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Panorama programme focuses on RSPCA
The charity says 98 per cent of investigations are concluded without going to court.
Charity’s governance and prosecutions explored 

The RSPCA faced scrutiny during the BBC’s latest Panorama programme, which looked at the charity’s governance and spoke to pet owners who felt they had been treated unfairly.

Reporter John Sweeney spoke to former staff members including Chris Lawrence, who was once the charity’s chief vet before becoming a trustee. Whilst he praised the charity as “essentially a great organisation” with “fantastic staff who work very hard”, Mr Lawrence said he had “real concerns about the way it was being run at a council level.

Similarly, Steve Carter, former national director for RSPCA Wales, said he believes the charity is currently “not fit for purpose” and its governance has remained largely unchanged since the 1970s. However, he added that the RSPCA is “overall a force for good” and the inspectors “do good work every single day.”

The programme revealed that two trustees ran the charity unpaid for two years while it didn’t have a chief executive. Andrew Hind, former chief executive of the Charity Commission, said that for a large charity this is “off the scale in terms of being so unusual”.

“I find it difficult to see how a large charity could properly run itself if it doesn’t have a permanent chief executive who is independent from the non-executive trustee team,” he added.

Sweeney also spoke to defence barristers who said they felt targeted by the RSPCA, and highlighted three cases where pet owners believe they were unfairly charged with animal welfare offences. However, the charity says 98 per cent of investigations are concluded without going to court, and it only prosecutes ‘as a last resort’, in cases where the mistreatment is serious and animal cruelty blatant.

In a statement ahead of the programme, the RSPCA said: ‘We understand that the programme will seek to portray an RSPCA that would not be recognised by its staff, volunteers, supporters or the many thousands of animals and people helped each year.

‘The programme will not recognise the frontline staff undertaking often difficult, distressing work twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. It will not recognise the family that have escaped domestic violence but whose animal is being fostered by us until they are settled in a new life.

‘It will not recognise the officers that abseil down ropes to rescue a stranded sheep or work in schools to educate young people. It will not recognise the thousands of animals given a second chance each year because of the compassion and commitment of our staff, volunteers and supporters.

‘It will not recognise these things because it has chosen not to.’

Although it says it does not accept the portrayal by Panorama, the charity stressed that it is ‘not complacent about any aspect of the working or leadership of the organisation’ and is committed to improving everything it does as an organisation.

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Charity reveals it treated thousands of pets with dental issues last year

News Story 1
 Battersea Dogs & Cats Home has revealed that its veterinary team performs dental procedures on more than 170 animals every month. Last year the charity says it extracted hundreds of teeth from more than 800 animals and carried out thousands of routine scales and polishes.

To combat the problem, Battersea is urging pet owners to get regular dental checks at their vets, implement a daily oral care routine, feed a good dental chew and only give toys that are designed for dogs, including gentle rubber toys that are less wearing on the teeth. 

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News Shorts
Voting opens for RCVS council elections

Eligible veterinary surgeons can now vote in this year’s RCVS Council elections. Four out of the 10 candidates are already on council and are standing for re-election: David Catlow, Mandisa Greene, Neil Smith, Susan Paterson. The remaining six candidates are not currently on council: John C Davies, Karlien Heyman, John Innes, Thomas Lonsdale, Matthew Plumtree and Iain Richards.

Further information on the candidates can be found on the RCVS website: