Animal sanctuary aquitted of 26 charges.

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Animal sanctuary aquitted of 26 charges.

Post  Admin on Thu Aug 14, 2014 7:42 pm

By Nigel Weller.

We were recently instructed in a case where are clients faced no less than 31 Charges, contrary to Section 4 and 9 of the AWA2006. After a trial lasting several days she was acquitted of 26 charges and convicted of five. Importantly, she was not disqualified from keeping or looking after animals.


Animal sanctuaries always pose a difficulty for both the enforcement of the law and those who are charged to defend such organisations. Most sanctuaries rely upon charitable donations for funding, volunteers to work for and care for those animals, often dealing with wild animals who have been involved in serious accidents or have been abandoned because of the injuries are to severe or they will cost too much to treat and look after in veterinary bills. However due to a remarkable commitment and total sacrifice and devotion to the welfare of the animals in their care, they provide an invaluable resource to the animals in the world of animal welfare. They basically look after all the rejects which would often suffer long and painful death without their intervention.


This puts them at high risk as far as the RSPCA are concerned as firstly they are competing for charitable money and donations and secondly as they adopt a policy of not refusing to take in animals there is a high risk that they can be accused of not being objective when assessing the future quality of life of the animals they receive. Whenever you visit a sanctuary, by its very nature you will find recent casualties and very sick animals, those animals on the repair and mend, those that are ready for release and the recovered disabled animal who will spend the rest of its life safe at the sanctuary.


This is exactly the picture that this particular sanctuary presented although it was being run by a fully qualified veterinary nurse, who committed spare time and her earnings to the wellbeing of her sanctuary animals. There was considerable evidence that these animals were being treated and were receiving appropriate veterinary care at the time, as at the RSPCA raid an animal welfare officer form the local authority was present and had no serious complaint concerning the way the sanctuary was being run or the way the animals were being kept.


The veterinary surgeon who was called in by the RSPCA found fault not only with the accommodation and care being provided but also with nearly every animal, which is of course what he would find with a sanctuary. As a result all the larger domestic type animals were seized and removed. Curiously, all the wild a animals – which are very difficult to look – after, were left! The veterinary surgeon for the RSPCA only examined the animals in a cursory way and failed to make any notes when identification and the continuity of evidence in multiple animal seizures is vital and can be only normally be achieved with correct identification (all sheep look alike) and note taking. The vet told the court that he had relied upon a video recording being made of all the animals, but this hadn’t happened so his subsequent report was effectively based upon a mixture of notes made by other persons present. The district judge found this to be a major failing by the prosecution, and that he could not be called because of possible doubts as to the accuracy of the veterinary surgeon's memories and recollections.


To the defendant's credit she proved to be an incredibly powerful witness, demonstrating an intimate knowledge of veterinary issues and all the animals which were the subject of the charges, so much so that the District Judge announced in court that he was so impressed with her and her knowledge, such that it could never have been made up, that she was a witness of truth. He therefore accepted everything she said concerning the welfare of these animals.


One has to question the decision to prosecute this case. The RSPCA is an animal charity; can it justfy the vast sum of money spent in prosecuting our client, balanced against the service she provides effectively free of charge? Would the money have been better spent assisting such organisations rather than prosecuting them?

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Animal Sanctuary Acquitted Of 26 Charges

Post  Trilby Bee on Thu Aug 14, 2014 9:06 pm

I do recall this case and I seem to recall that this young woman lost her job as a vet nurse as a result of this, tho' I stand to be corrected. She spent most of her salary on running the place. But we know our lovely friends cannot bear competition from the small rescues in case they get a few quid that they, the Greedy Ones, could have.
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