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RSPCA under attack on TV
Society ‘may have strayed from original purpose’ says MP


THE RSPCA once again graced out TV screens last week, this time on the BBC programme Inside Out, South East edition. Featuring the cases of a farmer, a small holder and two young ladies who, due to what is described as persistent persecution, have lost their jobs, caused a kennel to close and for one, her dog was also seized and put to sleep.

MP Roger Gale was interviewed for the programme and called for an investigation into the running of the RSPCA. The programme revealed that he believes that the Society has strayed from its original purpose of caring for animals and saving them from suffering, to become a political organisation. Mr Gale is not the first MP to make this type of comment, Mr Frank Field also voiced concerns over the prosecutions being brought by the RSPCA.

Earlier in the year Disability Now also reported that vulnerable people were being prosecuted by the RSPCA. It was claimed in the programme that last year the RSPCA had donations made to them of ninety-five million pounds on which seven and half million was spent on private prosecutions.

When asked about these prosecutions Sally Case, head of prosecutions, said that the RSPCA only takes cases it thinks have sufficient evidence of cruelty, suffering or neglect or whatever is considered in the public interest, which is the same as the Crown Prosecution Service. Yet the number of cases disputed by people faced with a prosecution by the RSPCA is twenty-six times greater than that of the CPS. Two solicitors, Mr Nigel Weller and Mr Jeffrey Hide, who have taken on the RSPCA, were interviewed saying that these types of cases are becoming more frequent. Mr Hide described the RSPCA as the animal police. Both solicitors say that the prosecutions being brought against farmers, and pet owners are unfair.

Buster

The final case featured in the programme involved Janet Walker and Maxine Proudler, who both worked at Castle Farm Kennels. Janet owned a rescue dog called Buster, who suddenly dropped in weight and was diagnosed by her vet with pancreatitis and was put on a drip overnight. Janet never saw her dog again.

An RSPCA inspector had been called to view the dog, and it was seized. Janet and Maxine were then informed of the RSPCA’s intention to prosecute, which they could not believe as they were in charge of 30 dogs in the kennels and as Maxine told the programme, “Why would we feed and water thirty dogs and neglect one?” Once word about the prosecution got out the kennels lost business then eventually closed. Janet and Maxine had to find new jobs, but the RSPCA contacted their new employers and after this contact both girls found themselves unemployed again! Janet was filmed in tears describing her terror on being prosecuted by the RSPCA, as she had been told by the inspector that they might, as a result of the prosecution, face a life time ban from keeping any animals, a six month prison sentence and a fine of up to £5,000.

Nigel Weller said that the allegations against the two girls could never have been substantiated, and as a direct result of the RSPCA’s actions, they had lost their jobs. The girls were both cleared by the courts and the Judge severely reprimanded the RSPCA for bringing this prosecution before the court. Maxine, who is qualified in dog care now packs chickens for a living, instead of doing her dream job of working with dogs.

Janet said that for her, life without dogs would not be a life worth living.

Commenting on the prosecutions Nigel Weller told viewers that every time the RSPCA undertakes a prosecution the accused people have their details spread across the media, and this is good for the RSPCA as it does raise funds for them, but for the people concerned it can destroy their lives, as Maxine concluded neither of the two girls feel they will ever live it down and a search on Google reveals all the details of the prosecution. Both girls were seen in the programme with their obviously well cared for pet dogs.