, almost incapable of walking, driven to their squalid deaths with electric goads. This was in the days when farmers took the money and said nothing. And just today, I have received a report of a caring farmer who removed a cow from the field, leaving her newborn calf behind to starve to death.
Juliet Gellatley, Founder and Director of Viva!
"Viva Life" Winter 99/2000
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We do not know how many motions were submitted by members for discussion at the AGM because once again, by order of the Council, a cloud of secrecy has been draped over them. We guess that there must have been more than the 21 sent in last year – 25 perhaps? Once again only four were accepted. ONE THING IS CERTAIN, these motions have to be kept secret because if the unaccented motions were as absurd as the one sent in by Richard Ryder and Eileen Chamberlain, it would make the Council appear even more out of touch and insensitive.
WHY DO COUNCIL MEMBERS. HAVE TO SUBMIT MOTIONS? Are they not content with the perks of free travel and hotel accommodation that they have to take up valuable time from the pitiful 2 1/2 hour AGM? If they have to submit motions why did they reject one from David Mawson which sought to air discussion on a subject of national interest – the closing down of Shamrock Farm?
For those who did not receive the AGM Agenda, here is the motion referred to above.
"That British Farmers be congratulated on leading the world in high standards of animal welfare and that the findings of farm animal welfare science be further publicised by the Society".
Richard Ryder Eileen Chamberlain
Congratulate farmers for allowing their sheep to be exported for cruel and illegal open-air slaughter at the Eid-el-Kabir festival in France?
Congratulate farmers for exporting 1,134,493 LAMBS and sheep to continental abattoirs in 1999?
Congratulate farmers that MAFF had to order the removal of 257 sheep from vehicles at Dover because 15 were dead, 82 unfit and 160 because of overcrowding?
Congratulate farmers that broiler chickens have painful crippling as a result of being made to grow super fast? (’The facts above came from the CIWF magazine Summer 2000)
We have not mentioned the treatment of pigs by farmers. If you want to know contact VIVA! 12 Queen Square Brighton BNl 3FD, Tel 01273 777688
You can have some indication of how farmers think about animals from the present election address of former farmer and RSPCA Council member Mrs. E Burton who said
"I FARMED HILL BEEF’
What a way to describe sentient beings! When challenged she excused this phrase as using "shorthand or technical tams". For living creatures Mrs. Burton? Just meat on a plate?
Another Council candidate, a Mrs. Collingborn said she "was totally responsible for calf rearing" without a mention of what happened to the surplus unwanted male calves.
Do Richard Ryder and Eileen Chamberlain want to congratulate them?
No doubt some feeble excuse will be put forward to explain this motion but due to the Council’s decision to hold the AGM in an out of the way place very, very few members will be there to hear it. We are shocked to see this motion on an RSPCA AGM Agenda.
As for the hunting issue. In 1997, a statement was made by Mrs. Burton and circulated. It said
"I am not opposed to hunting as such I do not agree with the RSPCA ban on fox hunting until such a time that alternative methods of control can be found. I feel that fax hunting is the best method of controlling foxes and that was my view to my own supporters. My husband was the Master of Foxhounds, my grandson has also been Master of Foxhounds, so I know very well what I am talking about ".
In a written response to the question whether her views remained the same Mrs. Burton said
"The statement which was circulated at the 1997 AGM was a sheet of paper containing some selectively edited comments made by me to a hoax caller claiming to be from the Countryman Magazine, but who was in fact attempting to discredit me by altering wherever possible the inference to be put on my remarks. "(2000)
Watchdog has been told that the tape of the conversation with Mrs. Burton still exists and no alterations were made. In a circular letter Mrs. Burton clearly states that she regrets the inordinate amount of both time and resources put into the anti hunting campaign and votes against this. Watchdog believes that the RSPCA should not be selective in fighting against cruelty to animals – cruelty to ALL animals should be prevented Contrary to what Mrs. Burton thinks THE MAJORITY OF PEOPLE in this country are OPPOSED to fox hunting. So why did three members of Council, Mrs. Wightman, Mr. Anyon and Mrs. Fulcher support her election to Council? Mrs. Wightman has said that she is opposed to all hunting which makes her support even more inexplicable. Such support, however, makes nonsense of the RSPCA’s anti hunting campaign. Mrs. Burton has a right to express her views but are those views compatible with a seat on the governing body of a charity dedicated to the prevention of cruelty and the promotion of kindness to animals?
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Watchdog wants the RSPCA to lead the world in the protection of animals. Over 400 years ago Leonardo da Vinci said
"I have from an early age abjured the use of meat and the time will come when men such as I will look upon the murder of animals as they now look upon the murder of men ".
FREEEDOM FOOD and Assured British Meats who will take over the management of the scheme can never achieve the vision of Leonardo da Vinci because farm animals will always end up in the slaughterhouse.
Our report on the AGM and on the election results will be in the next newsletter. We get lots of calls from members all over the country. We are repeatedly told about the very bad conditions for animals in the NE of the country. There is criticism of the enormous amount of bumpf and bureaucracy. Members from all over the country HATE the changing of the AGM venue and want it back in London. One member from Durham pointed out how easy it was to get to London but impossible to get to Telford. Most members beg us not to reveal their names for fear of victimisation. There is always tremendous praise for Celia Hammond and for the youngest Council member David Mawson who takes the trouble to LISTEN. Anyway thanks for all your calls and letters. We would be grateful for help with the cost of postage etc.!!
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