There was a time when the RSCPA was interested in stopping animal cruelty. Now all it wants to do is prosecute anyone with an injured dog. That’s what ‘Anton’ says, a dog owner who had his dogs taken by the RSPCA. One of the dogs subsequently died in the RSPCA’s care.
In this item, we look at Anton’s case, we meet his vet, and the lawyer who is turning RSPCA victim support into a cottage industry.
This item appears in Fieldsports Britain episode 320. To watch the whole show go to Fcha.nl/fieldsportsbritain320
Here is the RSPCA’s statement in full:
Our question: What was wrong with the RSPCA’s case against Anton (i.e why did so many charges fail)?
There was nothing wrong with the case. The decision to prosecute has been vindicated by [Anton]’s conviction.
No case is prosecuted by the RSPCA unless it is satisfied that there is sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of securing a conviction and it is in the public interest. In this respect the RSPCA has regard for the Code for Crown Prosecutors.
The dismissal of a number of charges by the Courts does not mean that it was wrong to prefer those charges in the first place. It is the function of the Court to assess the evidence before it and to independently adjudicate.
Our question: What powers do RSPCA inspectors have to remove pets they consider subject to cruelty?
The RSPCA have no special powers to remove pets. In this instance, on 14 March 2014, Lincolnshire Police seized nine dogs from the address in Mablethorpe under section 23 of the Animal Welfare Act in connection with an investigation into allegations of causing unnecessary suffering to a dog, animal fighting and badger baiting. The police then put the dogs into RSPCA care.
Our question: Are you doing more animal cruelty cases than you were 10 years ago?
In 2014 the RSPCA secured 2,419 convictions in Magistrates’ court, in 2013 this number was 3,961 and in 2012 this was 4,168. In 2007 after the Animal Welfare Act came in this figure was 1,940.
For the previous four years at least the RSPCA has received over 1 million calls to its cruelty line per year. Our prosecutions represent less than 1 per cent of the number reported to us through this phone line.
The prosecution figures do tend to fluctuate over the years so we wouldn’t say we were ‘doing more animal cruelty cases’ as such – it tends to depend on what happens over the year.
To put this into perspective in 2014 we dispensed 82,746 welfare improvement advice notices, in 2013 this was 76,810 and in 2012 this was 78,090. Most of the issues we come across are dealt with by issuing advice.