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.
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.