Updated February 21 2004



The truth behind the public smile

In recent years we have become somewhat disenchanted with an old and much-loved British institution, the RSPCA (Royal Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). Things reached a head a few years ago when this august organisation decided to prosecute a friend of ours who owns a pet shop for cruelty to a kitten. In fact he had taken the kitten back (which he was not obliged to do) after having sold it, and while in his care the kitten sadly died of a blood disorder. A completely biased and vicious report on our friend's court appearance (where he was only pleading, not having his case heard) appeared in the local free paper, in which the RSPCA used the article basically to tell people to buy cats from them rather than pet shops.

The case itself was interesting inasmuch as when it came to court, it was thrown out. While I am awaiting a full report, I understand that one of the reasons it was lost by the RSPCA was that they had destroyed the evidence, in this case the body of the kitten. Unbelievably, about a month before the hearing, our friend's solicitor was told this only after he suggested that the kitten have an independent autopsy. Does that sound a little suspicious? The most charitable thing you can do is to attribute it to bureaucratic incompetence rather than an attempt to cover somebody's tracks. But there was a strange postscript to this story. After my friend was cleared he phoned up the free paper mentioned above to understandably ask them to publish the fact. He was told not to worry about it, the RSPCA had made an appointment to see them about the case - an appointment made before the case had been heard!

Up to that point I had always been a little sceptical of the charge, often levelled at charities, that the RSPCA were just in it for the money, or for the power, or wanted to eliminate all pet shops. But having heard other things from several sources, I am now very troubled by the way that the organisation goes about its business.

Please read the articles in the links below. I believe you will be equally troubled. Much of the material in these links was contributed by animal lovers and existing or ex-RSPCA members.

On this site

Letter from the RSPCA to all local governments, stating explicitly their aim of eventually eliminating the sale of animals from pet shops.

Another RSPCA letter pushing their 2002 report, Morbidity and Mortality. This report was commissioned to two German women of the organisation "ProWildlife". The report itself was rubbished by the German scientific establishment, many of whom are members of the German herpetological organisation DGHT, and was then trashed by the Scientific Review Group of the European Commission itself.

The EU CITES Scientific Review Group comments on "Morbidity and Mortality"

External sites

RSPCA Members' Watchdog - Internet site run by members of the RSPCA questioning some of the RSPCA Council's methods.

The RSPCA Animadversion site - a collection of links to several serious pages revealing darker facets of the RSPCA's operations, aims and objectives. In particular please read the first article on the page, "The Enforcers".

The Smart/Bride report - many years before the RSPCA commissioned the hopeless "Morbidity and Mortality" report (see above), the charity commissioned two proper scientists, Andrew C Smart and Ian G Bride of the Durrell Institute, to carry out research into the trade in reptiles and amphibians in the UK. Evidently the RSPCA didn't care much for its conclusions, because they buried the report afterwards and it has only recently come to light. You can read it (and its generally pro-trade conclusions, as well as its critical remarks on some of the work by Clifford Warwick) by visiting the above link.

WHO RUNS THE RSPCA? A spotlight on the Ruling Council

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