In summary, Mr Wooler found the RSPCA to be fulfilling its role as animal protectors. The report highlighted the unique remit of the RSPCA as a successful prosecuting animal welfare organisation, whose prosecutions team "enjoys good standing before the courts for the effective manner in which its cases are presented." While it also stated that the RSPCA operates in an "unstructured and haphazard” environment, the report also asserted that the Society is not only making a huge contribution to animal welfare, it is also "fulfilling a very significant constitutional role" whose contribution in terms of expertise and resources is huge and "simply too valuable to be lost.”
Public support for the RSPCA was at an all-time high with people taking to Twitter and Face Book with unsolicited messages of encouragement. Below are just a few examples of the hundreds of unsolicited messages they received via Twitter and Facebook:
“Let’s not forget, if the hunts didn’t keep breaking the law there’d be no need to prosecute them! Well done @RSPCA_official”
“RSPCA I am so impressed with the recent campaigns and your brilliant work I am upping my donation!!! I am behind all recent decisions 100 PERCENT !!! Well done everyone !!!!”
“Completely and 100% support @RSPCA_official. #dontlikeitdontfollowme”
“I was absolutely disgusted to read such a biased, one-sided article. I hope they’re held to account for such misleading, damaging ‘journalism’. Well done to all of you for everything you do for animals.”
“@RSPCA_official : money spent prosecuting law breaking animal abusers is money well spent!”
“@MailOnline not printing comments in support of @RSPCA_official, hardly surprising from the biased, bitter journos on the daily fail!!”
“@RSPCA_official RSPCA will be fine – back-stabbing and smearing part of today’s sad society.”
This was last year, and for the first few months of 2015 the vitriol against the RSPCA seemed to die down. That is until the charity decided to prosecute the Cattistock hunt on film evidence provided by the IFAW. Unfortunately, the RSPCA decided to drop the case against the Dorset based Cattistock on the 18th of March 2015. The evidence upon which they built their case was supplied by IFAW, but with the Law being as it is at the present time, it was decided that the footage was not enough to secure a conviction.
Look at the footage here and decide for yourself - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IcQucQhxcv8
Hunts caught out breaking the law claim accidental hunting and these claims are hard to disprove at times. Accidental hunting is a loophole in the hunting Act, inserted by the pro hunt MPs when the legislation was going through the Commons. It is a ploy often used today when hounds are observed chasing foxes. Of course the Countryside Alliance is full of self-righteous indignation, with their campaigns manager accusing the RSPCA of a vendetta against law abiding hunts.
Penny Little, the POWA monitor whose footage helped convict the Heythrop, described the situation as a complete and utter scandal. She went on to say that if the RSPCA is bullied in to not taking on hunting prosecutions it is tantamount to state-approved anarchy in the countryside.
The RSPCA’s chief legal officer spoke of the society having to have ‘proportionality’, and agreed that the expense of prosecuting hunts and huntsmen for breaking the ban on hunting meant money wouldn’t be spent stopping cruelty to pets.
The state of play at the moment is far from satisfactory. It is common knowledge that many hunts ride out every week with the express intention of hunting foxes in contravention of the law. The CPS and the police are less than enthusiastic and the animal charities against blood sports have their hands tied up the accidental hunting and research clauses in the Act. It seems clear however, that as long as hunters continue to train their dogs on fox scent, those dogs are going to chase and kill foxes if they are given the opportunity.
Perhaps with a change of government in 2015, we can lobby to have the Act strengthened. It would be a good idea to remove the accidental hunting clause and stop the hunts using fox scent to train the dogs. The offence of hunting a wild mammal with a pack of dogs should carry a jail term and perhaps hunters riding out with a pack of killer dogs could be charged with going equipped to break the law.
Country lover, amateur naturalist and fox lover fighting to preserve the ban on hunting