The truth about animal charities, cats and dogs

Article by William MacAskill and Amanda MacAskill for The Guardian UK:

As we approach December – the month when almost a third of all charitable giving for the year takes place – many of us might be wondering where we should be sending our charitable donations. Some of us will choose to give to charities such as Against Malaria Foundation, which helps to protect people in the developing world from a disease that kills almost 3,000 children every day. And yet, despite the great needs of humans around the world, many people will choose to donate to charities that help animals. In fact, it has recently been reported by the Mirror that “bequests to animal charities beat donations to human causes”, and that donations bequeathed to animals “dwarfed” those going to vulnerable and abused children.

kitten in hand

Is it true that donations to animal charities outstrip donations to human charities in the UK? The simple answer is no. The Charities Aid Foundation, which surveys people about the donations that they have made in the last 12 months, found that in 2014 only 7% of the total amount that people donated went to animal charities. This is much lower than donations to human-focused charities such as medical charities, children’s charities, and hospitals, overseas charities, and religious charities. These five causes collectively received 62% of total donations, and every one of these causes individually received more than animal charities did.

But what about bequests to charities that people make in their wills: do animal charities sweep up the biggest share of these types of donations? Again, the answer is no. The National Council for Voluntary Organisations reports that in 2009-2010, environmental charities, which includes animal charities, received only 22% of all legacy donations, while social services, research, and health charities jointly received 62% of legacy donations. The animal charity that received by far the most legacy donations was the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (£74.9m), which received less than either Cancer Research UK (£157.4m) or the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (£93.8m).

Of course, some individual animal charities do receive more than some individual human charities, as the Mirror article highlights. But this is pretty uninformative if what we want to know is whether animal or human charities received more money. When we look at the numbers, it’s clear that donations to human charities dwarf donations to animal charities, and not the other way around.

Although animal charities receive less money than charities that help humans, animal causes are clearly important to many people. So if you want to help animals, what should you do? As the Charities Aid Foundation survey shows, most people find it difficult to know which charities to give to when there are so many charities out there, and they also want to know that their money is actually helping. This is where effective giving comes in. When we give effectively, we give to those charities that we have the best evidence are making the biggest difference in a given cause area.

If we want to donate to charities that make the biggest difference to animals, it’s important for us to realise that animal suffering and death don’t just affect domestic animals such as dogs and cats. In fact, Animal Charity Evaluators – an organisation that researches the effectiveness of different animal charities – points out that for every individual dog or cat euthanised in shelters in the US, about 360 farm animals were killed. In the UK alone, about 90 million chickens are slaughtered every month. And 94% of these are raised intensively in sheds that contain about 17 chickens per square metre. Farm animals such as pigs, cows and chickens are capable of sadness and joy, just as cats and dogs are. But they are suffering and dying at much greater rates, and are receiving a tiny proportion of current donations to animal charities.

The good news is that more research is being done into how we can most effectively help animals, and our donations may be able to go a long way.

Just as with human-focused charities, there are huge differences between how much good different animal charities do. And even if we are not likely to give the majority of our money to animal charities this giving season or in our wills, we can do a lot of good by giving the money that we do choose to donate more effectively.

Article taken from: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/nov/19/charity-animals-cats-dog


Sunday Post article details Scottish SPCA chief’s £230,000 pay deal as it claims animals suffer

The Scottish SPCA has come under fire after its boss was given a huge pay rise – while shutting a rescue centre to save costs.

Chief executive Stuart Earley was handed a basic wage of £216,320 last year, making him one of the UK’s best-paid charity bosses. The six-figure sum dwarfs the pay of both Prime Minister David Cameron, who is on £142,000, and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who earns £135,000 a year.

It is also considerably higher than the UK’s other top animal charities, many larger than the SSPCA. The former aquarium boss has seen his wages rocket by more than a third in just three years. He also enjoyed pension contributions of £12,950 last year and shared expenses of £2,051 with four other directors.

Last night animal organisations and campaigners criticised the wage increase, revealed in charity accounts.

John Robins, of charity Animal Concern, said: “The Scottish SPCA is a big organisation with a large budget but it is hard to justify paying anyone such a huge salary. It concerns me that if the public think all animal charity CEOs are being paid massive salaries they will stop donating to animal causes.”

Mr Robins, who earns a more modest £24,000 a year, added: “People should get a fair living wage for doing their job but when you work for an animal charity you should remember that your pay is coming out of the pockets of pensioners who want to help animals, not fund a luxury lifestyle for executives. I could employ nine or 10 good campaigners for what Stuart Earley is paid.”

Mr Earley has headed up the SSPCA since 2007, and led the organisation to the Charity of the Year award in 2013.

He has also been praised for being a driving force in the SSPCA’s growth and the implementation of forward-thinking policies. But his organisation also controversially shut its only rescue centre in Shetland last year. It was reported that SSPCA chiefs claimed the reported £13,000-a-year running costs were too high.

SSPCA chief superintendent Mike Flynn said the small number of animals it cared for could not justify the money it took to keep it open. Instead, injured and abandoned animals must now be taken more than 300 miles to the SSPCA’s new £3.5 million wildlife rescue unit in Fishcross, Clackmannanshire, where the SSPCA says the animals have a better chance of recovery.

Last night, the volunteer organisation which took over a large portion of the SSPCA’s work on Shetland criticised Mr Earley’s pay.

Jean Garriock, who set up the Southend Wildlife Rescue Centre following the closure of the unit, said: “This pay is a total disgrace. They shut our SSPCA centre here to make savings. But now we know they could have saved it by taking it off some of the ridiculous pay increase they gave their boss.”

While the SSPCA employs two members of staff in Shetland, Jean says her new organisation has rescued around 100 animals since the SSPCA shut its doors locally.

“We do this all for free and are funded through local fundraising. Seeing this level of pay makes me very angry,” she added.

The SSPCA defended the closure of its centre, insisting it was attending more call-outs than before. It went to 285 call-outs in the last year since the centre shut, up from 150 the year before.

The Gott rescue centre opened in 1993 in the wake of the Braer disaster, when an oil tanker ran aground off Shetland. More than 85,000 tonnes of oil gushed into the sea and sea birds and wildlife were discovered dead or covered in oil. It was set up with financial help from Shetland Islands Council and the oil industry. But the centre rehabilitated and released just 10 sea birds in 2013 with the SSPCA covering its running costs, estimated at £250,000 since it opened.

Charity campaigner David Craig, the author of the book The Great Charity Scandal, is amazed a Scottish-only charity pays such high wages.

He said: “It’s quite obvious that the £216,320 plus pension is out of all proportion to the SSPCA’s size and number of staff. It is higher than the bosses of Oxfam and the Red Cross – huge international organisations.”

In April, a Sunday Post investigation discovered a 26% increase in charity staff paid more than £60,000 at Scotland’s top 15 charities.

Last night the body that represents the industry, the Scottish Council of Voluntary Organisations, offered a defence of charity pay.

A spokesman said: “As in any other sector, there are a lot of considerations to setting senior salaries in charities. A senior role in a charity comes with significant levels of responsibilities and demands. The leaders of Scotland’s largest charities manage average annual budgets of £37 million and 1,215 staff.”


A record number of people were banned from keeping animals last year following a surge in cruelty cases reported to the Scottish SPCA.

Figures from the courts show a total of 63 disqualification orders – 12 for life – were dished out in 2014, a 66% increase on the 38 given in 2010. Fines totalled more than £23,000 last year and 35 people were sentenced to community service orders. Among them was the case of Stirling man John Robertson, 58, who was jailed for 15 weeks for failing to care for Gizmo, a male collie-cross who died from malnutrition and dehydration.

The SSPCA said incidents attended by its inspectors and animal rescue officers – which include investigations, rescues and abandonments – topped 78,000 last year.

SSPCA points to story of success

Harry Haworth, chairman of the SSPCA, said Stuart’s leadership had transformed the charity.

He said: “In the last eight years the Scottish SPCA has undergone a considerable transformation and today is at least twice as effective as it was in 2007 in every meaningful area. Today the charity responds to 130% more calls, deals with 143% more incidents and re-homes and rehabilitates double the amount of animals it did. At the same time we have increased membership from 31,000 to 51,000, broken fundraising records in six consecutive years and raised more money in the last eight years than in the previous 167 years the society existed. We have invested in the future by undertaking a £15 million capital expenditure programme that has almost doubled our kennel capacity and provided animals in our care with much better facilities. Our crowning achievement has been to increase the number of children we reach from 27,000 in 2007 to over 317,000 in 2014. This is the largest educational outreach programme in Scotland and encourages children to respect and be kind to animals.”

He added Mr Earley also sorted out a pension black hole the SSPCA had and improved fundraising efficiency.

Article taken from: http://www.sundaypost.com/scandal-of-animal-charity-fat-cat-scottish-spca-chief-s-230-000-pay-deal-as-animals-suffer-1.904425


New figures show UK animal cruelty on the rise

Today, the RSPCA announced the disturbing news that in England and Wales, animal cruelty cases are at their highest level to date.

It is reported that in 2014, nearly 160,000 incidents were reported and investigated by the charity. That’s over 400 incidents a day. The RSPCA go on to list some of the cases, which are as horrific as you can imagine. Over 20,000 of them involved ‘deliberate and often violent’ cruelty.

photo (8)

Despite this rise in numbers – up from just over 150,000 in 2013 – convictions have actually fallen. Just over 1,000 people were convicted last year. The RSPCA reports a 100% conviction rate, but this is still clearly nowhere near enough.

The area with the highest number of complaints was Greater London at 12,202, followed by West Yorkshire with 8,440 and Greater Manchester with 8,069. Overall, West Yorkshire saw the highest number of people convicted at 93, followed by County Durham with 83 and the West Midlands with 64.

It’s hard to believe that in 2015 we are still seeing more and more people abusing animals. Despite all the campaigns, appeals and improvements in legislation, idiots up and down the UK are still carrying out heinous acts on sentient, defenceless creatures, with RSPCA saying more ‘innovative’ methods of cruelty are being revealed all the time. Lovely.

Clearly, we’re simply not doing anywhere near enough. Time and time again, research has shown that cruelty to animals is linked to cruelty to humans. Many convicted murderers for example, have been found to have started out by practicing violent acts on animals. In the US, the FBI has found that a history of cruelty to animals is one of the traits that regularly appear in its computer records of serial rapists and murderers. Of 36 convicted multiple murderers questioned in one study, 46% admitted committing acts of animal torture as adolescents. Studies have also found that men who abuse their domestic partners often target the family’s companion animals as well. An abused dog or cat often means there’s a bruised child, spouse or elder in the same home. One US review, entitled Understanding the Link between Violence to Animals and People: A Guidebook for Criminal Justice Professionals suggests those working in criminal justice should pay more attention to reports of animal cruelty. It poses that, ‘When someone harms an animal, the important question to ask is, “Who will be next?”’ A key point and one which is all too often overlooked by authorities, much to the detriment of us all.

So, despite decades of research and documented evidence of the indisputable link between animal cruelty and violence towards humans, the number of people abusing animals and getting away with it is rising.

It’s time to take a long hard look at how we in the UK see our four legged friends. We need to start by showing people what special, unique personalities animals have and how vital it is that we treat them with the empathy, compassion and care they deserve. We have a responsibility to animals in the same way as we do to children, the elderly, those with limited physical or mental abilities and all the other groups on the spectrum of vulnerability which is part of our world. This has to begin by teaching our children about how it is their duty, not their choice, to treat every animal they come into contact with with gentleness and care. In return, the rewards they will receive will be unparallelled. We need to call on the government to once and for all include animal welfare in the National Curriculum now, before it is too late. The government’s own post-legislative scrutiny of the Animal Welfare Act concluded that there is a lack of public awareness surrounding the core responsibilities of pet owners. PDSA /YouGov research conducted in 2012 found that only 31% of owners felt they were familiar with the Animal Welfare Act.

Meanwhile in 2014, a survey of teachers revealed over 95% say teaching children about animal welfare would help make them more compassionate and socially aware.


In 2013, the House of Lords debated the issue, with Lord Nash concluding that:

It is not the role of the national curriculum to prescribe everything that might valuably be taught to children. We are slimming down the national curriculum to focus on essential knowledge in core subjects. The draft primary science curriculum requires pupils to be taught about the needs of animals, including food, water and so on, and the care of animals is something that we would expect all good schools to cover in their wider curriculum as part of the soft skills.

Following this, a coalition of animal welfare organisations joined forces in 2013 and lobbied the government to include animal welfare on the new National Curriculum. This was ‘considered’ – and then promptly rejected. In 2014 Lord Nash piped up again, this time stating:

We feel that it is very helpful for young people to learn about animal welfare in the national curriculum, but we do not think it is right to include it, certainly not at this stage. We have a long way to go to make sure that the majority of pupils in this country have an education in core academic subjects first.

This isn’t good enough. Of the 160,000 incidents last year – how many of the perpetrators will we soon be reading about committing murder, rape, or child abuse? Enough is enough. We’re not only letting down our animals, we’re letting down our children – in a big way. The government needs to pull its head out of the sand and realise this isn’t just about teaching kids to stroke fluffy bunnies. A whole myriad of future problems could be prevented if politicians would wake up and realise the intrinsic value animals hold. Sadly, they couldn’t seem less interested if they tried.

However, there is some hope for our children – even if, perhaps unsurprisingly, it is having to be led by the third sector as opposed to our government. In Scotland, the Scottish SPCA’s Prevention through Education programme is now in schools and available to book. The organisation’s free, groundbreaking interactive programme fits into the four capacities of the Curriculum for Excellence, most notably helping children develop into responsible citizens within their communities. Similar schemes are run by RSPCA and SPANA in England.

If you or any of your friends have children, why not find out whether their school would welcome a visit from animal education officers? The lessons the children will learn will stay with them forever and hopefully foster a lifelong love of, and dedication to, animals of all shapes and sizes.  In the meantime, let’s never stop fighting for better education for our children – whether that comes from the curriculum and schools, or ourselves educating the children we know wherever we can.

You can also write to your MP and ask them where they stand on the fact animal welfare is still utterly overlooked in the National Curriculum and if they would consider implementing a more rounded system to teach care and compassion for all sentient beings.

Until that day, we all have an important part to play on our own doorstep, in doing all we can to report on and prevent cruelty to animals. If you see or hear anything, or suspect someone may be heading towards acting violently towards an animal, speak up now.

To report animal cruelty you can call the following numbers:

  • Scotland – SSPCA: 03000 999 999
  • England and Wales – RSPCA: 0300 1234 999
  • Northern Ireland – USPCA: 028 3025 1000
  • Republic of Ireland – ISPCA: 1890 515 515

It’s also worth sticking these in your phone so you always have them to hand.

The fight is not over. Together, we must do all we can to ensure more convictions are delivered to perpetrators of animal crime, more children see the beauty to be found in caring for animals and more four legged creatures live the safe, happy lives they deserve. Let’s stamp out animal cruelty once and for all.

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Charity to investigate storm over Belfast horses made to jump over car

Trustees of a Tyrone cancer charity are carrying out an investigation following a social media storm over the way horses were treated in a fundraising event.

The charity hack in Greencastle last weekend is being investigated by Animal Welfare officers and Department of Agriculture staff after images were posted on Facebook of horses jumping across an old car with glass still in the windows.

The event is said to have been organised by Mountain View Equestrian to raise money for Charis Cancer Care in Cookstown, which offers complementary therapies for cancer patients.

A horse falls after attempting to jump over the car during the charity riding event in Greencastle, Co Tyrone

The event organiser has since claimed on Facebook that the car jump was not intended to be used on the day of the event, but was a joke posted to get people interested.

“A few riders deviated from the ride to jump it rather than the intended jump 10 metres away from it,” she said. “I did not tell or force anyone to jump it. A rider has been threatened which is absolutely ridiculous to put anyone through this. All threats have been saved. It is absolutely disgraceful the way this has been handled, with a lot of illegal copyright going on and bitching. Before anyone starts making any more accusations please make sure you have the right story because there is a lot of stories going around. No horse or no rider was seriously injured.”

However, a week before the hack took place, the organiser posted an image of the car in a ditch between pallets lodged on their edge, apparently intended to drive the horses towards the roof.

At the time she wrote: “I can’t keep surprises. This is our surprise jump for this year’s charity ride, not quite finished yet but already looking scary. RIP little 206 you served me well.”

The car alleged to have been made into the jump was a Peugeot 206 model.

Last night, Charis Cancer Care told the Belfast Telegraph that none of the trustees had been aware of the fundraiser taking place.

Chairman John McLaughlin said: “I am in receipt of emails which the staff have forwarded to me regarding the fundraising event in Greencastle. I am advised that the organiser of this event has in the past raised lots of money for various charities. In fairness to them, I do not wish to comment until we have investigated the matter and ascertained the facts in full.”

The Belfast Telegraph has been told that the horses were made to jump dangerous obstacles including the car with the windscreen and windows still in it.

Pictures taken at the event appear to show horses jumping over the battered car with their hooves protruding into the body of the vehicle and through window trim as shattered glass flies round their legs.

A complaint made to Animal Welfare officers read: “From these pictures, some of these animals are clearly not fit enough to be partaking in any jumping activities, ridden by people who had no regard for the safety of them and someone could have been killed.

“A friend of mine personally attended this hack in the thought of it being for a good cause for charity and was utterly shocked at what she witnessed, advising many horses were beaten to make them go over the jump and then left the field with many injuries. One particular horse left with the skin from his chest between his legs torn and hanging off and in considerable pain.”

The Belfast Telegraph has sent a number of messages to the organiser but has received no reply.

Article taken from: http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/charity-to-investigate-storm-over-horses-made-to-jump-over-car-31115223.html


Born Free Foundation and Care for the Wild in historic merger

The Born Free Foundation have today announced the exciting news that it is growing bigger – and better – and it’s all for the animals. In an historic merger, they’re joining forces with the well-known UK wildlife charity, Care for the Wild.

This exciting new alliance unites two of the leading names in wildlife protection, and together they are forging a powerful union dedicated to compassionate conservation and wild animal welfare.  Born Free and Care for the Wild have been friends since the beginning. They each started in 1984 and have, for three decades, focussed on rescuing, protecting and defending wild animals in need. Now Care for the Wild is becoming part of Born Free. They have incorporated their staff and projects to help wild elephants, tigers, rhinos and other species into the Born Free family, while maintaining their unfailing commitment to existing projects.

Born Free Founder Virginia McKenna OBE is delighted by the news. “Born Free has been a close
companion of Care for the Wild since both our charities began. Back in 1984 their Founder, Dr Bill Jordan OBE, was a good friend of my husband Bill Travers and myself. In his capacity as a wildlife vet and animal welfare expert he was one of our key advisors and mentors in those early days. Over the years our two charities have frequently worked together on a wide range of projects to help wild animals. Now I’m sure that, like me, you will wish to extend the warmest of welcomes to all Care for the Wild’s supporters and staff. How wonderful to have them as part of our outstanding team. I hope they will soon feel part of the Born Free family.”

There are strong parallels between these two great organisations, which have evolved along similar paths, with a like-minded and shared vision of a kinder world. The combined entity, operating under the Born Free Foundation name, will be able to more effectively tackle a host of animal protection and wildlife conservation issues of critical concern to the British people. This will include protection for badgers, hares and other native wild animals, as well as endangered species the world over.