There are few prosecutions that cause more anxiety and trauma than RSPCA prosecutions under Animal Welfare legislation. The RSPCA have increasingly taken over the investigation and prosecution of these matters in the capacity of a private prosecution.
Despite spending over £10 million each year on prosecutions the RSPCA are also responsible for an annual animal slaughter (the RSPCA call it "euthanasing" - see below) of over 1000 healthy cats and dogs on the basis that they cannot be re-homed. It is argued by animal-lovers that if the RSPCA spent less on prosecuting (the police and CPS have publicly stated that they are happy to prosecute the same cases) they could afford to build more kennels so that fewer healthy animals died at their hands. The RSPCA argue a lack of resources necessitates the death of the animal, but perhaps a re-allocation of resources would solve the issue.
It is not as if the RSPCA is an efficent prosecutor. In a recent (2012) case under the Hunting Act the RSPCA secured minor convictions resulting in fines ranging between £450 and £2000 but spent over £310,000 of charitable donations on legal fees in the process in what the Judge described as a "staggering" use of funds. The RSPCA are undaunted by this and has vowed to carry on prosecuting in the same way in 2013 causing outrage and a dramatic decline in membership.
A Sheep in Wolf's Clothing
Despite the use of police ranks and titles (Inspector, Chief Inspector, etc) and wearing uniforms that are almost identical to a police officer RSPCA employees have no more powers than any other citizen. The RSPCA is not keen for the public to know this and actively resist commenting upon their abuse of police-type powers of entry onto private land and demanding interviews under caution. Do not be fooled by the pretence. The rank of "Inspector" is the job-title of a recruit after just 12 week's training.
If you are approached by the RSPCA do not enter into any discussion with them without taking legal advice. If they advise you that "you are not under arrest and are free to leave at any time" do not assume that this is a courtesy to you and that you had better cooperate in case they change their mind. The truth is that they CANNOT ARREST YOU and if they are on your property you can use reasonable force to remove them if they refuse to leave. Use video-recording equipment and they will soon depart as they do not like their behaviour to be recorded in case it is later used in court. ( The image on the right is of a police uniform, the image above is an RSPCA uniform - spot the difference - PS The RSPCA also wear peaked caps.)
Call now on 08444 936057 to have a free consultation with a specialist RSPCA defence solicitor
The best course of action in the event of being investigated by the RSPCA is to have your animals assessed by your vet immediately and obtain a report as to their good condition. This evidence will be vital if a prosecution is brought against you. In most cases it is not worth submitting to an interview with the RSPCA as they are not interested in your account, only securing a conviction. If the police accompany the RSPCA (as they are often recruited to do) it is advisable to cooperate with them to avoid any allegation that you are obstructing the police. Contact a solicitor as soon as possible.
The RSPCA also frequently use their own vets and docile police officers to seize animals under the Animal Welfare Act. There are complex appeal procedures to secure the return of your animals and you should not delay instructing a solicitor to complete the appropriate forms as the RSPCA will seek the costs of the kennelling from you if you are convicted.
[Animal euthanasia (from Greek, meaning "good death") is the act of humanely putting an animal to death or allowing it to die as by withholding extreme medical measures. Reasons for euthanasia include incurable (and especially painful) conditions or diseases, lack of resources to continue supporting the animal, or laboratory test procedures. Euthanasia methods are designed to cause minimal pain and distress. Euthanasia is distinct from animal slaughter and pest control, which are performed for purposes other than an act of mercy, although in some cases the killing procedure is the same.