Tuesday, 20 April 2010
RSPCA TO TURN ANIMALS AWAY AND FOCUS ON PROSECUTIONS
The RSPCA will turn away stray or unwanted pets from animal shelters from next month to cut costs and focus on policing animal cruelty, according to a memo obtained by Channel 4 News.
The decision could affect as many as 75,000 unwanted animals a year which are currently taken to RSPCA centres across England and Wales.
It comes after the RSPCA admitted that the number of abandoned pets is soaring.
The documents show that from May 4, 17 RSPCA animal centres will only take in animals which are “RSPCA generated”, which means seized by inspectors in cruelty cases or those which are at immediate risk or cruelty.
Pets belonging to people who are taken into hospital, evicted from their homes or are simply unwanted or found as strays will from that date normally be turned away. Unfortunate visitors holding the animal will be told to contact the police, the local council, or a vet.
The move has been criticised by vets and animal lovers who called it a “dereliction of duty”.
Harvey Locke, president-elect of the British Veterinary Association warned if the RSPCA begins turning away animals which are merely unwanted, it could result in even more pets being abandoned.
“I think the concern is that more unwanted pets may be left to fend for themselves, that people will just leave them on the streets or turf them out of their cars on the motorway. I would like to think that that would not happen but that is a risk,” he told Channel 4 News.
The RSPCA defended the decision to phase out the service, saying it had no alternative but to make the change because of financial pressures.
The report will be screen on Channel Four news tonight (tues) 20th April.
The RSPCA is Britain’s eighth largest charity, with an income of £119 million in 2008. The move comes as the organisation is making savings of £54 million over three years, with donations falling due to the recession.
In recent years it has expanded its role as the unofficial animal police, bringing criminal cases against owners for cruelty and neglect.
The charity investigated 140,575 cases in 2008, up from 110,841 three years earlier. It spent £11.1 million on prosecutions in 2008, compared with £7 million in 2007.
The rise is in part the result of the Animal Welfare Act, which came into effect in 2007 and which was strongly supported by the RSPCA, which introduced new offences of failures in animal welfare, rather than just cruelty.