The Times today have covered Channel 4's big exclusive which will be on tonight at 7pm. I've known about this for a few days as I was asked to quote - but as it's embargoed, I couldn't say!
Henry, the head of the RSPCA press office, has been on the blower again this morning saying this isn't really such a big story, honest. Which is exactly what you would expect from a good press officer.
It does all sound terribly thrilling from a journalist's point of view - leaked memos and all that. Sounds a real scoop. But as he points out, in reality the memos just show what's been happening for quite a while. But for some members of the general public, this will be news in itself. Most of the public still think we take stray dogs to the local RSPCA or the police station!
Those in the know are painfully aware that Britain's rescue kennels have been full to overflowing for ages, it's just the public who haven't been privy to it.
Perhaps this story will spread the news that there isn't a queue of people ready to help you should adversity strike. Far from it.
My own experience of trying to help a terminally ill man find a space for his middle-aged, perfectly behaved dog taught me that lesson. He had knocked on every door and been graphic about the fact he was dying and about to go into hospital for the last time. He'd sold his house and all his belongings. He would have probably given the person who solved his problems everything he owned just to make his pet safe. He had no relatives. Yet still there was no one offering to help!
He was just advised to have his lovely dog put to sleep.
(Thankfully, I phoned the Dogs Trust press office and they found him a place - so the guy died happy, but when he had tried their branches he'd been turned away - they were full.)
If the RSPCA are now even less likely to take in animals when someone dies or is evicted - because in future they're trying to keep their kennels empty for cruelty cases, where will these poor unfortunate animals go?
I'm guessing heaven.
The figures show that the RSPCA is currently a significant rehomer - 85,000 animals rehomed in 2008. If there's no longer to be room at their inn, who knows where the overflow is going to go? Henry says most of those animals are part of cruelty cases in any case so there'll be no sudden crisis or change of policy, he says they've 'not had room for people chucking out dogs that don't match the sofa for quite some time'.
It seems clear the RSPCA want to concentrate on enforcement and leave the routine rehoming of plain unwanteds to other charities - but most of those have a lot less money.
Yet as Henry points out, the RSPCA also run a Homes for Life policy, where you can arrange for them to take your dogs after you die. But doesn't that give a mixed message to the mostly elderly people that scheme would appeal to?
Do the public yet grasp enforcement and prosecution is their USP? What about those who have already donated? At the time of donating were these people quite clear where their money was going and what it would be used for?
It's a difficult time for all charities, but those leaked memos are unlikely to increase donations to the RSPCA.
Be interesting to see all the interviews in the Channel 4 item tonight so we can all make our minds up.
We really do need the puppy contract to stop people churning out pups to make ends meet. There are just too many unwanted dogs in Britain already.
BVA response to the article in the Times.
RSPCA press release
And via Twitter the alleged same 'leaked memo' openly on an RSPCA website