The Charities Commission has warned the RSPCA that its prosecutions of hunts must be “cost-effective”
The warning follows the charity’s successful prosecution of David Cameron’s local hunt, the Oxfordshire Heythrop, for a reported cost of £326,000 from the RSPCA’s reserves of £100 million.
The warning follows complaints to the Commission from Cameron acolytes Lord Heseltine and MP Simon Hart, a former chief executive of the Countryside Alliance, the sad PR machine supporting blood sports for commercial reasons.
A cull of Britain’s badgers, based on the claim by farmers that it will halt the spread of TB in cattle, is being piloted in west Gloucestershire and west Somerset, with farmers given licence to shoot them by the government’s Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.(DEFRA) If the cull does stop the spread of TB then it will be extended to other areas of the UK.
Opposing the cull the RSPCA is urging consumers to boycott milk from west Somerset and Gloucestershire farmers and to avoid visiting and thereby commercially supporting the areas.
The National Farmers Union (NFU) claims that unless it’s members were allowed to kill badgers the price of milk would go up, the same argument as used by the farming fraternity to defend factory farming.
Meanwhile the cruelty suffered by farm-reared ducks deprived of any access to water, around two-thirds of them currently, is also giving the RSPCA cause for concern.
There are no legal requirements for ducks , which are water fowl, to be given open water to bathe in, and neither the British Poultry Council nor the National Farmers Union have sensibly made this a stipulation for humanely rearing the birds.
In a recent YouGov survey of 2,212 people more than 80% said that they had never thought about how farmed ducks were reared, and 80% that they agreed with the statement “I am appalled that ducks farmed for their meat never get access to bathing water”.
A farmer in Wansford, Cheshire has been banned from keeping animals for life after the RSPCA found 120 cockerels on his smallholding with evidence that they were being kept for cockfighting. Also found were metal spurs and animal fight DVDs.
Raymond Weedall, 62, was found guilty of ten counts of animal mistreatment and received a series of suspended jail sentences, a six month curfew and 150 hours community service.
Meanwhile the RSPCA has said its finances are at breaking point following a slump in money left in wills and a rise in the number of cruelty cases taken to court.
More than 2,100 people were prosecuted last year for mistreating dogs, a rise of 22%, and more than 1,300 for cruelty to other animals, a rise of 23.5%. Around 1,100 were banned from owning pets and 71 received jail sentences.
About £59 million was left to the charity in 2010, down 20% on 2009. Despite a small rise in donations from the public the charity still received a total income of £115 million in 2010, £15 million down on 2009.
Following a prosecution by the RSPCA a dog trainer who won dozens of honours from Crufts was banned from keeping animals for life after a raid by the charity revealed hundreds of animals in “unbelievable” squalor at her kennels.
Rachel Mortimore, 47, also received 140 hours of community service and was a member of the British Institute of Professional Dog Trainers.
A former gamekeeper has been jailed for sixteen weeks for filming a fox, which had its mouth bound and was being held down by the neck, being attacked by two dogs.
Stephen Metcalfe, 32, of West Burton, North Yorks told the police “I didn’t think it was wrong – it’s just a dog killing a fox. It’s vermin”, and refused to name the two friends he’d filmed torturing the fox. He was also banned from keeping dogs for ten years. The case was brought by the RSPCA.
The RSPCA has finally decided that breeding animals for their looks, rather than their health or welfare is cruel and morally unjustifiable, and has accordingly withdrawn its support for Crufts.
Its new position on the issue follows a BBC documentary Pedigree Dogs Exposed which highlighted the medical problems faced by a number of breeds. These included the Cavalier King Charles spaniel which commonly has heart problems and an agonising condition caused by its skull being too small for its brain. Also suffering heart problems is the boxer which additionally has a very high rate of cancer, particularly brain tumours. Bulldogs, reportedly cannot mate without help, or give birth naturally and Bassett hounds, bred for long ears, a very low-slung belly and skin folds on legs often suffer arthritis. Continue reading