We went to an RSPCA talk at the Eighth Day last night.
Beforehand was a vegan buffet, all included in the £10 ticket price, and it was completely amazing. There were quiches and dips and things you’d expect in veg*n nosh, all very nice, and also some awesome tofu-nut wrappy things. Some non-vegetarians there remarked that they wouldn’t mind eating like this every night, and I have to agree. There was lots of nummy fresh fruit and, horror of horrors, the ACTUAL MOST DELICIOUS BROWNIES EVER, which also happened to be vegan, as well as thick, chocolatey, nutty and all gooey in the middle. Just to torment me, these aren’t included on the Eighth Day recipes page.
The talk was cool too. The emphasis was on information rather than stories of outrage (not that I particuarly mind stories of outrage; such things are happening to my brethren, cats, rabbits and miscellaneous, and everyone should know about it).
Facts I heard last night:
- The RSPCA was formed before the police. William Wilberforce was one of the founders. Police officers who sneer at RSPCA inspectors for not being ‘proper’ inspectors are barking up the wrong history.
- The maximum prison sentence for even the most disturbing animal abuse is six months. What with the law not doing what it says it will, this can in practice mean buggerall. People can be banned from keeping animals for life, but you aren’t checked against any kind of record when you buy a pet.
- In case you think the RSPCA is too court-happy, only 1% of the calls to its national helpline results in prosecution. What’s really interesting is that 98% of prosecutions brought by the RSPCA result in successful convictions. In comparison to the CPS, which quotes 80.7% (the inspector claimed a lower figure last night, which might have been for a different category of cases, can’t remember), that’s pretty freaking amazing, and brought about through honest, meticulous effort in by presenting their cases.
- The RSPCA can’t do anything about stray dogs. That’s the legal responsibility of local councils, who will still put a dog to sleep after 7 days if he or she is sick or injured.
- Unless an animal has been abandoned for a specified period, the RSPCA can’t take him/her – or it’s theft. (Taking and neutering someone’s pet would be criminal damage!) This leads inspectors to farcical dances like putting tape over keyholes and cards in hinges to prove the owner hasn’t returned, and feeding animals through letterboxes for a couple of days before they can be rescued.
- When it comes to proscutions the RSPCA takes the same line as mental health employees are advised to take when assaulted by their patients. Even though the offenders are often vulnerable people, the RSPCA will prosecute anyway, because it needs to be on record that this person is dangerous – and in cases of animal abuse, without necessarily apportioning blame, they absolutely should be prevented from keeping animals.
- A funny-horrific local story is going to hit the headlines later this month (subject to court proceedings). I’m not sure how much I should say, but it’ll be notable for some oddities about the offender, as well as the sheer number of animals involved.
I didn’t realise the RSPCA has an international section, and definitely didn’t realise that each local division is a completely separate, individual charity, acting rather like a ‘franchise’ of the national charity. They work with the inspectorate (who are the national bit) but don’t receive any funding from them (they have to raise it themselves), and have quite a bit of autonomy around the core RSPCA rules.
Which prompts me to include the local RSPCA in my payroll giving, now I know that’s a separate thing from the national org…
My mother’s come away with the idea of fostering pregnant queens, which is worrying. I took her there for the greater glory of DOGS WITH WHITE HAIRS ON THEIR MUZZLES, not PULSATING KITTY MOTHERSHIPS INCUBATING TINY KITTY-CLONES. Puppies I can appreciate; red panda cubs likewise melt my stony heart; newborn kittens are disgusting mewling wet things that might as well be human for all the appeal they hold for any right-thinking person.
Now here’s a random video I found about recyclable cloth gift-wrapping. Like anything vaguely origami-ish, I find it both fascinating and completely incomprehensible. I just watched it happen, but how does it work?