MARK ALDRIDGE - Community Advocate "Independent candidate" for MAKIN a differnce
RSPCA…WHERE DO YOUR DONATIONS END UP?

"Millions of your donated dollars in many recent  RSPCA prosecutions, have resulted in the death of healthy animals and the persecution of a dedicated animal carers, at the expense of genuine rescue and shelter services"


The RSPCA are a private corporation, who market themselves in such a way that money raised is to rescue animals, well this is what most donors believe.

Money is raised through a variety of campaigns, the million paws walk, social media, news reporting and telemarketing campaigns to list only a few, they also receive money from the sale of goods, insurances and most recently through using their name to promote animals related produce like chicken and eggs.

Not all money raised makes it into the RSPCA’s hands, marketing companies charge for handling some of the process, in some cases taking up to 80% of the money raised, I bring this up simply as a reminder that when $$$$ values are mentioned here, for every 1 million they spend, well over $5 million may have had to be raised to cover that expenditure.

Expenditure covers the RSPCA inspectorate, their shelter operations and their marketing, so let’s start with their inspectorate, I will use a recent and ongoing case study “May V RSPCA WA” although there are many similar cases that paint a similar picture.

Animal cruelty under the legislation in most states is policed by the RSPCA inspectors, who are given powers under state animal welfare legislation.

Most Australians see the RSPCA’s role as one of prosecution those who abuse animals in a deliberate way, or those who do not look after their animals, those that dump animals and the like, although the line between deliberate abuse and animal rescue itself in recent times has blurred quite considerably.

The May case is interesting as it is opens up the debate needed to reform and refine the term “Animal abuse” Mrs May had been rescuing animals for over a decade, all the local vets knew her, the local council rangers (with the same powers as the RSPCA inspectors) were regular visitors, and had never found any reason for concern, all the animals were contained on her property’s, unable to roam the streets.

The RSPCA WA sent inspectors out to check on Mrs May, finding one rabbit that had what they thought was an injury, and going on to seize that rabbit, rather than use other options like an order to have Mrs Mays vets look at it.

While there the inspectors asked her to clean up around the place, so Mrs May complied calling ion some friends from the animal welfare industry to help.

“I will note here what the procedural guidelines recommend, as I believe WA legislation is one of the better versions in the country” Here is a graph which covers the issue well.


 
As you can see by this graph, what ought to have happened if the Inspectors have any cause for concern was the issue of animal welfare notices, which could include, cleaning up, presenting animals for vet checks, lowering animal numbers or improving available enclosures, something I believe meets community expectations.


Mrs May contacted the RSPCA on several occasions asking about the health of her Rabbit and asking when it would be returned, with the reply’s that it was doing well and would be back soon, which seems to be in line with community expectations.








Approximately 1 week later the RSPCA returned with several inspectors when Mrs May was not home and seized every animal, approximately 139 animals, mainly cats and rabbits, but also 1 dog, ducks, birds and canary’s, I note here the warrant used was inappropriate and incorrectly addressed, but for the purposes of this overview, I shall refrain from going into the legal aspects of this case in too much detail.

Now at this stage one must wonder why they seized every animal, obviously being rescued animals, some were not in perfect health, but veterinary reports clearly show that those with health issues were undergoing professional treatment.

All the animals had shelter, food and water, and may I add, plenty of room to move compared to the usual shelter environment, they were receiving the best treatment and their food was top class.

This leaves us to debate living conditions, Mrs May had two houses, with enclosed rear yards, in the seizure videos, it was clear animals lived in her home, but the homes was clean and tidy, Mrs May had moved some of the cats into temporary areas to do some renovations as a result of requests by the RSPCA on their first visit, but an example would be a single bedroom, with two cats, food and water and one litter tray, which appeared to anger the inspectors?

Now Mrs May had complied with all directions, had never breached any orders, had no previous convictions or even the slightest issues with the way in which she looked after her animals, so the only grounds for the seizure appears to be the amount of animals, spread over the 2 homes she owned, but I can find no legislative provisions for seizing animals for this reason.

“Receipts from local vets showed Mrs may had invested over $200,000 on treating her rescues over the past decade her own money might I add”

So let’s pause for a little debate, the RSPCA not only arrived when Mrs May was not home, she was out having a rescued rabbit treated at the vet ($400) they attended with the Media, so they were intent on seizing all of the animals in front of a camera, why? If they had major concerns after the first visit, where was their urgent warrant, why was there a long delay before they returned, or more importantly, where were the orders of compliance, expected under the department of agriculture’s procedural guidelines?

Here is one of the media reports, and some words from it.

"The RSPCA is currently experiencing a crisis, after an additional 250 sick, injured and neglected animals have come into RSPCA's Malaga care centre since Christmas time," RSPCA chief executive David van Ooran said in a statement.

The number of animals in RSPCA's Malaga facility is expected to reach more than 400 by tonight - 230 above capacity.

This week's raids come after a December raid on a suburban Perth property which saw more than 130 animals seized.

I wonder how many of you readers, have noticed the point raised here, if the animals were indeed seized as a result of “the number of animals Mrs May had” then were taken to the RSPCA shelter in Malaga, the RSPCA then go onto say they are 230 above capacity, meaning the animals were back in an over-crowed situation, now I will remind you of the conditions of the animals, they went from two cats to a single bedroom sized enclosure, to two animals to a crate.

Mrs May and her Vets, both contacted the RSPCA with grave concerns for the sick animals, offering up their medications, Mrs Mays vets offered to attend the RSPCA shelter to help identify which ones were sick and their ongoing treatment regime, the RSPCA refused.

I will note here that the RSPCA shelter records obtained under FOI, show some of these animals waited months for checks ups, resulting in many dying or being put down, the most recent vet checks indicate many if not all the animals became sick in custody.

Mrs May until this day has never given up on trying to get her animals back, she applied to the State administration tribunal for the return of her animals, demanding to see them, it was here she started finding out they were slowly being killed off, the Justice then reminded the RSPCA they had to return the animals, because they had not pressed any kind of charges against Mrs May (The legislation requires the animals to be returned if no charges are laid within 4 months).
The RSPCA did not appear to be able to comply, as they could not return all her animals, so they raced off to the magistrates court and filed charges of animal credulity against Mrs May, 139 charges.

The charges laid were invalid at law, and ended up being dropped some 12 months later, the animals were never returned, as of December 2014, only 42 were left in any condition to be released, of these up to 20 may not have even been Mrs Mays, and the RSPCA chief inspector at the time, could not even guarantee any would make it out alive, even though Mrs May had many shelters backing her up and willing to take them if the RSPCA would not comply and return them to their rightful owner.

I will also note here that the RSPCA during the first 14 months of this case were seeking nearly $50,000 per month from Mrs May for the upkeep of the animals, plus veterinary and legal costs, amounting to near 1 million dollars in damages, something that again does not meet the procedural guidelines or community expectations.

Even if one was to take the position of labeling Mrs may a hoarder, which has not proven to be the case, one would not have expected the RSPCA’s actions to be appropriate if they indeed had concerns of mental illness.

The CEO of the Department of Agriculture knew all of these was happening, documents obtained under freedom of information applications, clearly showed the Inspectors were under investigation, that the charges laid were being questioned, as were the murder of healthy animasl, in fact all the issues listed above were being questioned by the man who awarded the RSPCA inspectors their powers, this was back in March 2013 a few months after the seizure.

I shall add one of the pages to confirm my statements (Hundreds of pages of evidence is available to support this blog)


 






















So lets get back to “Where do your donations end up” and what do they achieve.

In the May case, of the 139 animals seized, on what could be considered inadequate grounds ( I will let you judge that point for yourselves) none may ever make it out of their shelter alive, the RSPCA have spent around $1.6 million plus on this case, Mrs May had her savings devastated and had to borrow a further $200,000 at 73 years of age, which will result in her losing her home, to try and fight for the release of her animals, even if that release was into the care of no kill shelters that had their hands up to take them.  

Mrs May will at this stage (1/1/15) face no charges of animal cruelty, is under a contract to remain silent, as are most of the RSPCA staff that resigned or were sacked over this case, or for questioning the RSPCA CEO, not exactly what I would have thought would be an outcome that meets the community’s expectations, especially in relation to the spending of public donations, what are your thoughts so far?

The RSPCA also apparently took on a legal battle with DAFWA (the department of agriculture) ion an attempt to stop successful Freedom of Information applications, to ensure they could continue to control their public image, by withholding information their donors rightfully deserve to know.

http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/wa/WAICmr/2014/22.html

The information used to over view this case, includes FOI statements, my attendance in the courts, whistle blowers from within the RSPCA including the ex-Chief inspector, general inspectors, vets, the RSPCA vets, the in house RSPCA past prosecutor, past board members and many others, who to this day we cannot find a media source or government department for them to come forward to about this and many others issues with in the RSPCA upper management.

Millions of your donations resulted in the death of rescued animals, and the persecution of a dedicated animal carer, and the waste of government and judicial services.
If the RSPCA in WA had adhered to the law and the prosecution and procedural guidelines we only find in place in WA, Mrs May would have received support and direction, she could have continued to use here time and savings to rescue animals in an agreeable manner for all parties. The RSPCA would not have ended up over capacity, allowing them to take in more needy animals, and millions of dollars of YOUR donations would have been better spent.

“It has become a regular process to find tens of thousands of dollars being spent on prosecutions where support services and education would have a far better outcome for the animals, their carers and the hard earned resources available to animal welfare.”
** Intention is the much over looked action here and in animal welfare legislation, there is a huge difference between those who deliberately abuse or  ignore the needs of animals, and those who love and care for them but may not be able to achieve the higher quality of services available to the RSPCA who have million dollar bank accounts and top class facilities.

The problem here, is no lessons were learned, because there was no accountability, no final court scrutiny and no public debate on the case, like most if not all actions with in the RSPCA, due to a trend to use their powers to silence the truth rather than use it to learn from.
 
So let’s look at how much the RSPCA spend on administration and running their shelters and their success rates in animal rescue.

It is here the truth also gets a good slice of professional spin from their very apt marketing and legal team, and what would we expect when we look at their board members, because rather than a selection of names from the animal rescue community, we find marketing experts, lawyers,  CEO’s of local government,  company directors, community relations experts, advertising experts, even petroleum companies executives and the Banking and finance industries, it is rare to find members with any experience in actual animal welfare or rescue.

When I did an investigation into re-homing facts and figures I was terrified to find that even their general posted facts and figure that include return to owner, that many branches had a kill rate as high as 50% for dogs and 70% for cats.

“The inclusion of return to owner in their facts and figures does not allow the true facts to come out, it is what happens to animals left in the RSPCA’s care that is most important to animal lovers, and this ought to include those killed in their pounds before transfers, and those that are killed elsewhere, one could come to the conclusion that the truth may bring more support by way of donations and support. “

Making matters worse was the reasons used for euthanasia, with behavioural issues leading the score card at between 65 and 70% and excuse also applied to new born kittens for instance, when one digs deeper, it is not unusual to find an outsourcing of killing, from selective use of pounds to the sending animals to other places to be put down, sections labelled other or transferred in their facts and figures are still yet to be explained.

If people are to donate their hard earned savings to a high profile charity, community expectations would be towards transparency rather than secrecy and censorship that have found its place within the society over the past decade.

Their income and expenditure is divided into 4 sections, inspectorate and rescue, fundraising legacies and marketing, animal operations and corporate administrations.

Over the past few years, the RSPCA balance sheets in most states show a sharp decline in profits, with many states posting huge losses; internal leaked documents expose moves to cut down on the services they provide like shelter operations, prosecutions and rescue initiatives, rather than administrations costs to cover sharp increases in wages, bonuses, silence payments and administration fee’s.

Animal operations now only receives around 40% of yearly expenditure,  increases in re-homing being bragged in recent years has been the direct result of the improved identity of lost animals, enabling more to be returned to owners, rather than any increase in the society’s ability to re-home abandoned animals.

Over the past 18 months, I have had so many RSPCA staff, volunteers and inspectors come to me for support, in the hope that their voices could drive change in the society they once loved and cherished, one must question what is going on with in the society, that was once an organisation dedicated to the protection of animals, which now appears to have been taken over and become a powerful corporation holding the mighty dollar and their awarded powers above the genuine welfare of animals, I have several articles that break down their financials and include the documents that will enable you the reader to come to your own conclusions.

The way forward from my investigation, is a step by step process, starting with handing back powers of prosecution to the government and state solicitors office to handle, to both remove any conflict of interests and abuse of process issues. A full government enquiry into censorship and financial issues within the society, and to set ground rules of an equitable nature in relation to the publishing of their facts and figures.  A nation-wide set of procedural and prosecution guidelines to ensure due process, to be overseen by an independent body, and finally to ensure their boards have a balanced range of members in relation to the inclusion of members with genuine experience in animal welfare and rescue.

Mark Aldridge

Animal welfare advocate


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