In its ‘RSPCA policies on animal welfare’ it states under its Objects of the RSPCA that ‘The charitable objects of the RSPCA are to promote kindness and to prevent or suppress cruelty to animals

The RSPCA’s vision is, ‘To work for a world in which all humans respect and live in harmony with all other members of the animal kingdom

Under its Mission Statement, the RSPCA declares ‘The RSPCA as a charity will, by all lawful means, prevent cruelty, promote kindness to and alleviate suffering.’

And under their General Principles, the RSPCA states ‘The general principles on which the RSPCA operates, derived from extensive scientific evidence, is based on the fact that vertebrates and some invertebrates are sentient, and can feel pain and distress.’

What happened to all those honorable and admirable objects, visions, statements and principles when RSPCA inspectors arrived at an address in South Wales and proceeded to slaughter ten German Shepherd dogs with a captive bolt?

Sunday, 14 February 2010

How the RSPCA bites the hand that feeds it!

When George Mason bequeathed a large chunk of his fortune to the animal charity, little did his brother think that they'd come back for a second helping. Chris Green reports

Visitors to the website of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals are told that more than half of the charity's annual income – which totalled almost £120m in 2008 – comes from legacies in wills. "We're incredibly grateful to these thoughtful animal lovers and, as with any donation, their gifts will be put to good use," the site says.
But John Mason, whose brother George bequeathed more than £480,000 to the charity when he died, would probably disagree. The 85-year-old, from Enfield in north London, recently joined a growing list of people who have been dragged through the courts by the RSPCA after disagreements with the charity.
He said it was "clear" from George Mason's will that he had never intended for any tax liability to fall on his brother or friends. Despite the ruling, he said, the RSPCA would still receive £370,000 of Mr Mason's money.
"Everybody knew that George was an animal lover, so [his will] wasn't a surprise at all," said Jonathan Troop, John Mason's godson. "The surprise was when the letters from Withers [RSPCA's solicitors] started arriving. We decided that the only way forward was to try to stand up to them. To be honest, we didn't think they would ever take it to court, because their position was so tenuous and their argument was so technical we thought they wouldn't risk it."
Clare Kelly, John Mason's solicitor, said she thought it was "quite disgusting" that a donation which had been left in good faith by an elderly animal lover had been used to pursue his relatives for more money. "You'd think that a charity that had essentially had a windfall of £370,000 would not then think: 'Let's go for more,'" she said. "I don't know why they're playing such a tough game. My view is that it's a complete misuse of the funding they're getting. In this case they were left several hundred thousand pounds, and they were trying to get several hundred thousand more."
Ms Kelly added that Mr Mason would have struggled to cover the costs if he lost, and found the proceedings "very distressing".
This entire case has made me think very carefully about what I do with money," she said. "I think people leave money to charity to do good. But had [Mr Mason] known that this was how his brother would be treated then he probably would have thought much more carefully about what he did with the money." Another legal source who observed the proceedings said there had been "no merit" in the RSPCA's case. "I could not believe it went as far as court. What would possess any charity to make such claims and to put people through that is beyond me. Pure greed is the only logical explanation I can come up with," the source said. A further notable recent case is that of Dr Christine Gill, 59, pictured below, an academic from North Yorkshire who took the charity to court over the inheritance of her parents' £2.3m farm. She won her battle after the judge ruled that her father had coerced her mother into drawing up a will in which she left the farm to the charity. Last week, the RSPCA was ordered to pay the bulk of the hefty £1.3m legal costs.
"I was a little bit daunted by the fact that it was an extremely wealth charity," said Dr Gill, who is now waiting to see if the RSPCA will appeal against the decision. "If you're infinitely rich like the RSPCA then it doesn't matter, but my family could have been out on the streets if it had all gone badly wrong. I've been very fortunate really. I know they're a charity in favour of animals, but the way they treat people seems to be rather harsh. It would be nice to just get on with my life. The money worries, always waiting for decisions. It just takes you over. It's an overwhelming thing, a constant cloud in the sky."
One of the judge's main criticisms of the RSPCA in the Gill case was its "unreasonable" attitude towards mediation: nobody from the charity agreed to meet Dr Gill to hammer out a settlement before the case came to court.
"I think there's been a perception that charities are seen as a soft touch in will disputes, and there was a conscious decision by the RSPCA to send a message that they weren't a soft touch any more," said Dr Gill's solicitor, Mark Keenan. "But this was not the right case to do that. Had they met Christine, I think that their views would have changed."
But Paul Hewitt, a partner at Withers law firm who fought the RSPCA's case against Mr Mason, told The Independent yesterday that he felt the ruling in that case had been "grossly unfair" and that the judge had been "wrong" to dismiss the case. He also pointed out that the "vast majority" of legacy cases in which the charity is involved are settled out of court.
"Although I do a lot of work for charities, I hardly ever go to court, because one always tried to sort out these things in advance. But resolving it wasn't possible here," he said. "The RSPCA did not take the decision to do this lightly. We thought, and we still do, that we were honouring Mr Mason's wishes.
"If I say to a charity: 'I'm leaving you £200,000', and the charity only receives £50,000, should it just walk away? If the benefactor wants the charity to have this money, the charity has an obligation to use it. It would be a breach of the trustees' duties if they walked away from bequests."
A spokeswoman for the RSPCA said: "Each case is examined on its merits. Where it seems appropriate to seek a settlement without resorting to court action then of course we will do so. Over the last 17 years we have processed a total of over 30,000 bequests. Of this figure in only 30 instances have we been involved in court proceedings."
When asked how it justified spending people's legacy donations on court costs, the charity said: "Of course we would rather spend monies generously left to us on direct animal welfare, but it is because their last wishes have been questioned that charities find themselves in having to defend their generosity. If we were to ignore their wishes it could be argued that no animals would ever benefit from any such legacy that comes to us.
"We are a charity devoted to the cause of animal welfare, and we believe that our donors would expect us to ensure that we receive people's kind bequests. Indeed we could be criticised for being negligent in this regard."

What some of the public have to say:

'Greed knows no limit in today's Britain. What a shame! I am curious to know the salary of the director of this trust.'
'They really are shameless - it's actually worse than wasting tax payers' money because they are a charity supposedly doing good work - this isn't the first scandal they have been involved with it's just the tip of the iceberg.
I'd rather give my money to another charity after their sickening behaviour going after even more of a dead mans money.'

'Perfectly understandable that the RSPCA should try for the jack-pot. People seem to forget there are a lot of extremely highly-paid do-gooders and lay-abouts on the payrole of these organisations. They have one thing in common -' they believe fervently in the old adage that charity begins at home. On a humane note; where would they go to earn a living if the public stopped supporting them ? They are not otherwise employable. We live in an age where damn near everything is a scam. It comes from the top down.'

'With this attitude, the RSPCA could find themselves at the bottom of anyone's list when giving away free money. Their unadulterated greed has not only cost them about a million pound over the two cases mentioned but millions more in donations in the future.

If they come knocking at my door, I would have to pretend I'm not in, incase they sue me. Besides, doesn't this charity put down thousands of perfectly healthy animals in their care every year for lack of funding?
How much more good could they do if they ditched the lawyers and spent donations on what they said they would?
'Where is the charity in the all of this ?

The Trustees need to reassess their priorities ?

Suing for money from elderly people simply is not charity, the type of thing some Machiavellian lawyer would do.'
'Somewhere at the heart of all this there is an extreme idealogue.

Following the dreadful case of Dr. Gill's mistreatment, it is time for The Queen to step in and ask them to reconsider their position, or lose all rights to the word 'Royal'.

Responding to Paul Hewitt's point, if a tax complication arises because of a will drafting that means they get a lesser amount, that is an education problem for those who draft wills, not the individual who made the promise.

And the sentiment that 'If the benefactor wants the charity to have this money, the charity has an obligation to use it.' seems to be some strange justification for terrorising the lives of older people because either family issues or poor will drafting caused a problem. And now two justices have robustly thrown out Hewitt's cases.

I am certainly not donating a penny any more.'
'...that when God read this, he made sure extra kittens died due to their money being spent on legal fees!'
'The RSPCA like other money grabbing organisations that masquerade as 'charities' lost my support years ago. These sort of court cases do them little merit but the plus side is that they are exposed for what they really are.'
'This organisation is well known for going after pet owners who actually haven't broken any law, and simply been reported by malicious neighbours trying to settle a score.
They are well known for pursuing cases for years and years even on the most unreliable evidence.
The 'private eye' publication has published these reports which the mainstream media refuses to print.

This notion that the RSPCA is some sort of cute long time establishment all round good organisation is so wrong.
It's time they stopped harassing pet owners who are found to be doing no harm, stop abusing their power and do something about that over active greed gland pursuing dead people's money in such a disgusting manner.'
'The RSPCA prevents and deals with a great deal of cruelty committed against the animals of this country and should be applauded for doing so; however, on this topic they are totally wrong.
Be grateful for the money that you are given and do a better job of educating solicitors on how donors can maximise their legacies without disadvantaging other beneficiaries. This will prevent such cases ever having to take place and avoid the drop in donations that I fear actions like Gill and Mason's will cause

If the RSPCA does not change its immoral policy towards those kind enough to leave it a legacy then the only true losers will be the very animals that the RSPCA is supposed to be protecting.'

'I agree - the problem is the RSPCA knows it does good work and it's hard to find fault with an organisation that helps animals and does such good work, most of the time.

However their recent cases where they have brought cruelty charges against pet owners and been found to have been totally wrong in bringing the cases in the first place is reflective of the culture the RSPCA operates under.
As seen in this case they try to bully and bulldozer people through the courts without any sort of discussion or meetings to try to find a solution. They think they are a law unto themselves or above the law and abuse legal process to get their way for the sake of getting their way.

I am glad useless Judges have woken up to the fact that these 'feelgood' societies sometimes need to be put in their place when their over active greed glands get going.

I read about a case of a horse owner who was reported by a neighbour over a vendetta that was long running. The RSPCA took the horse without so much as a vet present and had the police there to prevent him from stopping them. It was later found the horse was not being mistreated, there was no supporting evidence etc yet the man had to fund something like 16 thousand pounds of his own money to get the horse back through the courts. This is an awful abuse of power by the RSPCA and for this reason I would never donate to them ever again. Personally I don't like this 'royal' title either.'

'Royal Society for the Persecution (or Prosecution) of Children And old people'
'Perhaps someone could investigate the relationship between the RSPCA and the solicitors they use. Who in his right mind would spend £1.3m on legal fees? My first thought would be that somewhere down the line, someone is diverting money to a more personal good cause.'
'I can only speak personally

As seen with the RSPCA the big charities tend to become uncaring and inefficient. The recent legal actions by the RSPCA has cost them over a million pounds due to their insensitive stupidity, thats a million pounds that folk have donated to the RSPCA going to the lawyers instead of the animals. Another big problem of big charities is that they tend to duplicate the roles of other charities, have high administration costs and wage costs.

I prefer to go small and local. So any donations to a charity shop heads to the charity shop that supports a local based charity, in my case a hospice.

I prefer to make sure any donations go to something that counts, again these will be small charities, and I will stipulate how the funds are used.

I have selected three small charities: two being memorial trusts set up in memory of dead children; and one connected to the Cornish Chough. I have plans to create a trust in which to place a sum of money to be distributed to the three small charities on an annual basis. I will refuse to donate any money to any other charity during my life other than to the three charities in question, hence the likes of the money grasping RSPCA will never see a penny.

I am going to be alive for many decades to come, but via the trust I will be able to direct how my money will be used in the three selected charities, these being small enough that I have some influence. This will be a long term relationship over many years, when I eventually die everything goes to the trust and it will continue to direct how the three charities will use my money for all eternity (until the money runs out, or the charities disband, whichever comes first).'

'The point is that the RSPCA are routinely using donations to fund court cases with the hope of settling out of court. It disgusting and they can certainly kiss any hope of a donation from me goodbye. They should be grateful for the windfall not try and upset members of the deceased by trying to take additional funds from them.'

'The people in question did no wrong, the RSPCA came after them for money it had no right to have.

Let me quote from the Independent:
"Last week, the RSPCA was ordered to pay the bulk of the hefty £1.3m legal costs."

In other words a lot of little old ladies donated £1.3m to the RSPCA to be given to those hungry looking things called lawyers instead of cute puppies and kittens.'

'I've never liked them. My wife gives them £5 a month I keep telling her they are a self serving organisation that helps animals merely as an excuse to justify it's continued existence, maybe this and other case will allow me to convince her to cancel the Direct Debit.'

'I read this article with rising indignation until I saw the detail of what George Mason had said in his will. Unless I am missing something, he appears to have left a specific amount to the RSPCA and the rest (presumably after duties etc) was to be shared with his brother and friends. I happen to think it is bizzare to leave such large amounts to animals, but if a friend of mine did that, I would be happy to honour it before getting my hands on the rest, which was presumably still a sizeable windfall.'

'I'm not great fan of Dickens (an early supporter) but he surely would despise this mean spirited, pettyfogging attitude persisting in modern Britain. Well endowed charities seem to employ self righteous packs of snarling greedmongers. (Don't they say dog owners become like their animals?)

Robert Burns said something touching too about 'lawyers' - ('mongrels snapping at the kennels of justice ...') or something similar.

"What a parcel of rogues in a nation."'

'RSPCA - you are a disgrace. I have, for the last 10 years, donated on a monthly basis to your organisation.

I have today cancelled my DD and will never again give you a penny.'

'So the RSPCA, a charity which exists to protect animals, feels it is ok to bully John Mason, a very old man, into a settlement out of court and finally put him through the ordeal of going to court. What heartless, greedy, unprincipled bullies. They know that most people, especially older people, are frightened of going to law or can't afford the risk of losing and having to pay costs. How can a charity which protects animals justify treating old and recently bereaved people in this way? Thank goodness he found a solicitor who stood up for him and a judge who has put a stop to their unfounded claim and denied them leave to appeal. How many more out of court settlements are the RSPCA pursuing at present? How much do they spent on lawyers? Shouldn't the Charity Commission investigate?'

'To answer slyfas' question about how much the Chief Executive earns, these are the figures in the 2008 Annual report, land here they are for you to marvel at:
'the emoluments of higher paid staff within the following scales were:

9 employees were paid £60,000 – £69,999
4 employees were paid £70,000 – £79,999
4 employees were paid £80,000 – £89,999
2 employees were paid £90,000 – £99,999
1 employee was paid £100,000 – £109,999 - I guess this is the Chief Executive
These sums exclude the pension scheme contributions which a further note to the accounts tells you are made by the RSPCA for these already high earning people

Makes you think doesn't it? One assumes all the donations the RSPCA gets go to animal welfare.....'

'what a lot of people sadly dont realise is when they leave money to the rspca or donate by direct debit they are leaving/giving it to there multi million pound headquarters to spend on legal battles like this, and adverts getting you to give them more, and ofcourse the extremly high wage of there headoffice staff. no money donated direct to the rspca goes to the many small branches up and down the country who actually do all the work they are responsible for there own funding and the local inspector, some branches struggle to get by. believe me i am no fan of the rspca i am involved with a very small rescue charity and i hear and see a lot of things that the rspca would rather you didnt know about. like the case of the poor unfortunate gsd's murdered by them with bolt guns cause they couldnt be bothered to take them into care. there have been many such cases, i would never give one penny to the main rspca but i might possibly give to one of the local small branches because they are actually the ones doing all the work related to animal welfare.'

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