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Moobli
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16-11-2016, 11:31 AM

Should the RSPCA be stripped of powers to prosecute cases of animal cruelty?

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016...ses-of-animal/

The RSPCA is “targeting vulnerable, ill and elderly” people and removing their pets, and should be stripped of its powers to prosecute cases of animal cruelty, an MPs report has found.

The MPs on an influential House of Commons select committee said that the RSPCA’s hounding of pet owners over animal cruelty had “damaged its reputation”.

However the charity said it would continue prosecuting cases of cruelty – putting it on a collision course with Parliament and ministers, if they agree with the committee’s findings.

Last night, senior a former Conservative government law officer threatened to back a law to strip the RSPCA of its right to prosecute cases of animal cruelty.

Sir Edward Garnier, a former Conservative Solicitor general, said: “It would be much safer if we have a clean break and put the prosecutions in the hands of the CPS, rather than in the RSPCA.

“If it requires legislation then the government should introduce the legislation as soon as possible.”

Simon Hart, a Tory member of the committee and former chief executive of the Countryside Alliance, added the RSPCA now believed it was “untouchable”.

The committee also recommended that the maximum penalty for animal welfare crimes should be increased to five years.

It also called for a ban on the third party sale of dogs, so that they are only available from licensed, regulated breeders or approved rehoming organisations.

The RSPCA, one of the world’s oldest animal welfare charities, has been heavily criticised for the way it has investigated and prosecuted cases of animal cruelty and fox hunting.

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee said there was a “conflict of interest” in the charity’s role in bringing forward private prosecutions as well as investigating cases, campaigning and fundraising.

The committee called on ministers to change the law so that the RSPCA would continue to investigate animal welfare cases but then pass their findings to the Crown Prosecution Service or another body to carry out this role.

If there were no statutory alternatives and where a prosecution would further its charitable objectives, the RSPCA could still bring a prosecution in England and Wales, the committee said.

Tory MP and committee chairman Neil Parish admitted that “the RSPCA does important working investigating animal welfare cases.”

But he added: "The committee is not convinced, however, that the RSPCA is in a better position than the Crown Prosecution Service when it comes to prosecuting animal welfare cases.

The committee highlighted evidence from the Self-Help Group for farmers, pet owners and others experiencing problems with the RSPCA, which said the animal-keeping public felt alienated by the charity’s “targeting of vulnerable, ill or elderly people” and the removal of their animals.

There had been occasions when RSPCA inspectors allowed vets to sign for the removal of animals without seeing the animal in question, although the charity recently issued guidance to stop this happening in future.

The RSPCA prosecuted the Heythrop Hunt, former prime minister David Cameron’s local hunt, at the end of 2012 with success only coming after huge sums were spent, and attracted negative publicity for its failed prosecution of a family for alleged cruelty to its cat.

Jeremy Cooper, the RSPCA’s chief executive, said nine out of 10 members of the public back the charity’s prosecutions’ policy.

Mr Cooper said: “This recommendation is not supported by the Government, vets, other major animal welfare charities, and local authorities, and flies in the face of the majority of evidence put before the committee.

“We will consider this report carefully while we will continue to prosecute those who starve, beat, stab, burn and abuse animals.

“For us the key test will be if the recommendation improves animal welfare and we suspect the answer in this case would probably be no.”
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Trouble
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16-11-2016, 11:40 AM
I read this the other day and tbh it just highlights the Governments total lack of understanding in the issues of animals. They want to ban 3rd party sales of dogs, why only dogs? So Puppy farms are licensed and can freely trade but selling a dog on would be banned. Well pardon me for being a cynic but I've taken on rehomes, some for free and some paid for and the sellers were all streets ahead of some cr@ppy puppy farm.
Does the Rspca need regulating? No doubt but not convinced the Government are the people to do it. They certainly need a change of direction but that could come from within.
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tawneywolf
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16-11-2016, 02:32 PM
I was thinking the same about the dogs. I have taken back puppies, sorted them out and re-homed them. Never taken any money for them, but sometimes an owner will ask me to help them rehome their dog due to losing their home (in one case) and various other causes. So I have done this for them, advertised and vetted the responses and passed the ones I felt were decent people onto the owner, and money has changed hands. As lots of shelters are full to bursting already, what happens then, the poor dog may well be pts, going by RSPCA's already tarnished reputation.
How some places get a licence to 'breed' puppies is beyond my comprehension, how can a litter bred in a clean environment with their family, all its needs attended to and looked after properly, be wrong when you have poor bitches being bred back to back with no care for their health or the ultimate fate of the puppies they produce on a far too regular basis
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Trouble
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16-11-2016, 02:48 PM
Clearly councils can't cope with all the checks they should carry out before granting licences as it is. I was so shocked when I saw a licence granted for 100 breeding bitches, quite clearly and obviously a huge puppy farm, shouldn't they be trying to stamp them out rather than telling us they're licenced so must be fab when we all know different.
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Besoeker
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16-11-2016, 02:59 PM
If the RSPCA doesn't prosecute for cases of cruelty to animals who will?
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Trouble
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16-11-2016, 03:05 PM
The CPS, who can't cope as it is.
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Gnasher
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16-11-2016, 03:29 PM
My personal opinion of the RSPCA is that they come from a baseline of first and foremost a desire to ensure that no animal suffers at the hands of cruel humans. There is no doubt in my mind whatsoever that every RSPCA officer cares deeply about animals and wants to alleviate the suffering of any animal that they are called out to inspect. However, the basic problems are these:-

1. The RSPCA take the view that as long as a farm animal (and horses count as farm animals, not pets) has food and water, then the fact that they may have no shelter - either from inclement weather or sun - their hooves may be overgrown, they may be lame, have fly strike, whatever it may be, then there is no case of cruelty to account for. The number of horses and donkeys I have reported to the RSPCA with grossly overgrown heels, such that they were walking down on them, rugs that have not been removed in months and months and could potentially be creating huge pressure sores, horses with their tails completely solid with burrs, chronically lame horses, the list is endless - and all the RSPCA do is send an officer round and if the horse has access to food and water - however filthy or scant that may be - then no action can be taken against the owners.

In the case of pets, the rules are more stringent, which makes my blood boil. Every animal, whether it be a cow, a sheep or a horse, deserves to have a reasonable quality of life, not just food and water.

This is not the RSPCA's fault, it is the law that needs changing but I feel strongly that organisations such as the RSPCA should be fighting harder for animal rights across the board, not just pets.
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Moobli
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16-11-2016, 03:30 PM
I wonder at the motives behind this story.

I would be inclined to think that the RSPCA (or some other animal welfare organisation) should be given more powers rather than less. As Trouble said, the CPS are an already under-funded, stretched organisation.

I do like the idea of harsher penalties for animal cruelty and welfare prosecutions but think that could be incorporated into the work of the RSPCA.
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Moobli
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16-11-2016, 03:37 PM
I also think it is entirely unrealistic for a ban on the third party sale of dogs.
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Trouble
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16-11-2016, 03:38 PM
Well they have a new boss so hopefully things will start to change.

http://metro.co.uk/2016/05/14/new-rs...s-way-5881091/
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