Why is the RSPCA killing so many pets - and taking their loving owners to court?

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Why is the RSPCA killing so many pets - and taking their loving owners to court?

Post  Admin on Sat Aug 16, 2014 9:29 am

.Member of public reported Dilys to RSPCA because her cat had a bad eye
.They said Janet the cat had to be taken away, took her in wire cage
.Then told Dilys she could see Janet one last time before she was put down
.Six months later, she was summoned to court and charged with neglect
.Judge refused to make an ordered for costs of almost £10,000
.This is similar to many cases that appear to have emerged in recent years

When Dilys Hadley answered the door to the RSPCA, she had no reason to suspect there was anything to fear.

The retired teacher had donated to the charity in the past and was a keen supporter of its animal welfare work. So she assumed the man on her doorstep was fundraising.

But what happened next was staggering. The inspector informed her they had received a report from a member of the public that her cat, Janet, was wandering around with an injured eye.

Dilys, 62, said that yes, Janet did have an eye problem, but she was going to the vet after the weekend, when Dilys’s daughter would be there and could help get Janet into her travel basket.

Dilys didn’t think the animal was in any pain, as she was eating and going outside. Unimpressed, the inspector demanded to see the cat. Dilys, from Exmouth, Devon, joked that Janet was having her lunch and wouldn’t want to be disturbed.

The inspector — a trainee, it later emerged — then looked at the cat, who had a swollen eye, and said she had to be taken to a vet immediately. Still believing the charity was helping her, Dilys asked if she could go with Janet, but the inspector refused.

The cat was forced into a wire cage, and Dilys begged for Janet’s travel cushion to be put inside. Again, she was told no.

Janet then began to meow and throw herself around the cage. Dilys asked if her pet could be put in the travel case she was used to, but was threatened with the police unless she stopped interfering.

Frantic with worry, Dilys was left to wait for hours until the inspector phoned to say her cat was all right, although Dilys was not allowed to know where Janet was. Another inspector would be in touch in the next few days, she was told.

‘I was crying my eyes out,’ says Dilys, who at the time was a manager at a sheltered housing scheme for the elderly. ‘From opening the door very innocently, I was suddenly in a nightmare.’

Three days later, a female RSPCA inspector came to interview Dilys. Her 22-year-old daughter sat in on the conversation.

‘It was very odd because the inspector demanded to be seated separately from us, and we had to get her a table,’ recalls Dilys. ‘Then she cautioned me — read me my rights.

‘I couldn’t believe it. It was like The Sweeney. It felt as though she’d transformed my living room into a police station, and I was being treated like a criminal in my own home.

‘When I innocently told her we’d had Janet as a kitten, and she was originally a present for my daughter, the inspector told my daughter that as the legal owner of the cat, she would be charged separately on another occasion for neglecting Janet. She was told to leave the room.’

Confused, bewildered and distraught, mother and daughter were then informed they could see Janet one last time to say goodbye.

They were taken to a vet’s in Exmouth where, according to Dilys, ‘we were treated like muck’.

She says: ‘It was horrendous. Janet was in a cage and called out to us. We were allowed to hold her and cuddle her. And that was it.

‘We were told she had an inoperable tumour behind her eye. They put her down the next day.

‘That cat was like my baby. She used to follow me to the bus stop. She’d be waiting for me under the tree when I got home. For her to end her life like that was heartbreaking.’

The RSPCA showed no mercy, though. Six months later, Dilys and her daughter — a Cambridge University graduate who’d not been living at home with Janet — were summoned to court, where the RSPCA began to prosecute for neglect.

The charity brought charges under the 2006 Animal Welfare Act, which created the offence of failing to take reasonable steps to provide for an animal’s needs.

The Hadleys’ case and its appeals stretched on, leaving the RSPCA with a legal bill of almost £10,000.

Last September, Judge Jeremy Griggs was scathing of the charity for dragging the family through the courts. While finding Dilys technically in breach of the Act, he said he had ‘considerable sympathy’ with her.

The charity had broken an undertaking it gave to Parliament not to use stronger powers under the new legislation against pet owners without giving them a chance to have their animals treated, he added.

Dilys received a conditional discharge with no restriction on keeping animals in the future. Her daughter was acquitted.

The judge refused to make an order for costs of £9,945, as requested by the RSPCA, although Dilys had to make a contribution of £600, which she has only just managed to pay off.

Her ordeal was awful, but it is not an isolated case. More stories are emerging of the RSPCA forcibly taking beloved pets and destroying them against the owners’ wishes, then pursuing the owners with charges of cruelty.

Only this week, the Byrnes family from Hertfordshire told of their horror that their 16-year-old cat Claude was put down. Richard Byrnes, his wife Samantha and their children Eloise and Dominic, suffered a year of trauma after an RSPCA inspector seized Claude from their home, claiming he was too thin and had matted fur.

Despite explaining that the cat was old and refused to have his fur brushed, they were threatened with prison unless they had him put down.

The RSPCA then issued proceedings for cruelty, which saw Richard, an accountant at Transport for London, dragged to court. Last week, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) ruled there was not enough evidence, and the case was dismissed.

The Byrnes hit out at the RSPCA for its ‘bullying tactics’ — an increasingly common complaint.

But most shocking of all is the scale of its euthanasia. Statistics show the charity is now destroying almost half of the animals it has contact with. The RSPCA has also wrongly picked on the elderly, sick or mentally impaired — the very people who most need their pets for comfort and companionship.

Julie Nadian, a 48-year-old autistic woman, found herself targeted when she rejected a vet’s opinion that her elderly cat Ziggy had to be put down. In May last year, the RSPCA hauled all three of her cats away.
The charges against her were dropped when she called in the CPS to examine the case.

Diane and Dean Webb were not so fortunate. The couple never saw any of their 33 show cats and kittens again after the RSPCA raided their home in Barrow upon Trent, Derbyshire, and prosecuted them for neglecting the animals — charges a judge rejected.

The couple were forced to move abroad after receiving death threats on the internet.

Now back in Britain, they have not had a single cat returned — despite being acquitted on all charges. It’s thought the animals have been rehomed.

The RSPCA seems all too happy to prosecute children, too. In 2011, Tracey Johnson and her daughter Sophie, 16, were charged with cruelty after leaving five cocker spaniel puppies in their back garden while they went shopping. It started to rain, and a neighbour called the RSPCA.

Mother and daughter found themselves in the dock, although the case was dismissed and the judge said prosecuting a child who had little involvement with the animals was ‘totally inappropriate’.

If you scratch the surface of the many RSPCA prosecutions going through our courts each month — there were 1,548 people prosecuted last year, resulting in 3,961 convictions — you will find dozens of shocking tales of the charity appearing to act out of all proportion.

In another case that raises serious questions, 42 Rhodesian Ridgeback dogs and two Swedish dogs were seized from the Essex home of Deborah Fuller by RSPCA inspectors last year.

Deborah, 54, a dog breeder and qualified show judge, was bundled into the back of a police car and spent nine hours in a cell, accused of neglect, while her home and kennels were raided. Many of the dogs on her seven-and-a-half acre plot had arrived as rescue animals.

All were taken away by the charity after the council used a warrant to search the property on environmental health grounds following a noise and nuisance complaint by a neighbour.

Deborah readily admits that she had taken on too many animals and was in the process of finding homes for a lot of them. But she vehemently disputes that they were not properly cared for.

After a costly court case, she was acquitted of all charges in June, when it emerged the search warrant did not allow the RSPCA to check the dogs’ condition. But she has not even seen her animals since they were seized.

Deborah suspects that at least three have been put down because of age or alleged illnesses.

When I asked the RSPCA what had happened to the 44 animals, it refused to comment on the case, but Ms Fuller says she has received a letter saying the organisation is seeking a judicial review of her acquittal.

A spokesman for the RSPCA said: ‘Rather than comment on a series of individual cases, we can confirm that our approach to prosecution decisions is the same in all cases — namely that before proceedings can be instituted, we must be satisfied there is sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction, and that it is in the public interest to prosecute.’

Interestingly, he added: ‘Where suspected offences are detected, RSPCA inspectors are required under statutory codes to advise suspects about their right to silence, to seek legal advice and to ask our inspector to leave.’

Meanwhile, Deborah’s life is on hold while she is denied any information about her dogs.

And Dilys Hadley has had to stop working with the elderly because her background checks now bring up a criminal history — as she was found technically in breach of the law.

‘To be an animal lover like me and be told you are an animal abuser is psychologically very disturbing,’ she says. ‘It has left me with serious depression. I’ve been criminalised.

‘This took up weeks of court time and cost the taxpayer thousands.

‘There is something radically wrong with the RSPCA. They are not the organisation I used to support. They walk all over people and don’t care about animals.’

There are many theories as to why the charity acts as it does. But the main problem seems to be the type of people now running it — who include extreme animal rights activists.

Take Dr Richard Ryder, a former director of the militant Political Animal Lobby, who is a member of the RSPCA’s ruling council.

He has suggested that animals are morally identical to human beings so should never be used for food, clothing — or enjoyment.

He thinks people who disagree are guilty of ‘speciesism’, which he compares to racism and sexism.

Since February, the RSPCA has been rudderless — following the resignation of chief executive Gavin Grant due to ill health.

It is the only charity that brings private prosecutions. All others, including the NSPCC and RSPB, have given up, since the formation of the CPS in 1986.

Crucially, the RSPCA was forced to instigate an independent review of its prosecutions policy last year following intense criticism, including from the Attorney General. A report on the review was due this spring. There is still no sign of it.

All of this is a great shame because when the charity sticks to the core principles it was founded on — to help animals in need — it does very popular work.

We are a nation of animal lovers and last year Britons made well over a million calls to the RSPCA’s 24-hour cruelty hotline.

Its rescue centres took in tens of thousands of abandoned and needy creatures, including horses, dogs and cats.

Every year, the charity receives millions of pounds worth of donations from ordinary people, although these have fallen sharply in recent years.
Critics say the downturn started when the RSPCA began wading into political controversies, such as fox hunting and the badger cull, and because of the row over its prosecutions policy.

The latest accounts posted by the RSPCA show cash receipts down from £112.4 million in 2012 to £105.4 million in 2013.

The cash from legacies was down £5.7 million, while individual gifts fell by £1.2 million. Money from membership fees fell from £590,000 to £556,000.

Sara-Lise Howe, a barrister who has defended pet owners in recent court cases, is in no doubt that urgent action is needed.

‘We are seeing the criminalisation of innocent pet owners,’ she says.

‘From the moment the investigators arrive on the doorstep, the owners are treated as criminals, and their rights ignored.

‘The police wouldn’t be able to get access like this.

‘The RSPCA comes to the door on the basis that it is helping, but then starts gathering evidence without telling householders they have the right to tell the inspector to leave.’

As a result, the Byrnes family, Dilys Hadley and countless others who’ve had their beloved pets summarily put down, are left wishing they’d simply slammed the door when the inspector came calling.


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Why Is RSPCA Killing So Many Pets...

Post  Trilby Bee on Mon Aug 18, 2014 9:56 pm

They never learn from their mistakes...and the money coughed up by the taxpayer is a scandal. The reason they never saw the 33 pedigree cats is that they would charge a few quid extra for them...if they had been moggies they'd have been murdered.

And it seems a bit unfair that Dilys had to give up her job since she got a conditional discharge and no ban on keeping animals.
Trilby Bee

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