Royal Society for the Protection of Capital Assets
Time and time again, those who might believe that animal welfare is protected by the RSPCA have been let down. Cases where the RSPCA could have taken a lead have been either completely ignored, or worse investigated, with a decision to drop the case with no further litigation.
Evidence? Proof? Well, just a few instances for you.
Burnside Farm, Heddon on the Wall. Reports of pig carcasses left with live animals and cannibalism of new-born piglets were made repeatedly, but the officials found no definite evidence and not much of a welcome. In fact, the RSPCA left this one to Trading Standards. Two months after Trading Standards initial involvement, Burnside Farm gained notoriety as the farm where Foot and Mouth allegedly began. Most experts disagree after having found evidence that lesions on animals at the farm were older than previously thought.
Gilwern, Monmouthshire. A slaughterman is filmed by an elderly couple chasing sheep around a field, taking potshots with an underpowered rifle. Several sheep are shot repeatedly, some of the sheep experiencing a great deal of suffering before being finally killed. A member of the public decided to take out a private prosecution against the slaughterman, but was persuaded by the RSPCA that they would like to prosecute. 6 months later, to the date, the RSPCA then informed all interested parties that they were not going to proceed, despite expert evidence that the sheep suffered.
Chris Graham, a sheep farmer in North Yorkshire. A part of his statement to the RSPCA reveals that sheep were regaining consciousness half an hour later after having been stunned with a captive bolt gun, to then be poked in the eye with a knife to check for life, and then having their throats cut to drown in their own blood. The lambs on his farm were shot with captive bolt, which is clearly against guidelines, as the captive bolt is not designed for use on lambs. If captive bolt is used on young lambs, it will cause the bottom jaw of the lamb to be blown clean off the animal and cause extreme suffering.
Once again, the RSCPA investigated the evidence, but 6 months later dropped the case with no further action.
This Sunday, March 17th 2002, a senior Government Minister, Lord Carter, who advises the Lords as an Agricultural Spokesman and speaks on Animal Welfare was found to have a third ownership in two pig farms consistently flouting animal welfare regulations. The pigs there were illegally kept in sow stalls longer than the period of hours advised, in some cases months, and were kept in units where they were denied water and ventilation. These units, ‘sweat boxes’, were kept deliberately and illegally hot to speed the fattening process, causing the death of 60 sows one evening due to heat exhaustion/asphyxiation. Some sick pigs were beaten to death with iron bars, or had their heads swung against a brick wall, according to sworn statements. The response of the RSPCA? A spokesman for the RSPCA confirmed it had been notified of alleged offences last summer but said it took no action after hearing that state vets and council officers had already visited and found nothing wrong.
Have you heard of one case brought to the courts by the RSPCA on cruelty during the Foot and Mouth crisis last year? Well, although there were over 3500 reports of cruelty during the period to the RSPCA, not one case has reached the courts.
The reason? Well, trying to get the RSPCA to admit it publicly would rather like getting Tony Blair to allow a public enquiry into Foot and Mouth, but privately the RSPCA will admit to not having full independence because of their charitable status.
Even though there are animal welfare laws in this country, these are largely ineffective. There were many instances where animals in the Foot and Mouth epidemic last year were found to still be alive after having been loaded onto a slaughter wagon to be taken to a disposal site. Some of these instances were witnessed by RSPCA officials who will freely admit they were ‘outraged’ or ‘horrified’.
It is about time that we had a better method of protecting animals than some official vacuously stating that cruelty took place. Perhaps Charles Bronson in those vigilante movies was right? Or is the RSPCA about to bring a case which will set to rights all of those instances of cruelty last year. I doubt it.