Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Enquiry into the RSPCA? - Part 9: other rescues

"The owner of an animal sanctuary was warned yesterday that she could be jailed after pleading guilty to 24 charges of animal cruelty, after one of the biggest investigations ever taken on by the RSPCA.
Anne Stott, 56, admitted causing unnecessary suffering after inspectors from the RSPCA found 140 dead dogs, cats, ferrets and a fox at her Crewe Animal Rescue Centre in Cheshire and in two lock-up garages.
They found another 20 animals alive but suffering from dehydration.
Magistrates in Crewe were told that some of the animals were pets taken to the centre by people who thought they would be looked after with care.
It appeared that Stott had put down animals entrusted to the sanctuary and stored their bodies in bin liners.
Inspectors went to the centre in Edleston Road - two flats over the charity shop which Stott used for fund-raising - last May after a caller said a dog was trapped inside in temperatures of up to 37C (99F).
A veterinary surgeon who examined the animal corpses said some were so decomposed that it was impossible to identify the exact cause of death."

One situation in which the RSPCA has to act is where rescues have "gone bad"—usually because the people running them have become so overwhelmed that they cease to have any appreciation of the animals' needs.

When this happens it is a tragedy for the sanctuary owners and puts a great strain on RSPCA resources because of the sheer numbers of animals who may need to be taken in.

What an enquiry might comment

Rescues (including the RSPCA's own branches) are under constant pressure to accept more animals, putting them at risk of entering a downward spiral in which the owners are so exhausted that it becomes easier to agree to take animals than to refuse, in spite of being unable to care for the ones they already have. The existence of the RSPCA inspectorate as an external body which can enforce acceptable standards provides an essential safeguard of the welfare of rescued animals but is understandably resented by many rescue owners who are at the end of their tether.

This situation has not been helped by some organisations using RSPCA prosecutions of failing rescues as another opportunity to attack the society and to create fear that there is an intentional policy to "take out the competition".

It might be beneficial for the RSPCA to attempt some outreach to small rescues firstly to reassure them that there is no intent to force them out and secondly to educate them about the potential risks of becoming overwhelmed (and indeed the value of being able to tell anyone who complains when they  refuse to take in more animals that they are acting on RSPCA advice to limit numbers to a level that they can cope with).

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