Proactive Animal Charities Under Attack.

Why do we lash out at those trying to help animals?

Battery farm battery chickens, cruelty to chickens, hens
Pro-active charities like PETA and the RSPCA concentrate on major cruelty and animal suffering issues.

Proactive animal charities which concentrate on abject cruelty issues are increasingly coming under attack by organisations and groups who wish to maintain the status quo in regard to using and abusing animals. The charities that are targeted tend to be those and whose aims and actions become a nuisance and interfere with people’s pastimes, sports and hobbies.

Proactive charities spend large sums politicking, prosecuting cruelty, crusading, campaigning and educating and on some occasions taking direct action. By doing this they bizarrely attract  excessive criticism and condemnation. Detractors criticise them for spending too much money on these activities rather than rescuing individual dogs and cats even though they often manage to achieve long-term improvements which benefit large numbers of animals.

Rescue dog, rescue kennel
There must be more to animal welfare than rehoming animals or is there?

Those on the front line of these attacks are the UK’s RSPCA and most other SPCA’s around the world and organisations such as Humane Societies of the United States (HSUS) and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). All of these come under fire from those factions who feel their livelihoods and pastimes are under threat by all their campaigning. It is rare to ever hear a bad word said about charities such as the Dogs Trust, PDSA or Blue Cross because we seem to have a confused concept of what animal welfare entails and where money is better spent.

Should it be spent prosecuting animal cruelty and tackling such issues as hunting, the fur trade, intensive farming methods and  curtailing unnecessary vivisection  or spent subsidising irresponsible pet owners and providing expensive state of the art facilities to house homeless animals.

Anything goes in making them the bad guys.

The RSPCA is continually lambasted for a perceived over-stepping of their remit of preventing cruelty by all lawful means, promoting kindness and alleviating the suffering of all animals” with biased investigative documentaries, spurious news reports  and hate websites. Hate websites exist for most SPCA’s around the world containing some extreme content and profane remarks. Go onto any search engine and type “hate RSPCA” and you will discover pages of sites decrying them for something or other mostly by misinformed people, but even the legal profession is not averse to stoking up the paranoia.

Some UK lawyers appear on a crusade to curtail animal cruelty prosecutions in the UK.  Some lawyers advertise themselves as specialist defence lawyers against the RSPCA and arguably publish a lot of misinformation to muddy the waters. At least one firm posts quite extreme and lurid viewpoints about the charity on their website. One goes as far as to show an RSPCA sign dripping with blood stating the charity has ‘increasingly taken over the investigation and prosecution’ of animal cruelty in the UK and accuses their inspectors of being sheep in wolves clothing by dressing in police style uniforms to dupe the public.

Website sign, RSPCA, blood
Some sections of the legal profession are obviously not fans of the R.S.P.C.A – from a law firms’ website.

They also cite the RSPCA of slaughtering 1000 healthy dogs and cats annually and state that there are few prosecutions that cause more anxiety and trauma than RSPCA prosecutions’

RSPCA hate website
Hate websites can be quite explicit

Critics of Humane Societies of the United States (HSUS) have set up a watchdog site called ‘Humane Watch’ specifically to censure them on the basis that they spend most of their money campaigning ‘on the hill’ (US Congress) at the expense of local animal shelters, killing hundreds of animals unnecessarily and of misleading the public and donors into thinking they are a welfare organisation. Most of their rhetoric is unbelievably spurious and ridiculous but unfortunately many people fall for it. How animal lovers can be against organisations whose wish is to cut the number of animals kept in cages by stopping them from becoming unwanted, abandoned, cruelly treated or sick in the first place is difficult to understand.

HSUS recently fell foul of the powerful US gun lobby: the National Shooting, Sports, and Fishing organisation (NSSF) for trying to get the US Government to ban hunting on one-fifth of the total land area of the USA, which drew the perplexing response from the NSSF that they would expose HSUS as ‘the anti-hunting, radical animal rights organisation it is’.

Better to give money to “woolly charities?”

Using the term “animal rights” is a clever tool because it gives the impression that an organisation is in some way anti-society or violent and conjures up  pictures of hooded people turning up in the middle of the night with bombs and making abusive telephone calls and death threats. By accusing them of being “animal rightist” they hope to persuade donors not to fund them, and they actively promote giving money to what some have described as ‘woolly’ charities which are  viewed less threatening to their interests and who avoid any confrontation by solely finding homes for “fluffy animals“.

Statements made by critics that money is better used directly on ‘animal welfare’ by harmless rescue centres and not to pro-active animal charities highlights our increasing misconception that welfare is  just about rescuing and finding homes for unwanted animals. Most of the rhetoric is aimed at making out that the aims of animal rights are far less meaningful than those of animal welfare.

The self-proclaimed world’s largest animal rights organisation  PETA is probably the most maligned organisation on the planet and attracts criticism from all quarters including vegans and animal lovers. They are accused of hating animals and “furthering their own political interests“. A lot of this revolves around the impression that they want to ban pet owning, destroy most companion animals and stop us from having any fun with them, which is mostly taken somewhat out of context. Most of the good work they do on other issues is mostly overlooked such is our fixation with companion animals.

It is evident that as a society we are extremely split and misinformed when it involves the “rescuing” and “saving” of animals and we have great difficulty deciding how best to accomplish the best for all animals. It is unfortunate that we feel we have to lash out at those who do so much work to help them which only aids those that want to continue abusing animals.

Top animal charities spend £500 million a year saving unwanted animals.

Are animal re-homing charities failing animals?

We all know that the thousands of animal “re-homing” charities in the UK and around the world are doing wonderful work in finding new homes for hundreds of thousands of animals each year, because they are quick to tell us so and we see their great work depicted on television documentaries and in the press. As donating public we revel in the glow of sad stories and happy endings of animals finding forever homes and for this reason we throw millions at these charities to enable them to continue.

The top eight UK charities spend £500,000,000 each year to support the infrastructure to “save” and “rescue” animals from us humans. In the case of the Dog’s Trust, the UK’s leading dog charity, this works out at £8,100 per dog to care for and re-home the 13,141 dogs (2017 figures).

It would seem on the surface that the animal re-homing charities are doing a really good job and making the most of the money we give to them, but should they judge their success by the number of animals they take in and re-home or by what they are accomplishing in reducing numbers in the first place.

The Humane Societies of the United States (HSUS) is constantly criticised for not giving enough of their funds to animal shelters, but they once succinctly responded by declaring that their aim was to “prevent cruelty and stop animals entering animal shelters in the first place”. It could be argued that the re-homing charities are perpetuating the problem of irresponsible pet ownership by offering a free service to accommodate and re-cycle unwanted pets, strengthening the creed that they are disposable objects.

Each year the number of unwanted and abandoned animals never seems to decrease.

Are animal shelters just re-cycling plants for irresponsible owners.

Each year the major UK animal re-homing charities take in tens of thousands of unwanted dogs, over a hundred thousand cats, thousands of horses and donkeys and hundreds of thousands of rabbits and other small animals. All these figures could probably be doubled, trebled or even quadrupled if you consider the numbers taken in by the hundreds of smaller UK charities.

Local authorities supposedly dealt with 7,000 stray, abandoned and unwanted dogs in 2017 of which over 2,000 were put to sleep although these figures seem far too low. The Cats Protection charity alone cares for nearly 50,000 cats annually.

If official figures are correct, we are supposedly getting on top of the abandoned and stray dog numbers on the streets, but half of the dogs that the Dog’s Trust accept, 6,500 (2017 figures), are strays from local authorities. Any slight decrease is more than matched by the increasing number handed into animal rescue centres by fickle owners so the status quo remains despite continuing campaigns and free neutering. This results in more facilities opening to cope with the continual flood. To make matters worse we are increasingly importing other countries’ stray and unwanted animals. We have had a cat and horse crisis for several years now and an increasing problem of unwanted exotic pets which has resulted in even more charities to rescue them.

While charities are happy to continue picking up the burden there is no incentive for the government or the law to intervene or take notice. The UK Government almost entirely washes it hands of the subject and even relies on animal charities to collate figures on the state of our animal keeping habits such as the RSPCA with their cruelty figures and the PDSA with their PAWS survey otherwise we would have no idea of the problems.

Kittens, rescue, animal rescue,, abandoned, unwanted
The number of stray and unwanted cats in the UK is incalculable.

There must be more to animal welfare than just re-homing dogs and cats.

The charities will argue that they only exist for this purpose, but surely this is a short-sighted outlook and instead of proudly proclaiming the increasing numbers they are finding homes for, they should strive to decrease the numbers becoming unwanted in the first place.  There must be more to animal welfare than just re-homing dogs and cats, but most charities seem happy to just tread water, accept the status quo and never make inroads into solving the major welfare problems. Do we just accept this as a fact of life and money well spent or should we expect more from them? Perhaps it is time for a completely new mind-set.