Wednesday, 21 April 2010

RSPCA announcement reaction

You can still see the Channel 4 piece on the RSPCA on  catch-up - it's the fourth story down.
Looking at Twitter immediately afterwards and searching on  'RSPCA' the reaction from the general public seemed to be total shock at just how much money the RSPCA is sitting on! And how much they cost to run and just how huge and glitzy their offices are.
And as this was news to them, the idea that the charity is now cutting seemingly vital services obviously jarred.
People were very shocked that the RSPCA are distancing themselves from rehoming. They'll obviously still rehome animals involved in court cases, and they're still pushing the Home for Life scheme for elderly people planning their wills etc.
But far from the RSPCA just turning their back on fickle people giving up their pets on a whim, the glimpse on the film clip of the leaked documents showed that the advice to staff if presented with impossible to avoid situations - for example when someone with pets has died suddenly or is taken into care - is for them to advise people to call the police or local authority!
The new policy starts on May 4th but in reality many of the centres have already started turning more pets away to keep the kennels free for prosecution cases. I notice in today's papers other charities saying not to worry, they'll keep taking in unwanted pets. But my experience is getting any of the big charities to take a normal average homeless dog (ie not a PR friendly sob story or an ultra cute unusual pedigree or pup) is as difficult as getting your kids into Eton!

Just after I published the above the RSPCA press office put this on Twitter... 

#RSPCA #animals in need policy has been grossly misreported. For the facts - including the "leaked memo" ... http://bit.ly/b4rMQ9

But, if you check their version of the 'leaked memo' against the documents shown on the Channel 4 clip  the crib sheet showing where to refer callers to isn't included. I haven't seen the paperwork the Channel 4 news crew received, it wasn't from my source, so can't comment. But grossly misreported? Bit strong! Perhaps there's something elsewhere I've not seen. Uncomfortable, yes.

Stop Press
When a call came in just a few moments again from an RSPCA branch I was ready to take a pasting. The central press office stance today has been very bullish and defensive on Twitter.
But I was amazed when the lady straight away confirmed that she "agreed with every word I said on Channel 4 last night." She even said she was cheering me on her sofa.
It seems the branches aren't at all happy with head office and where possible will be continuing as before. They're very worried that the central stance will mean the branches will struggle to get funding. (Branches have to pay the RSPCA to use their name and have to raise their own funds.)
I promised her I'd put a word in for the RSPCA branches and give them some moral support. I've certainly found the branches to be wonderful - just wish the RSPCA would reform its structure so the public can have a clearer idea of what it is they do. It seems if you back rehoming - donate to your branch. If you want enforcement - give to the generic central RSPCA. I am sure this subtle difference is not at all clear to the wonderful old ladies who leave their money to the ancient charity.

and just in:


RESPONSE TO ARTICLE “RSPCA WILL REJECT UNWANTED PETS TO CUT COSTS”–

Chris Pope, Chairman of Bath Cats and Dogs Home, says: “We have spent the last 70 years caring for local animals in need. We operate independently of the RSPCA and therefore decide our own priorities. I would like to assure our supporters that it’s very much business as usual as we continue to rescue unwanted pets, not just from our local area but from other parts of the UK.”

Although a branch of the national RSPCA, Bath Cats and Dogs Home is a totally independent, self-funding charity that does not receive financial support from the organisation. We are not eligible for funding from the Lottery or Government and rely totally upon the generosity of individuals’ donations; sponsorship; fundraising and legacies to secure the huge £1.2m, that’s £3,000 a day, required every year just to keep us running.

Thanks to our independent status, Bath Cats and Dogs Home will not be adopting the RSPCA’s recent proposals. Our Policy is to continue the rescue, re-habilitatation and re-homing work caring for as many unwanted pets as we are able; work we started 70 years ago.

Bath Cats and Dogs Home was the first centre in the UK to pioneer a non-destruction policy, which continues to underpin our work today.

As one of the Society’s most successful re-homing centres in the UK, we provide essential shelter, veterinary care, re-homing and re-habilitation services to more than 3,000 dogs, cats and small animals each year and we re-home more than two thousand animals annually. This figure includes rabbits; ferrets; rats; guinea pigs; hamsters and battery hens.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think people who are in the dog-world or rehoming world know that the RSPCA have not been taking in many 'normal' cases - people moving into rented & not being able to take pets, people emigrating etcetc, for a while now. But it is good for this to be out in the public eye.
I am confused by the crib-sheet shown last night - saying they should refer people to the police. The RSPCA will know that for the past couple of years (2008?) the Police no longer handle anything to do with dogs - abandoned/stray etc. It made me wonder if that crib sheet was one from many years ago??

As our local RSPCA rehoming centres are largly independent - having to raise their own funds (as the Direct Debit funds dont go to them), could they not be given the option to run themselves? So the rehoming centres stay rehoming centres for the public and these 'normal' cases. The main RSPCA (the corporation as my husband likes to call them!) could keep some kennels for themselves for the court cases, and then the rehoming centres would become effectively a subsidiary of the Corporation?

cambstreasurer said...

"(Branches have to pay the RSPCA to use their name and have to raise their own funds.)"

is a bit misleading. The "branch quota" was originally levied to pay the wages of a trained inspector to do animal welfare enforcement within the branch area. Nowadays the inspectors are paid by the National Society and branches put an annual amount into their local Regional Fund (branch group) which is used to support branch projects within that Region. HQ match fund this amount, so I for one am not feeling hard done by.

We also get an annual grant of £12-14k

The main reason why branches go on about having to raise our own funds is that most of us have had previous bad experiences.

Many years ago when I was very new I organised a street collection and could have cried when one of my collectors told all the others not to bother as all the money would just be sent to Horsham and the RSPCA had plenty already.

From a purely personal viewpoint my experience of "RSPCA generated" so far has been that it's taking off a huge amount of pressure to accommodate animals using funds I don't have because it means some of the injured strays can be placed in my closest HQ animal shelter.

ScotchEgg said...

local branch= hardworking animal lovers

national branch= power hungry d-list politicians

cambstreasurer said...

Finally managed to view the whole thing on catch up and I have to say I was horrified by the entire lack of concern the program makers seemed to feel for the animals who will either be put down or just left to continuing neglect if they are not prioritised. RSPCA Manchester have a soul-searching piece about the plight of dogs like this who are not cute and cuddly.

Anonymous said...

Cambstreasure says "have to say I was horrified by the entire lack of concern the program makers seemed to feel for the animals who will either be put down or just left to continuing neglect if they are not prioritised" but the RSPCA have no regard either as they will put ahead of the welfare of animals the new (and not needed) HO, a head vet who courts the newspapers and TV more than actually spend time treating animals, a legal team who are paid better than most City Law firms, a campaigns dept who think they have a budget to do as they please and a CEO who want to regain their political career as the expense of real animal needs and a executive council who are so out of touch with any actual animal and/or owners needs who are the most undemocratic of all the animal charities in the way they are elected with out having to take any account for their decision....... other than plead for more money to waste. Remember the Tax pay funds this charity, and before you jump up and down saying its all on donation, under the tax relief giving scheme and tax free inheritance system the RSPCA get more than a third of it income in this way, and yet they have no accountability to the other tax payers who fund this!!

cambstreasurer said...

Yet, without the RSPCA's campaigning activities there would be no animal welfare laws.

This was a cleverly malicious program timed to cause maximum damage to RSPCA branches and to present a completely false impression that the enforcement work of the inspectorate is something new.

Anonymous said...

Cambtreasure says "Yet, without the RSPCA's campaigning activities there would be NO animal welfare laws." Gosh!!! the RSPCA do seem to have over inflated impression of themselves that THEY ARE THE ONLY ONES to can either influence or produce animal welfare laws in this country, goodness only know what all the other Canine & Feline charities, the Kennel Club, the BVA, DEFRA, and RCVS must feel when the RSPCA take such a view that they are all worthless in comparison!! ......perhaps this explains why they don’t like ANY of their finance or animal welfare records looked at let alone criticised, will their stance on shooting dogs with bolts in the head soon be the only legal way to destroy dogs under laws as it is now THEIR preferred method, after all “THEY ARE THE ONLY ONES to can either influence or produce animal welfare laws in this country”

Anonymous said...

I agree with anonymous. Having volunteered and worked for a large London animal rehoming centre, they regularly received animals brought in from the RSPCA as well as local authority wardens. However, we do need an organisation to help police animal cruelty which is something local rehoming centres are unable to do. Meantime it is also vital that people are educated not to think of animals as just another object to be disposed of when it has gone out of fashion or the going gets tough.

Anonymous said...

on the 16 of April Jemima Harrison said "The RSPCA actually rehomes more animals in the UK (all animals that is, not just dogs) in the UK than any other charity - so for all their faults, they most definitely are a rehoming charity." well like most of the things she says,it seems it wasnt long before she was proved just how wrong she is....... and on this occasion by the RSPCA themselves!!!

Nicola said...

Most of us are aware how many animals the RSPCA inspectors are forced to euthanase every single day because their rehoming centres are always full. The same problem occurs in their hospitals, thousands of dogs and cats euthanase because they can’t get them into their own rehoming centres. I for one am glad they have this new policy in place.

Nicola said...

Most of us are aware how many animals the RSPCA inspectors are forced to euthanase every single day because their rehoming centres are always full. The same problem occurs in their hospitals, thousands of dogs and cats euthanase because they can’t get them into their own rehoming centres. I for one am glad they have this new policy in place.

cambstreasurer said...

But we ARE still rehoming dogs (and other animals)! What is being objected to is a decision that the RSPCA has an obligation to give priority to the animals in greatest need and who don't have owners who are capable of taking action themselves to look for new homes.

Nicola said...

Anonymous, Jemima Harrison was correct, the RSPCA have and still do rehome animals. At lest now the animals abandoned at their hospitals and those signed over to inspectors will have a better chance of survival.

Anonymous said...

NIcola would that be the lucky animals that are handed over to trigger happy bolt wealding inspectors?

Nicola said...

Anonymous, hopefully now with this policy in place their centres won't be so over run that they can help dogs like those poor German Shepherds.

Anonymous said...

So Nicola are you now saying the only reason they didnt keep alive/help those GSDs before was due to not enough money? perhaps the £15 million spent on the new HO would of been better used by the area branches to repair the kennels?

Nicola said...

Anonymous, where did you get that idea?? No, the RSPCA rehoming centers are always full to the brim, one of the main reasons those GSDs couldn't be helped. They had no where for them to go. Before you suggest they should have been refered to other rescues, they were, and no one was able to help becuase they too are struggling with too many dogs and not enough space.

Anonymous said...

If this argument is going to go back to the gsd story from some months ago, can we focus on the real problem. Not that they were put down - it was the manner in which they were despatched that was despicable.
Emma

Anonymous said...

I think Gordon Brown would make and ideal "honest" spokesman for the RSPCA .....as it seems he soon might need a new job, and he is use to saying one thin in public and another in private....just like the RSPCA