News from the Press Office:
News from South Bucks RSPCA
South Bucks RSPCA ‘Mutt Strut’ Sponsored Dog WalkOn Sunday 8th September South Bucks RSPCA will be hosting the annual sponsored Dog Walk.
No-one likes a grass, except rabbits
Monday June 25 2012
The RSPCA has today launched a campaign called ‘Hay Fever,’ to highlight the fact many owners do not know what food is best for their rabbits. Rabbits have long been one of the UK’s favourite pets, with owners falling for their cute appearance and believing the common misconception they are easy to look after. However despite their popularity, a study commissioned by the RSPCA at the University of Bristol shows a lack of grass and hay in their diet is among the most important welfare issues affecting rabbits in the UK.
Bugs Bunny was wrong
"The RSPCA is trying to give rabbits Hay Fever! But not in a bad way - we want all pet rabbits to be eating hay as their main food,” said Rachel Roxburgh, RSPCA companion animal scientist.
"People also think their rabbits should eat carrots because that's what Bugs Bunny does... but he's a cartoon - real rabbits don't talk, and they shouldn't be eating carrots too often either," she added.
No such thing as “rabbit food”
Despite the popular saying salad is “rabbit food” a rabbit’s diet should not include too much lettuce and types like iceburg shouldn’t be fed. Even more surprisingly, while many people think carrots are ideal food for bunnies, in fact they do not naturally eat root vegetables, cereals, or fruit.
As carrots (and apples) are high in sugar they should only be fed in small amounts as an occasional treat.
A healthy adult rabbit diet should consist of:
∑ Mainly good quality hay (available at all times). Owners should feed a bundle of hay that’s as big as their rabbit, every day and ideally access to growing grass for grazing.
∑ Fresh clean grass (growing or picked by hand), but not lawnmower clippings. They can upset rabbit’s digestive system and make them ill.
∑ An adult-sized handful of safe washed dark leafy greens such as cabbage, broccoli, kale and herbs such as parsley.
∑ Owners can also feed a small amount- no more than 25g/kg body weight (i.e. one eggcup full per kg) of good quality commercial rabbit pellets/nuggets.
∑ Constant access to fresh clean water.
Food for thought
“Our research shows that even some of the most committed owners do not fully understand what foods are best for their rabbits’ health and welfare,” added Rachel Roxburgh.
The Bristol study found dental problems (12%) and digestive problems (11.5%) were very commonly reported by owners – both of which can be caused by poor diet.
“We know insufficient hay and grass can cause dental and digestive health problems and have an impact on rabbits psychological wellbeing, and yet many people do not realise good quality hay should be the main source of their food – seeing it merely as a bedding material,” she added.
A survey carried out by TNS highlights this even further, with results showing that only eight per cent of rabbit owners know hay and grass are the key component of a rabbit’s diet.
People think the most important food for rabbits is: Rabbit food (23%), carrots (19%), leafy greens (17%), fruit and vegetables (15%) hay and grass (8%)
Not to be sneezed at
As part of the launch of ‘Hay Fever’, the RSPCA will be hosting a day of online activity through its official Facebook and Twitter pages on Monday 25 June.
Activities on Facebook include a live Q&A on diet with rabbit expert Rachel Roxburgh; a new viral video ‘Nobody likes a grass’ and a special rabbit rehoming appeal; meanwhile Twitter will feature lots of tips and games.
What bugs a bunny?
‘Hay Fever’ marks the start of an ongoing campaign for the RSPCA on key welfare issues facing pet rabbits. The overall campaign is called ‘What bugs a bunny?’
It is hoped in the long term this campaign will help improve the welfare of one of Britain’s most popular pets and encourage owners to learn more about these complex and interesting animals.
For more information on how to care for your rabbit log onto www.rspca.org.uk/rabbits
RSPCA in the East launch campaign against silent
Monday June 11 2012
RSPCA representatives across the East region will be working hard this summer to highlight the dangers of ragwort. The aim of the campaign is to raise awareness of the effects of ragwort poisoning on horses and livestock.
Just a small intake of ragwort over a long period of time can be just as damaging as a large intake on a single occasion. And sadly ragwort poisoning does not show symptoms until liver damage has occurred and it is usually too late to save the animals.
Animals which ingest ragwort may initially lose weight and suffer from depression, loss of appetite, constipation, sunburn and jaundice.
In the later stages animals may suffer further distressing symptoms including loss of coordination, breathing difficulties, blindness or convulsions.
Simon and Sally Philips from the RSPCA Suffolk East Coast branch are leading the campaign.
Branch chairman Sally Phillips said: “Ragwort can be the silent killer and it appears people are still not aware of the dangers it poses to horses or livestock.
“Sadly we know all too well the fatal consequences this weed can have on horses and livestock and it can have an absolutely devastating effect.
“It is heartbreaking when we see fields covered with this potentially lethal plant and it is growing next to where horses or livestock are happily grazing.
“We are certain that if the animals’ owners were aware of the dangers, then they would remove this weed immediately.
“We hope to raise awareness across the East region of the dangers and will be posting leaflets in all local vets and also in branch shops and drawing it to the attention of landowners. RSPCA branches across the East region will be involved and even if this just saves the life of one animal then clearly it will be worth it.”
Flowering of ragwort is from late June onwards to early autumn and it is at this stage that ragwort needs to be destroyed. Where ever possible ragwort should be disposed of on-site. Unlike many poisonous plans ragwort toxins are not destroyed when the plant is killed. So unless you remove and burn all the wilted and dead ragwort from the pasture there is a danger that it can be picked up and eaten.
Ragwort plants can produce up to 150,000 seeds which can remain dormant in the soil for up to 20 years.
Horse and livestock owners that find ragwort on their land are urged to move the animal to another area immediately.
They are then urged to clear the field completely of the ragwort. The best way to remove ragwort is by pulling out each plant individually and then burning it. Then fill the hole left with rock salt which may help to kill any remaining fragments. This work must be done before flowering has finished and preferably before the seeding phase.
Ragwort can be poisonous to humans so take care whenever you come into contact with it. Always wear sturdy waterproof gloves and keep your arms and legs covered. To avoid inhalation of pollen use a facemask.
For large scale infestations, mechanical pulling or herbicides are an alternative option, but collection and removal of dead ragwort following spraying is essential. (Some weed killers can be poisonous to horses so also need to restrict the horses’ access to the area following spraying)
Members of the public can make a complaint about the presence of ragwort under the Weeds Act, but the regulatory bodies in both England and Wales will only investigate cases where there is a risk of spread of any of harmful weeds to agricultural land used by grazing animals. Before a member of the public makes a complaint to anyone they must contact the landowner first.
Anyone wishing to make a complaint about the presence of ragwort in England is advised to contact Natural England www.naturalengland.org.uk or to contact 0300 060 1112.
Further information and advice can be found on the RSPCA website at www.rspca.org.uk or http://www.rspca.org.uk/allaboutanimals/horses/health/poisoning
Almost 100,000 British calves killed on farm and
11,000 shipped abroad
TV farmer Jimmy Doherty encourages shoppers to buy British veal
Thursday May 24 2012
About 100,000 dairy calves were killed last year just because they were the ‘wrong sex’, new figures have revealed.The tragic statistics from The Calf Forum* highlight that an estimated one in five bull dairy calves born in the Britain last year (2011) was killed on farm and a further 11,000 were shipped abroad because they cannot produce milk.
The figures have been revealed as TV farmer Jimmy Doherty launches a new series about creating higher welfare affordable food for Tesco - including British veal meat balls.
To tackle the numbers of calves killed on farm and the growing live transport trade (pictured) the RSPCA is working with supermarkets, the farming industry and animal welfare groups to create a market to keep male dairy calves here – such as rearing them for British veal.
David Bowles, director of communications at the RSPCA, said: “Animal lovers are rightly angry when they see lorry loads of young calves being shipped abroad. However, what many people do not realise is that nine times more calves are killed on farm just days after being born. They are the lost animals of the dairy industry.
Bull dairy calves shipped from Kent
“Farmers don’t want these animals to be killed and neither do the RSPCA. We also don’t want to see them shipped abroad to potentially face long-journeys across Europe where they can be reared on farms without a properly nutritious diet or bedding to lie down on.
“We would much rather these calves reared for veal in the UK where legally they have to be given a proper diet and bedding.”
David Tory a dairy and veal farmer who is a member of the RSPCA’s Freedom Food scheme (pictured with his veal calves), has been educating shoppers that British veal calves are free to run around with pen mates and have a longer life than chicken, pigs, turkeys and lamb.
He said: “There is a lot of ignorance out there about British veal but once I’ve explain the facts, that there is a high welfare choice for veal, a vast majority of people are onside.
“Our veal calves have a very high quality of life – a good vaccination programme, high feed programme, deep bedding, low stocking density.”
Latest figures from The Calf Forum, which was set up by the RSPCA and CiWF, revealed that over the past five years, the work of the Forum has contributed to an increase in the numbers of dairy bull calves being reared in Britain and a drop in the percentage of those being killed on farm or shipped abroad.
However last year the percentage of calves killed on farm and being shipped abroad started to creep up again.
Dr Julia Wrathall, head of the RSPCA’s farm animal science department, said: “Part of the solution to this problem is for more people to choose to buy British veal, ideally Freedom Food veal which is from farms, hauliers and abattoirs inspected to RSPCA welfare standards.
“When properly run and managed, veal calf rearing systems in the UK can provide animals with a good quality of life. Due to the diet and lifestyle of the calves the meat produced under this system is darker pink rather than very pale in colour and is known as rosť veal.”
Anyone who buys veal in the supermarket is urged to look for the Freedom Food logo or buy British. If eating in a restaurant and veal is on the menu please ask the manager to only stock Freedom Food or British.
For more information about where to buy RSPCA Freedom Food veal and recipes go online to www.rspca.org.uk/freedomfood
Wild baby owls found in boot of car
Friday May 25 2012
The RSPCA are investigating after two tawny owlets were found in the boot of a car during a routine police check.
It is thought the baby owls are just a month old and were taken from the wild in Chew Valley lake near Bristol last week. It is not known where they were being taken or why.
The baby birds were handed over to the RSPCA by police and are now being cared for at West Hatch Wildlife Centre in Taunton
Both owls were uninjured and are in good health. But as they are so young and separated from their parents they need to be looked after until they are old enough to fend for themselves. They will then be released back into the wild.
Peter Venn, manager at West Hatch, said: “We have no idea what these owls were doing in the boot of the car but it is a shame they were taken away from their natural environment.
“It can be hard to successfully raise young animals like this away from their parents, and we always advise that people leave baby animals where they are where possible.
“However these two are getting along brilliantly, having a real hoot. They’re eating well and mixing with the other owls we have in our care.”
One of the biggest challenges faced by RSPCA wildlife centres every year is the number of baby animals brought to them for care. Often they would have a better chance of survival if left where they were.
Normally they are picked up by people with the best of intentions mistakenly thinking the animals have been abandoned or are in need of help. But as long as it is not hurt or in danger, the best thing to do with a tawny owlet found on the ground is put it at the bottom of the tree where its nest is. The little birds can actually climb trees by themselves.
Remember to keep your pets cool as temperatures
Thursday 24 May 2012
Following the sudden rise in temperature over the last couple of days the RSPCA is urging owners not to leave pets in cars, conservatories or caravans whilst they are enjoying the sunshine.
In the three days since 21 May, the RSPCA has already received 195 reports of animals being left in hot places, 172 of which related to dogs. In the whole of May last year we received 448 reports of incidents involving hot animals, so in three days we have already taken almost half that total and the calls keep coming in.
As a result, the RSPCA is concerned that people are not taking on advice and are continuing to leave their animals in places that are far too hot. RSPCA Director of Communications, David Bowles, said: “Most people seem to know the ‘don’t leave dogs in hot cars’ message, but I think they just don’t think anything bad will happen to their pets, particularly if they’re just leaving them for a few minutes.
“What people need to realise is that the next animal to die in a hot car, conservatory or outbuilding could be their pet - that’s how serious this is.”
All too often, owners make the mistake of thinking that it is sufficient to leave a bowl of water or a window open for their pet but this is not enough to protect your pet from heatstroke, which can have fatal consequences. Even a hot garden without shade can be disastrous for an animal.
As an example, the temperature inside a vehicle can soar to 47 degrees within 60 minutes when the outside temperature is just 22 degrees.
Other key points:
All dogs will suffer, but some dogs are more prone to heatstroke. For example, dogs that are old, young, short nosed, long-haired, overweight or heavily muscled are more at risk, as well as dogs with certain diseases.
Cloud cover can disappear quickly.
Temperatures in air conditioned cars can reach the same temperature as outside within just five minutes of the air conditioning being turned off.
The most obvious sign of heat stroke in dogs is excessive panting and profuse salivation. Other signs include:
Overly red or purple gums
A rapid pulse
Lack of co-ordination, reluctance or inability to rise after collapsing, seizures, vomiting or diarrhoea
Heat stroke can result in coma or death in extreme instances.
Owners who fear their dog may be suffering from heatstroke should act quickly. Pets should be moved to a cooler spot straight away before ringing your vet for advice immediately.
Douse your dog with cool (not cold) water. You could put your dog in a shower and run cool water over him/her, spray your dog with cool water and place him/her in the breeze of a fan. Never cool your dog so much that he/she begins to shiver
Let your dog drink small amounts of cool water
Continue to douse your dog with cool water until his/her breathing starts to settle and then take him/her straight to the veterinary surgery
Number of horses in RSPCA care doubles in 12 months - Could you give a young horse a Stable Future?
Monday 14 May 2012
The RSPCA has launched an emergency appeal to find foster homes for hundreds of young horses as the number in our care has doubled in the past year.
We are currently looking after 600 ponies and horses which have suffered neglect and cruelty and almost half of them are youngsters.
To tackle the growing horse crisis the RSPCA has launched the Stable Future appeal to find fosterers to temporarily look after some of our 270 youngsters which are too young to be ridden.
Sally Learoyd, the RSPCA’s equine rehoming officer, said: “Over the past year we’ve seen a huge increase in the amount of horses being disowned or allowed to get into an appalling state because the trade in horses has collapsed.”
Young horses being sold in pubs for pocket money prices Sally added: “I’ve heard of young horses being sold for £5 – less than the price of a bottle of wine. I’ve heard of horses being bought and sold in pubs and we’ve come across a case of someone keeping a horse on a tower block balcony and feeding it on kitchen scraps.
“We have a never ending tide of young horses coming into our centres. Fostering our youngsters is a way that horse lovers can help us with this problem.”
The recession, rising hay costs and irresponsible breeding are thought to be to blame for the rising number of horses being neglected and abandoned.
One of the youngsters in the RSPCA’s care is Little Ted* (pictured above) who was found emaciated and collapsed in a stable and nursed back to health by the RSPCA.
The RSPCA has found new homes for a record number of horses over the past year but we simply cannot keep up with the flood of animals which need our help because of terrible neglect and cruelty.
We face a huge £3.2 million bill just to care for the influx of ponies and horses which does not include vet bill or prosecution costs.
What you can do to help
To help ease the crisis we are urging horsey heroes to foster one of our youngsters until it is old enough to be prepared for work and we can find it a new home.
Sally said: “Fostering is a great way for people to have the enjoyment of being around youngsters whilst helping us out in the short-term.
“Just like teenagers, these young horses need experience of life, a day to day routine and a guiding hand. Being a fosterer is a really rewarding experience. You can see these youngsters’ personalities change and develop as they grow.”
Liz Handford, from Carmarthenshire (pictured), has fostered five horses for the RSPCA. She said: “It’s very rewarding. If you’re fostering, you just get the fun part; it’s all about playing and having fun with the horses.
“You get the pleasure of having young horses around; seeing them, grooming them and watching them develop. It’s a real privilege and a pleasure.”
The youngsters available for fostering are aged between one and three and are all happy, healthy and handleable. They are microchipped, will have passports and tetanus vaccinations.
Foster carers must have experience handling horses, grazing and be able to take in a youngster for a minimum of six months. To apply log onto www.rspca.org.uk/stablefuture or call 0300 123 8000 for an application form.
Animal lovers who can’t take on a foster horse can also help by donating spare tack, rugs and equipment to the RSPCA or making a donation to our equine centres. Log onto the website to find out how.
RSPCA demands definite date for ban on wild animals in circuses - Will the Westminster government stay true to its word?
Wednesday, April 18 2012
The RSPCA is demanding a clear deadline date for a promised ban in England on wild animals in circuses.
Whoops of joy could be heard all over the country on 1 March when the government in Westminster announced that they would introduce a phase-in ban.
It was hoped the days of hauling circus animals like zebras, lions and tigers around the country for our entertainment were finally at an end.
But as the weeks have gone by, doubts have been raised over the true commitment to making these promises a reality.
Gavin Grant, RSPCA’s Chief Executive, said: “The question which needs to be asked is does the government intend to stay true to its word?
“We have been studying the details of the plans and find them vague and littered with contradictions.
“Nothing short of a proper ban will safeguard the welfare of these majestic animals. Everyone who cares about these animals agrees. So let’s get on with it."
Detailed study of the plans have revealed that:
The government has failed to set a deadline and remains vague about the details of a full ban.
The licensing scheme planned for the meantime will not safeguard the welfare of animals and may encourage circuses to get more wild animals.
In a letter to the RSPCA on 30 March from a civil servant at Defra wrote: “I am not aware we have ever suggested that the licensing scheme would be a ‘temporary’ measure...” This was despite the previously stated intentions to ban.
The RSPCA is asking those who agree with us to join our campaign now and write to Defra demanding a clear date now.
RSPCA struggling to keep up as horse crisis mounts - Charity stretched to limits – more than 500 horses in boarding
Monday 5 March 2012
The growing numbers of horses being neglected and needing to be taken into care is putting the RSPCA under pressure as never before, thanks to the continual breeding of horses by irresponsible owners and breeders.
Some horse owners and traders often buy or breed horses for which they cannot provide a substantial level of care and cannot sell in a declining market. They then expect organisations like the RSPCA to pick up the pieces, while charities receive criticism when they are not able to take each and every animal into their care.
By 16 February 2012, the number of complaints received about abandoned equines was already at 122, compared to 120 for the whole of January and February last year.
RSPCA chief inspector Cathy Hyde said: “People who have made a living from breeding and selling horses are failing to acknowledge that the animals’ value has dropped and they keep breeding although they have nowhere to keep the horses and have not accounted for the high prices of hay, straw and feed.
“This situation has got to stop. We have seen some ponies sold at markets for as little as £5 and the horses change hands on multiple occasions at numerous markets and sales, repeatedly compromising their health and welfare.
“The costs of euthanasia and gelding mean that many owners are also failing to pay for these, leaving sick and old horses to suffer and die, and leading to indiscriminate breeding amongst unneutered horses.
“We are, quite honestly, struggling to keep up with what is a mounting crisis.”
More than 500 horses in RSPCA care
By far the biggest problem that charities are facing is the growing number of horses which they are taking into their care. Often these animals are subject to prosecution cases and can stay in care for months or even years - and it can cost more than £5,000 to rehabilitate a pony.
The RSPCA takes in and rehomes hundreds of horses every year. In 2010, new homes were found for 156 horses. Incredibly, our dedicated team managed to find homes for an amazing 240 in 2011. However, there are still more than 500 horses currently being boarded on behalf of the RSPCA, most in private establishments and the charity just cannot keep up.
The number of times the RSPCA had to give welfare advice in relation to horses rose from 2,138 in 2010, to 2,176 in 2011. The advice ranged from urging owners to seek veterinary treatment, to providing more food, water or shelter. However, owners cannot always be found, particularly where they have left horses on someone else’s land.
The RSPCA describes the impossible situation it is often in when trying to work within the law to improve animal welfare whilst the public’s expectations of what we can do is much higher.
All calls received by the RSPCA have to be dealt with by a total number of 402 officers (inspectors, animal welfare officers and animal collection officers)*. This works out as one RSPCA officer for every 137,414 people in England and Wales** and is compared to a police force of 135,838 officers.
As well as trying to work to solve the problems of overpopulation and irresponsible breeding in the long term, the charity is making a desperate plea to the public to remember that we have finite resources and must always act within the law. This means that our officers cannot remove every horse even though we share peoples’ concerns for the creatures they see in fields and on roadsides day after day.
RSPCA equine rehoming officer, Sally Learoyd, said: “We have been overwhelmed with enquiries from well-meaning people who believe that we are able to step in and remove animals straight away. We share their frustration that there are horses in fields which may seem as if they don’t have water or food but we do not have any powers to remove these horses unless they are suffering or their needs are not being met under the Animal Welfare Act.
“We want our supporters and others to understand that we can only offer the owners, where they are known, advice to improve less than satisfactory conditions – we cannot force them to comply with this advice nor take away their animals without veterinary support.
“It can be heartbreaking for our officers to try their best to improve horses’ lives within the law, only to be criticised for not being able to do more.”
The RSPCA does not hesitate to prosecute irresponsible or cruel owners where possible and achieved 175 convictions in 2010 (2011 figures to be released later in the year).
The RSPCA is currently training specialist equine officers to provide support to officers on the ground in equine-related investigations.
In May this year the RSPCA will run a fostering campaign, appealing for temporary homes for horses and ponies. This will mean the horses can be given more time and work, improving their chances of finding new permanent homes whilst helping to ease the mounting costs of keeping them in private boarding.***
In order to draw attention to the RSPCA’s rehoming work there will be a brand new class at this year’s Equifest, a high profile horse show in Peterborough, on 18 August 2012. The RSPCA is running its first ‘Rescue Horse or Pony of the Year’ class to promote the adoption of rescued equines and to show that they can go on to lead healthy and successful lives.
The RSPCA has a special section of its website dedicated to horses. Please visit http://www.rspca.org.uk/allaboutanimals/horses/rehoming/ownership to view some of the beautiful horses currently looking for new permanent homes.
RSPCA research shows public wants ban on illegal eggs ~ Research by the RSPCA has revealed that almost eight out of ten people in England and Wales (78 per cent) want action to stop eggs laid by hens in illegal barren battery cages coming into the UK.
Thursday, 1 December 2011
On 1 January 2012 it will be illegal
for farmers across Europe to keep hens in conventional barren battery
cages. Farmers in the UK are believed to be prepared for the new law but
elsewhere in Europe a large number of producers are not ready - meaning an
estimated 84 millions hens* will still be kept in cruel cramped cages
below even minimum welfare requirements.
YouGov survey about hen welfare has revealed that 78 per cent of people in England and Wales would support a trade ban on illegal eggs.
With just a month to go until the barren battery cage ban the RSPCA is calling for the dithering European Commission to take action.
David Bowles, director of communications at the RSPCA, said: “We want quick, decisive action to stop the trade in these illegal eggs as well as rigorous enforcement of the new legislation and tough penalties for those farmers flouting it.
“Shoppers are increasingly buying higher welfare eggs in the supermarket – allowing illegal eggs into the UK would be a slap in the face for the public and a backward step for millions of hens. The RSPCA wants to see action now – before it’s too late.”
The Welfare of Laying Hens Directive outlaws the use of conventional barren battery cages in favour of other systems - barn, free-range, organic or so-called ‘enriched’ cages.
‘Enriched’ cages give hens a nesting, scratching and perching area and a little bit more usable space, but still amounting to less than an A4 sheet of paper per bird. The RSPCA believes no hen should be kept in a cage but the new legislation is a step in the right direction.
Most whole eggs on sale in the UK are laid by British hens so are expected to be perfectly legal however it may be more difficult to trace the origin of any imported liquid egg used as ingredients in products, particularly because some European producers may have a mix of some legal and illegal cages at the same farm.
The RSPCA want the new battery cage legislation to be strictly enforced by European Union member states, however it can take more than a year to bring a case to the European Court of Justice and in the meantime millions of illegal eggs laid by hens kept in illegal conditions could be used as ingredients in products which find their ways on to the shelves in the UK.
To stop this happening the RSPCA wants to see a trade ban imposed to stop illegal eggs being sold outside the country where they were produced.
Alice Clark, senior scientific officer at the RSPCA, said: “Farmers have had 13 years to get rid of their cruel barren battery cages, there really is no excuse for any producer to still be using them after the deadline.
“This historic piece of legislation is meant to improve the lives of millions of hens, it’s outrageous that next year almost a quarter of all egg production in Europe* is expected to come from illegal barren battery cages.
“It adds insult to injury that with just a month to go there is no measure in place at a European or member state level to stop these illegal eggs, coming into the UK whole or as ingredients in food such quiches, ready-meals and cakes.”
To find out more about our campaign against cages, or how to contact politicians to call for a trade ban, log on: http://www.rspca.org.uk/
Stuck for present ideas this festive season? How
about financing some fish soup to help rehabilitate a poorly seal, or
microwavable blankets to reheat underweight hedgehogs at risk from the
Tuesday 22 November 2011
These virtual gifts from the RSPCA –
www.gifts.rspca.org.uk - are just two ways the public can help the
charity care for the multitude of needy wild animals that come through its
doors each year – from pipistrelle bats and snowy owls, to fallow deer,
warblers, badgers and herons.
In 2010, about 1700 hedgehogs were cared for by the RSPCA’s wildlife centres, with many kept warm thanks to a cosy snuggle pad – available for £15 as an unusual but much coveted present for hoglets (baby hedgehogs) such as these pictured.
“Young hedgehogs can come into our care after being orphaned or through the colder months if they haven’t managed to reach a suitable weight for hibernation. Hoglets born later in the year can need a bit of TLC and some extra food to get them through the winter,” said Sophie Adwick, RSPCA wildlife scientist.
“The treatment we offer to wild animals will vary according to the species and the problem, but the care we provide can definitely be enhanced through the extra funding our virtual gifts raise. So these Christmas presents really can make a difference,” she added.
As a snapshot, last year the four RSPCA wildlife centres cared for around 215 seals, 300 foxes, 156 badgers, and 75 deer. A huge number and variety of birds also come into RSPCA care; and this is only the wildlife! The RSPCA also helps many, many pets, horses, donkeys and farm animals in need.
So what’s on offer from the RSPCA for discerning shoppers with a conscience this Christmas?
∑ £26 will pay for a fish soup for seals too sick or small to swallow their catch whole
∑ £100 will fund a new incubator, to help young wildlife survive
∑ £10 will cover one night’s bed and breakfast for a lost cat or dog
∑ £15 will help finance an investigation to break up a dog fighting ring
∑ £40 will get a pair of cow ‘shoofs’: breathable shoe bandages for a lame cow’s hooves.
Shoppers simply visit
www.gifts.rspca.org.uk, choose a present, select whether the recipient
should have a printed or emailed card, and add a personalised message.
Other gifts, both virtual and physical, along with a range of Christmas cards are also available on the website.
RSPCA calls for CCTV in every slaughterhouse ~ The RSPCA welcomes efforts to encourage slaughterhouses to install CCTV cameras but wants to see the measure made compulsory in all abattoirs.
Dr Marc Cooper, senior
scientific manager from the RSPCA’s farm animals science team was asked to
address the FSA Board meeting yesterday (TUES) about the RSPCA’s views on
CCTV in slaughterhouses.
The board members resolved to continue encouraging abattoirs to install CCTV systems and approved some guidelines for best practice. But the FSA said it needed more information before it recommended to Government ministers that CCTV should be compulsory in all slaughterhouses.
Speaking after the meeting Dr Cooper said: “The RSPCA is pleased the FSA is encouraging the installation of CCTV cameras in slaughterhouses but we would like it to be mandatory in all abattoirs.
“The public has a right to expect that all farmed animals have as painless and humane an end to their lives as possible. We know this is an issue of huge importance to our supporters and the general public.
“The RSPCA firmly believes CCTV in slaughterhouses can be a good additional tool to help improve animal welfare. This is why we made it a requirement within the RSPCA farm animal standards that all abattoirs which are members of the Freedom Food scheme installed CCTV cameras by the start of this month (NOV).
“Many major supermarkets are already demanding CCTV in the slaughterhouses from which they source the meat they sell and abattoirs themselves recognise the benefits of having cameras in place.
“Not only are cameras a good deterrent against acts of animal cruelty and poor practices but they also have very positive uses, as a security measure and as a useful training aid for slaughter men, vets and meat hygiene inspectors to ensure standards are maintained.
“Obviously cameras should not be used as the only means of safeguarding animal welfare and they can never replace good training and competent staff.”
The RSPCA has strongly encouraged abattoirs to install CCTV systems for many years. As of 1 November 2011 it is mandatory for all abattoirs in the Freedom Food scheme have CCTV cameras giving a clear view of animals in several crucial areas of the abattoir, from the animals being unloaded on arrival through to death.
The footage must be kept for at least three months and must be available to be viewed by Freedom Food field assessors or RSPCA farm livestock officers during routine and unannounced visits.
Under forthcoming EU legislation as of January 2013 all abattoirs in the UK will have to employ a specially trained Animal Welfare Officer to oversee the welfare of all animals at the slaughterhouse – an important development originally called for by the RSPCA.
Dr Cooper added: “EU Governments listened to the RSPCA’s call for the appointment of animal welfare officers and we now hope that the FSA will recommend to UK ministers that CCTV cameras should be compulsory in all slaughterhouses.
“We firmly believe it will make the slaughter process more transparent and improve welfare for hundreds of millions of farm animals in the UK.”
Governments must be good eggs and stand up for hen welfare ~ The RSPCA today warned that time is running out to protect shoppers from illegal eggs which will not meet minimum welfare standards.
European Union member states agreed back in 1999 to outlaw keeping hens in
conventional battery cages by 1 January 2012.
All producers in the UK are expected to be ready for the new law but, despite having more than 12 years to change, about a third of cage eggs from elsewhere in Europe are not expected to come from systems that comply with the new legislation – meaning about 84 million hens* will still be kept in illegal conventional battery cages.
Today (NOV 1) – with just two months until the change in law – the RSPCA is calling on Defra and the Welsh Government** to ensure importers and food manufacturers have robust traceability processes in place and set up a rigorous checking mechanism to ensure only legal eggs and egg products are imported.
Alice Clark, senior scientist from the RSPCA farm animals department, said: “Defra and the Welsh Government need to take decisive and tough action to stop any illegal eggs entering into the UK from elsewhere in Europe and undermining this important legislation advance in animal welfare.
“If nothing is done to stop these illegal eggs coming in the UK it could be seen as rewarding producers who are still using cruel conventional battery cages.
“There is a real danger that shoppers will unwittingly buy illegal eggs, which will not even meet minimum welfare standards.
“It will be particularly difficult to trace illegal eggs when they’ve been used as ingredients in foods such as ready meals, sandwiches, cakes and Yorkshire puddings, where they don’t have to be labelled with production system or country of origin.
“The RSPCA has been campaigning for more than three decades to end the use of cages and this new legislation is a step in the right direction, but time is running out to take action to protect shoppers from illegal eggs.”
The Welfare of Laying Hens Directive outlaws the use of conventional battery cages in favour of other systems such as free-range and barn but does still allow so-called ‘enriched’ battery cages which although they have slightly more space, a scratching area, nesting area and perch, still provide less usable space than an A4 sheet of paper for each hen.
‘Enriched’ cages still impose a severe restriction and do not allow the birds to carry out all their natural behaviours like dustbathing and foraging properly.
The RSPCA does not believe hens should be kept in cages at all and has been very pleased to see demand for eggs from barn, free-range and organic systems rising significantly since the 1990s.
The UK has about 34 million hens laying around nine thousand million eggs every year. About 80 per cent of the eggs consumed in the UK were laid here, the remaining 20 per cent come from abroad and potentially illegal systems, and are mostly used as an ingredient in food. *
There are half a dozen acts which could help combat illegal eggs:
� The European Commission to allow member states to implement an intra community trade ban to stop illegal eggs being traded outside the countries where they were laid.
� Defra and the Welsh Government to announce immediate action to protect consumers from buying or consuming illegal eggs by setting up a rigorous checking mechanism to ensure only legal eggs and egg products are allowed into the UK from elsewhere in Europe.
� Defra to work with member states which are expected to have non-compliant producers to prevent illegal eggs entering the UK.
� Food processors, manufacturers and supermarkets to have robust traceability systems in place to ensure that eggs (usually liquid) used as ingredients are not illegal, especially when some sources may have both conventional and enriched battery cages on site.
� The European Commission to take swift action with meaningful financial penalties against any countries with non-compliant egg producers after 1 January 2012.
� Shoppers to buy cage-free eggs in a bid to be sure they are not supporting producers with illegal battery cages.
The RSPCA encourages shoppers to buy
eggs from cage-free hens – such as barn, free-range and organic, and if
they have a Freedom Food logo on the box it means they come from farms
inspected to the RSPCA’s strict welfare standards.
Foods such as cakes or mayonnaise made with free-range eggs will often be clearly advertised with the information on the packaging or in the ingredients list.
Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Marks & Spencer and The Co-operative use free range eggs in their own brand products or shoppers can look for Extra Special from Asda, The Best from Morrisons and The Finest range from Tesco.
To find out more about our campaign against cages, or how to contact politicians, log on: http://www.rspca.org.uk
Ex-police dog handler sentenced for allowing two dogs to die in his car Wednesday
A Met Police dog handler has been
banned from keeping dogs for three years following the death of his
two dogs that he left trapped in his car on a hot day in June.
Westminster Magistrates Court heard today (Wednesday) that on Sunday 26 June Ian Craven, who was at the time a sergeant with the Metropolitan Police, brought his dogs to the Keston Dog Training Centre in Kent.
He was due to spend the day at the Olympic site in London in meetings, so had intended to kennel his dogs – a four-year-old Malinois called Chay and a six-month-old German Shepherd dog called Tilly - at Keston before leaving. However, the court was told he forgot they were in his car, which was parked out of sight of police staff, and left Keston for London.
Magistrates heard that when he realised several hours later that his dogs were in his vehicle he got in touch with the dog training centre and staff tried to break into his car to release the dogs.
Both dogs had been left in the hot car for several hours and were extremely ill when staff discovered them. They were rushed to a nearby vet but, despite attempts to save them, Tilly died naturally and Chay was put to sleep shortly after to prevent further suffering. The cause of death was given as heat stroke and hyperthermia.
Met Office information showed the temperature that day was up to 16.1 degrees centigrade at 7am, and had risen to 22.6 degrees centigrade by 11am.
The court heard that in a previous incident in 2004, Craven had left a spaniel in a hot car at Keston that had also died.
Craven admitted two charges of causing unnecessary suffering under section 4 of the Animal Welfare Act.
RSPCA chief inspector Dermot Murphy said: “When this incident happened the RSPCA was asked by the Metropolitan Police Service to conduct the investigation.
“Throughout the investigation the RSPCA has received total cooperation from the Metropolitan Police and any information or evidence that we have requested has been provided to us. I would like to put on record my appreciation to them for this cooperation in what has been a distressing case for all concerned.
“Ian Craven for the second time, left dogs in his vehicle, on a hot day and forgot about them. This is an unacceptable action and one that is aggravated by the fact that he was a professional dog handler and trainer at the time of the incident.
“The suffering that both Chay and Tilly would have experienced would have been substantial as they overheated in his vehicle. Ian Craven’s negligent actions caused the suffering and death of the dogs Chay and Tilly.
“The court has recognised this and has sentenced him accordingly.
“The RSPCA encounters too many situations every year where dogs have been left in vehicles in situations where they overheat. Dogs should never be left alone in cars on a warm day.”
Craven said in mitigation that the incident had left him with a huge sense of shame and embarrassment.
RSPCA call for live transport boat licence to be revoked
Tuesday 4 October 2011
The RSPCA is calling for a boat being used to transport animals from the UK to France to have its licence revoked.
The Joline has been transporting calves and sheep from Ramsgate in Kent since May this year (2011) after a livestock ramp at Dover port was damaged.
The RSPCA has serious concerns about the boat – which has been photographed with pictures of popular children’s character Shaun the Sheep on the funnels.
Julia Wrathall, head of the RSPCA’s farm animal science team, said: “The RSPCA is completely opposed to the long-distance transport of live animals for further fattening and slaughter because it is unnecessary and can result in serious stress and suffering.
“Research has shown that animals, particularly calves under four-weeks-old, can suffer fatigue, dehydration, distress and in extreme cases death during long journeys, particularly as the law allows them to travel at temperatures up to 35 degrees.
“The RSPCA has very serious concerns about the Joline as it has an average speed of just six knots (7mph) and has taken up to six hours to get from Ramsgate to Calais – almost double the journey time from Dover.
“The ship has a very shallow bottom making it unsteady in rough sea conditions and further causing suffering to animals onboard, which legally could be calves as young as 14-days-old.
“The design of the ship coupled with the journey time and the likelihood that sea conditions will worsen over winter, means that the Joline is completely unsuitable and should not be used to transport animals.”
In the 1990s about 500,000 calves a year were being transported from the UK to the continent but trade stopped for a decade in 1996 due to fears of spreading BSE and later in 2008 the Dutch imposed an import ban on British calves due to fears over Bovine TB.
The RSPCA has been successfully working with other charities, retailers and industry over the past five years to find alternatives to transporting male dairy calves to Europe, such as producing higher welfare rose veal and beef.
Live trade started again in May 2006 with Animal Health figures showing in 2009 that 437,085 live animals were transported from the UK for further fattening and slaughter – some destined to be reared in conditions which would be illegal in the UK.
The Latvian-registered roll-on roll-off boat was originally built to transport tanks across rivers and has been upgraded for ocean transit.
Shipping data has shown that the Joline has taken up to six hours to cross the channel from Ramsgate.
The legal journey time for unweaned calves is nine hours with an hour rest and then a further nine hours travel. For sheep can travel for 14 hours with an hour rest and another 14 hours travel. The rest stop is onboard the lorry but it cannot be on the boat.
Julia Wrathall said: “The boat already has a long journey time across the channel, any hold-up in port or during the trip could put the hauliers in danger of breaking EU laws governing journey times as well as increasing the risk of welfare problems for the animals onboard.”
The RSPCA is calling for an eight-hour journey time limit when live transport rules are reviewed by the EU later this year (2011).
We also believe animals should be slaughtered as close to their point of origin as possible and are in favour of a carcass-only trade.
The RSPCA is calling on Animal Health to revoke the boat’s licence to carry live animals and for campaigners to visit the RSPCA website to support a petition (www.rspca.org.uk/getinvolved/campaigns/livetransport/-/article/CAM_livetransportation) calling for a maximum eight hour journey time.
extra care to stop cats dying from antifreeze poisoning
We are calling on the public and all antifreeze manufacturers to ensure that this winter does not have fatal consequences for cats.
Following the tragic case of five cats dying from antifreeze poisoning on the same day in Norwich on 30 December, we are renewing our plea for the public to take extra care when using the product.
Increase in cases of antifreeze poisoning
We are dealing with more and more cases of cats suffering from antifreeze poisoning every year. In 2007, we took 41 calls but by 2009 this had shot up to 259. By November last year, 248 calls had already been taken.
The chemical ethylene glycol, found in some household brands of antifreeze, has potentially lethal consequences when ingested by cats.
Cats seem to enjoy the taste of this ingredient but they can soon suffer agonising deaths if they eat or drink it.
RSPCA scientific officer for companion animals, Dr Kerry Westwood said:
Every year the RSPCA is made aware of tragic incidences where cats are sadly believed to have died from ingesting antifreeze and we are deeply concerned and saddened by this.
Many of us are not aware of just how toxic antifreeze is so it’s really important that we all take care when using, storing and disposing of it. It could save an animal from an incredibly painful death.
Disposing of antifreeze responsibly
The public should take extra care when using antifreeze to avoid spillages or leaks as cats could be lapping it up, either neat or when water coolant leaks from car radiators.
Left over antifreeze and water coolant should also be disposed of responsibly. The safest way is to take it in a suitable container to a council refuse site which should have facilities for disposing of hazardous fluids.
There are concerns that cases of antifreeze poisoning could be deliberate. Under the Animal Welfare Act, those found guilty of causing unnecessary suffering face a maximum £20,000 fine and/or six months in prison.
Preventing antifreeze poisonings
One of the main manufacturers of antifreeze has taken steps to try and prevent poisonings occurring. Comma Oil, which supplies antifreeze to companies including Halfords, has added an ingredient to make it unpleasant to swallow the product.
However, there is currently no legislation to make such additives a requirement. There is also no law governing how people should dispose of antifreeze when it is used domestically.
Dealing with suspected antifreeze poisoning
After ingesting antifreeze, cats can suffer symptoms including vomiting, seizures, appearing drunk and sleepy and an increased breathing rate. They will also often try to drink more fluids.
Owners should contact a vet immediately if they suspect that their pet may have been in contact with the chemical or if they see any warning signs or symptoms. The sooner the cat is treated, the better their chances of surviving.
If anyone has any information about suspected antifreeze poisonings they can contact the RSPCA in confidence on 0300 1234 999.