Sexual frustration a criminal offence?

Animal Rights (AR) groups like the RSPCA never let go of a good idea that works to condemn animal owners.

Back in 2006 the RSPCA brought a prosecution for neglect against a couple who they accused of failing to seek veterinary attention to alleviate the sexual frustrations of their parrots who exhibited this frustration by feather plucking, according to avian expert Neil Forbes.

The couple were cleared because they had sought veterinary help some 10 years previously and had been told there was no cure for the condition. The court said that it was unreasonable to expect them to seek further advice.

It was claimed that the RSPCA had brought a test case which would have had implications for thousands of bird fanciers whose birds exhibited the same problem.

You would have thought that would be the end of such a bizarre accusation with the RSPCA stating that they were going to discuss the case with their prosecution solicitor to see what could be learnt from the outcome.

Fast forward to 2022 and the issue of sexually frustrated birds feather plucking raises its head again. This time it is claimed that in a small study hormone implants altered the birds’ behaviour. Other experts disagree and point out that diet is usually at the root of such behaviour.

You can guarantee that the sexual frustration of parrots (and maybe other birds too) is going to be revisited time and again and used to claim that birds should not be kept in captivity along with the development of hormone implants and other drugs such as Deslorelin that parrot owners will be ordered to inflict on their birds.

Bear in mind that AR groups demand the spaying and neutering of all animals, even inflicting it on very elderly animals whose behaviour patterns have been learned and who will undoubtedly suffer frustration as a result. Some would consider this to be a far worse crime against those animals than failing to alleviate feather plucking.

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RSPCA fails animals as it targets fireworks fun

Yet again the RSPCA has failed the animal owing public, preferring the donation driving publicity of an ongoing campaign to ban an activity that brings pleasure to millions of people, and especially children, in the UK instead of helping animal owners to prevent their pets from becoming stressed by fireworks and other unexpected events.

If dogs and other animals are to live in society, just like children, they need to learn to accept the activities of the people who surround them. They need to be calm when unexpected noises or actions take place. If they panic when a car backfires, there is a peal of thunder, a child screams in the middle of a boisterous game, a military jet goes overhead in training, or a firework explodes, then they are a danger both to themselves and to others. No amount of playing soothing music or soundproofing the home will prepare the animal for what it will find if it ever ventures outside the house. What if it escapes? Will if flee in terror, not stopping until it collapses from exhaustion?

The RSPCA have even warned pet owners that “unsettling” costumes and an increase in unexpected door knocks during the build up to Halloween can leave dogs “overwhelmed”. Do dogs never see people of other nationalities or religions wearing different clothes? If dogs are unable to cope with knocks on the door how would they cope with a visit from the police? Or an RSPCA raid when dogs showing distress are classed as “unsocialised”? Remember that new laws do not allow the dog to protect its home against officials lawfully entering so dogs who are scared and reactive are vulnerable.

It is well known that animals can become acclimatised to noise and other external stimuli. Police and military dogs and horses go through rigorous training to ensure that they do not panic at the first gunshot or exploding bomb, and while not every animal reaches the highest standards the reactivity of all animals can be improved.

For those not in the military or police, canine behaviourist and trainer Adem Fehmi says pet owners should play videos of thunderstorms around their dogs to stop them feeling scared of loud bangs and flashes. Both noises and lights should be introduces slowly, with noise starting at low levels and increased as the animals become so used to it that there is no reaction. It also helps if the animal is kept diverted with a favourite toy or game.

By teaching people that their animals need to be protected from society the RSPCA is ensuring that the animals will be incapable of living in society and that eventually there will be a backlash from society in general when the everyday activities that people enjoy are banned.

The RSPCA claims that between October and January, they received around 11,785 reports of animals in distress. and yet they appear to have done nothing to publicise ways of desensitising animals, instead demanding an end to an activity that brings pleasure to thousands and which is very strictly regulated.

With firework season upon us, all that can be done now is comfort those animals who are distressed and, where possible, move those who can be moved away from firework zones. Then prepare for next year.

Hoarding – Hoax, mental illness or the result of a real physical infection?

Yet again we see a case where someone has a largish number of animals being accused of the emotive “crime” of “hoarding”.

Why “largish”? As usual every bird in aviaries has been counted. 150. Add to that the fact that many of the photos show animals in reasonable condition and conditions.

There appears to have been an infestation of cockroaches but you can find such infestations in many blocks of council and social housing in the UK. There are many such reports and no-one seems to have thought to count every cockroach or accuse the councils or housing associations of “hoarding” people.

We are told that ‘The conditions of any household with 300 animals is going to have toxic ammonia levels.’ but not told that any measurement of ppm ammonia in the premises or even at animal level was made. A typical evidential failure of such raids and prosecutions.

Depending on the time of the raid it is possible that a combination of the raid happening either before or during the morning cleaning routine and the fear of the invasion causing the animals to urinate and defecate caused any lack of cleanliness in the animals’ accommodation.

No mention is made of any animal actually suffering from any untreated illnesses or injuries, although it is certain that every animal is undergoing intensive veterinary investigation to ensure that the prosecution have counted every minor scratch for a future prosecution.

Was the owner a “hoarder”? Is there such a personality outside of Animal Rights Philosophy?

Consider the treatment of people accused of such a mental illness by the very people who claim to promote compassion and kindness.

Their homes are invaded. The animals they care about are dragged out in front of them. They are often arrested and taken to the cells. Then they are prosecuted with all of the might of the available law and outrageous costs claimed against them. Costs that often can not be justified when looking at the typical costs charged by boarding businesses. Costs that, in the case of the RSPCA, are not given to the Branches who look after the animals or that were for boarding and veterinary fees for healthy horses that had been killed some time previously. Costs that the prosecution asks be put on their property as a charge.

Is this the way to treat people who, it is claimed, are mentally ill? People that no-one has ever bothered to help or even notice until they turned into a prosecution cash cow?

But all of this begs the question of whether there is such an illness as “hoarding”.

Is there any reason why some individuals and even some well respected animal rescuers should suddenly turn into “hoarders”? Why they would find themselves unable to recognise that their premises were so toxic with ammonia fumes that people had to wear masks because they couldn’t breathe when walking in? Despite the fact that the people and animals living there appeared to be unharmed?

There is one possibility. A protozoan parasite called Toxoplasma Gondii (t.gondii) which can only reproduce in cats but has infected many species (including humans) worldwide.

T.gondii is implicated in our political beliefs, our promiscuity (or otherwise), our mental health, and many other diseases. It is claimed that it has made people more inclined to take risks and so may have driven the progression of human civilisation and technology.

More importantly t. gondii causes rats, who would normally be afraid of, and avoid, cat urine, to be attracted to it.

Clearly people would not have the ability to differentiate between the urine of different types of animal but if t.gondii has a similar effect on those it inhabits then it might be that they either lose the ability to smell urine or ammonia, are generally more tolerant of it, or are actually attracted to it to the extent that they fail to clean it away.

The only way to find out if there is any connection between those accused of “hoarding” and t.gondii infection would be for every defendant in such cases to be tested to see if there were higher numbers of infected people than in the population as a whole.

While The SHG is not convinced of claims that there is such an illness as “animal hoarding” due to the discrepancies in the evidence produced in many of the prosecutions we suggest that the possibility of t.gondii infection influencing the behaviour of animal keepers should be investigated and if it turns out that it is implicated in cases where “hoarding” is an issue then the people who have been prosecuted and found guilty are owed an apology and compensation for the despicable way they have been treated.

Hoarding: A mental illness or an abject failure of the peer review process?

You have seen how repetition of a claim slides it insidiously into the public psyche until it becomes an accepted truth. This is true of the AR invention called hoarding which has created an entire industry of published papers, prosecutions based on those papers, and prosecutors who even count every fish in a tank to make the number of animals appear far greater than it really was.

How do the authors of such papers, each quoting previous publications, get past peer reviewers? Why are AR-groups so determined to create such a “mental illness”?

Peer reviewers may know the authors. They are rarely able to check the raw data underlying a paper.

Associate Professor Michael Brown from the School of Physics and Astronomy at Monash University said:

Many of the ethical concerns I have with peer review I’ve encountered outside of my work as a peer reviewer. This includes papers where it appears editors selected reviewers suggested by authors, who consequently approved the publication of deeply flawed work (be it suspect data or flawed analyses).

Dr Trevor Garnett from the University of Adelaide’s Faculty of Science  said:

For a lot of journals, even higher ranking journals, there is pressure for reviewers and editors to accept and not reject them because they make money for the more they publish.”

Add to these concerns the fact that papers on some subjects are produced particularly prolifically and each new paper quotes the previous papers and uses them as a springboard to credibility and acceptance and it can be seen how flawed or unproven theories can become public and scientific knowledge.

Animal Rights groups desperately need to prove that anyone with more than one or two animals is incapable of looking after them. It provides the catch all prosecution charge claiming that even if the animals were all in perfect condition each animal has to be removed because “it is likely to suffer if its circumstances do not change“.

Of course, if the owner or keeper has been accused of “hoarding” the prosecution only has to wave a sheaf of “peer reviewed papers” and speculate in ways that would make a fairground fortune teller blush in order to obtain a Guilty verdict.

Are there “hoarders”? There are certainly people who live among a lot of clutter. Usually older people who have known poverty and who prefer to repair items rather than throw them away. Does that make them mentally ill? Hoarding theory would say so.

There are also people who keep lots of animals. But then so do farmers or even RSPCA centres. Does that make the people involved mentally ill? When every guppy in the fish tank has been counted? Hoarding theory and Animal Rights prejudices against animal keeping would say so.

Clearly there is much for AR groups to gain from promoting Hoarding Theory and the question of whether it has been properly peer reviewed and challenged is essential if those animal keepers who have more than one animal are to be safe from harassment and prosecution.

When science gets it wrong everyone suffers, including those researchers who use what appears to be a solid foundation of previous research findings as a basis for their own research. Dr Rebecca Jordan, a specialist in conservation and genomics at CSIRO said:

My heart breaks for all the scientists who are building their research based on not-real findings,”

As scientists, we’re happy to be proven wrong as new data comes to light and our understanding grows. But we all put faith in what is out there and that what we are doing is taking the next step from a genuine piece of knowledge and understanding.

To find that’s false would be devastating and so incredibly wasteful of so many dedicated and talented people’s time and efforts.”

It would be devastating indeed to discover that hoarding was simply a label that has been attached to a few people who kept their animals badly and has been extrapolated to cover anyone in the general population who has more animals than an AR-promoted prosecution believes people should be allowed to keep.

Which truth do you believe?

They say that if you tell a lie that is big enough and repeat it often enough it will become common knowledge.

These premises have been attributed to several people including Lenin, Goebbels and Hitler, but the earliest evidence of the statement is from 1869.

“If a lie is only printed often enough, it becomes a quasi-truth, and if such a truth is repeated often enough, it becomes an article of belief, a dogma, and men will die for it.” 
― Isa Blagden, The Crown Of A Life, By The Author Of ‘agnes Tremorne’

Tom Stafford, a psychologist, says that repetition makes a fact seem more true regardless of whether it is or not. Participants in his studies were asked to rate whether trivia items were true or not. After a break of minutes or weeks they were tested again and this time were more likely to rate those items they have seen before as true, simply because they were more familiar.

study published in Psychonomic Bulletin & Review indicates that, contrary to accepted knowledge, belief in all statements, be they plausible or implausible, increases with repetition.  

Of course, when experts and scholars say things they provide references, so how can they mislead not only the public but other experts as well?

The answer is the sheer volume of papers, each quoting the previous published paper, meaning that very few people are going to check all the way back to the beginning.

Consider Animal Rights LINKS theory. The claim that anyone who hurts an animal is likely to also hurt a child, a disabled person or an elderly person. Paper after paper has been published. The theory has morphed to include claims that controlling and coercive partners use threats to harm pets as ways of forcing their partner to comply with their demands. But is it true?

Would it surprise you to know that:


 Given the huge numbers involved and the strong links identified by the research, it is very surprising that are there no reported cases of animal abuse or threats to harm the animal as a type of controlling or coercive behaviour.

Would it also surprise you to know that a researcher who was sceptical of claims that anyone who harmed an animal would also go on to harm children or other vulnerable people was prevented from running an experiment at a conference discussing LINKS theory to show that it was unlikely?

Heather Piper pointed out that taking extreme examples as a starting point and extrapolating back to the general population was the wrong way to go. Troubled individuals like Dahmer hurt anything that came their way, including animals, but that does not mean that any child who harms an animal will go on to harm people.

The problem faced by all of those who question the accepted theory is the sheer volume of polished papers, each quoting previous publications, each making the same claims and yet there are NO reported cases that back up the claims.

Which truth do you believe?

Whatever happens the kangaroos lose

The Victorian Branch of RSPCA Australia has finally decided to stop selling kangaroo meat pet food products. Strangely it has taken a concerted effort by other groups to force this change on the RSPCA.

The kangaroo pet food trial in Victoria began in 2014 and led to claims of fraud and bribery by the time one million kangaroos had been killed in 2019.

The kangaroo cull for pet food was a reaction to the rapid expansion of kangaroo numbers when food was plentiful and the crash in numbers when drought led to shortages of food and water and the inevitable conflicts as starving kangaroos descend on farms looking for scarce resources desperately needed for the cattle and sheep.

Animal rights groups have campaigned to destroy overseas markets for kangaroo meat and leather claiming that it is cruel and unclean. The European Union has been pressurised by a Dutch Animal Rights party to ban the import of kangaroo products. Calls for similar bans in the US are ongoing.

Welfare concerns range from the accuracy of shooters to the slaughter of joeys (baby kangaroos still in their mothers’ pouches) by blunt force trauma, which if done correctly can be effective at providing a swift and humane death. Joeys that flee either starve to death or become food for predators.

RSPCA Australia’s Di Evans maintains that their concern is that kangaroo harvesting is being treated as a renewable resource, not as a means to mitigate overpopulation, overgrazing and starvation. Note that RSPCA Australia is not the same organisation as RSPCA Victoria which might explain the willingness of the latter to profit from kangaroo culling while the former objects to ongoing profiting from animal resources.

Now that RSPCA Victoria has decided it will no longer stock kangaroo pet food products and other markets for kangaroo leather and meat are shrinking or undergoing campaigns to institute bans, the kangaroos are increasingly going to be left to undergo the boom and bust population swings that bring them into conflict with farmers and face culls, poisoning or death by starvation according to Dr. John Read who co-authored a joint statement on kangaroo population management.

Whatever happens, it seems that the kangaroos will lose.

Come on France, be reasonable in your demands!

The French have appealed to the EU to bring the UK to book for neglecting its Brexit commitments by dumping raw sewage into the Channel and the North Sea and risking polluting French beaches and harming marine life.

Please somebody, tell the French that the UK is doing all that it possibly can. They have banned dogs from many beaches after all. What more can the French expect the UK government to do? Regulate the water companies when easy targets like dog owners are available?

Come on France, be reasonable in your demands!

Conspiracy? Coincidence? Are the condemned animals collateral damage?

As those who post on The SHG Facebook Page and Group know, The SHG does not believe in conspiracy theories. Nevertheless, some coincidences are rather interesting.

The SHG was alerted to difficulties being faced by exotics keepers whose animals were licensed under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act. The requirements of their licence are very clear. They must have insurance cover or the keeping of these animals breaches the terms of their licence.

Unexpectedly, people who tried to renew their insurances found that those companies had decided to pull out of this kind of work. People were ringing company after company to no avail. It later became apparent that the only way to obtain insurance cover was to pay massively higher premiums. This at a time when energy and food costs have been rising along with everything else.

Keepers started to face the reality that they could not afford to keep their animals legally. Should they release those who might survive in the wild? Should they take them to be euthanised? Rescues had become overwhelmed, partially due to rising costs.

The SHG e-mailed DEFRA to ask if they were aware of the problems people were facing in trying to comply with licence requirements.

****************************************

Subject: DWA insurances unavailable
Date: Wed, 11 May 2022 10:12:14 +0100
From: anne.kasica@the-shg.org
To: customeradvice@apha.gov.uk

Hello,

The SHG runs a help line for people who have problems with the RSPCA or animal welfare issues.

We have takes several panicky calls from people whose DWA insurances are up for renewal and when they have tried to renew have been told that the insurance company will not be renewing this year.

They have been ringing other insurance companies but it seems that no-one is prepared to issue them with insurance.

People are concerned that they will be in breach of their licence requirements and their animals will be removed.  (There are some conspiracy theories starting to do the rounds as well!)

If this is a more general problem affecting more than the people we have spoken to then we need to know what to say to people who can’t (through no fault of their own) obtain the requisite insurances.

Is there a policy in place to deal with this problem, please?  Cliverton, LRMS and Exotic Direct have been named as no longer issuing these insurances and one person tells us they have rung nearly 100 companies with no luck.

Maybe even some guidelines should be issued so that the more keen local authorities don’t remove animals?

While it is unlikely, the scenario of an animal escaping and creating havoc just as its insurance runs out is one we need to avoid!

Any suggestions?


Anne Kasica
The SHG


********************************

The SHG also notified a journalist who started asking questions. This resulted in an article in the Sunday Telegraph on 31st July 2022. That article was in the printed copy of the paper but did not appear online.

The SHG had not heard anything in response to the original request for information from DEFRA, so imagine our surprise when, following publication, and of course, too late to be included in the article, an e-mail arrived.

**********************************

Subject: Response to your enquiry – Ref: TO2022/10430
Date: Wed, 03 Aug 2022 16:40:51 +0100
From: Ministerial Contact Unit <no-reply@defra.ecase.co.uk>
Reply-To: Ministerial Contact Unit <correspondence.section@defra.gov.uk>
To: anne.kasica@the-shg.org

Dear Anne,

Please find attached a reply to your email of 11 May.

Yours sincerely, 
Katherine Jutting

Ministerial Contact Unit

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

********************************

The government’s lack of interest in the fate of thousands of animals or the heartbreak of their owners bodes ill for any animal whose licence conditions demand insurance that is now so expensive that it is beyond the reach of the majority of owners. Those owners are now at the mercy of the insurance industry that has a captive clientele available to be milked for all they are worth.

It is surprising that in the circumstances the government has not agreed to either waive the insurance requirement or agreed to provide a basic insurance at a reasonable price.

The SHG has always opposed licensing of animals and we will be actively opposing the introduction of licensing for any animals in future, especially if there are insurance requirements. No animal keeper should face the loss of their animals simply because the actions or greed of third parties make it impossible for them to comply with the law. Nor should their animals become collateral damage as government refuses to amend or suspend the laws that are condemning them.

Disgruntled callers to the RSPCA helpline are not proof of cruelty

The real measure of cruelty and neglect is the number of successful prosecutions, not the number of calls to the RSPCA. Those calls will include malicious complaints from disgruntled neighbours, ratty ex’s and those who simply do not understand how animals are kept. They are also likely to have risen due to people being at home with nothing to do except brood during lockdown or as a result of media campaigns.

The fact is that the number of prosecutions has oscillated around a mean for many years. Yes, it changes when the RSPCA is running a campaign, including different species or activities, but then it settles back again.

If the RSPCA maintains that there is a huge range of cruelty and neglect that they have failed to deal with then that only adds fuel to the calls for a properly run government agency to deal with animal welfare law, be it the police or local authorities.

The dangers inherent in private prosecutions have been highlighted by the Justice Committee call for evidence and if animal welfare is important enough for government to legislate into law then it is important enough for government to provide a proper regulatory service instead of depending on charities with their own agendas,

Dogmatic RSPCA make a dog’s breakfast of lost dog law

Yet again it falls to The SHG to highlight misleading information being spread as a result of an RSPCA campaign or press release. Unfortunately the RSPCA is not the only charity misleading the public over this issue.

This time the public is being misled over their duties and rights in connection with stray dogs.

First of all, the facts:

If you find a stray dog you must return it to its owner if at all possible. The law still says that every dog while in a highway or in a place of public resort shall wear a collar with the name and address of the owner inscribed on the collar or on a plate or badge attached to it. This requirement does not apply to dogs involved in certain sporting or working activities. Failure to comply can lead to a fine of up to £2000.

It is not a requirement to include the name of the dog or the contact telephone number of the owner but a phone number makes it so much easier for a member of the public to reunite dog and owner.

If the dog has no collar or visible ID, or the contact details are out of date, then the finder can try asking a local vet to scan for a microchip since the law states that all dogs must be microchipped, but if all attempts to identify the owner fail then the finder must notify the dog warden. This is all part of doing everything practicable to reunite dog and owner. Failure to notify the dog warden could result in a criminal prosecution for stealing by finding.

This, however, is where there are notable discrepancies with much of the advice that is being given by the RSPCA, other charities and even the government.

The law says that the dog warden must be notified. It does not say that the dog must be handed over to the dog warden. In fact it says that if the finder wishes to keep the dog, having notified the dog warden, they must keep the dog for 28 days during which time the owner has a right to claim the dog.

For the dog and its owner this is by far the kindest and most likely means of being reunited.

Local Authorities are only required to keep strays for 7 days, not the 28 days a finder must keep them for. After 7 days the local authority can dispose of the dog. Speedy contact with the pound is essential for the dog owner because many are unobtainable at weekends and holidays, and the fees can escalate with every day the dog remains there, leading to many being unable to afford to reclaim their pets.

Strangely the option of keeping the dog until its owner is found is almost a secret in advice provided to finders of dogs. The government page, for instance, says this:

You must return a stray dog to its owner if you know who the owner is. Otherwise you must contact your local council.

Tell the council you want to keep the dog. If the council cannot find the owner you may be allowed to keep it. They’ll probably check you’re suitable as a dog owner before you can adopt it.

The implication is that the dog must be handed over to the council and if the owner is not found or can not afford to get it back the council will decide if you can ‘adopt’ it. The problem with this is that “adopt” is often a euphemism for “buy”.

Recent RSPCA advice, reprinted by many media outlets, words it like this:

  • If you decide to take the dog home with you while you wait for the dog warden then remember they are likely to be scared and distressed. Keep a close eye on their body language and behaviour to keep them happy and your family safe.
  • By law, you can’t keep a stray dog. If you want to rehome them then you can leave your details with the dog warden.

Again implying that the dog warden can take the dog and if no owner can be found or afford to get their dog back will decide if the finder can have it.

Add to this the fact that instead of referring people who have found stray dogs to the well known, free and nationwide service provided by DogLost the RSPCA is promoting the rival site, Animal Search which few dog owners will have heard of.

It is difficult to understand why there are so many obstacles being put into place that will serve only to prevent the reunification of dogs with their owners or to ensure that dogs end up in the pound running up costs that can lead to them losing their homes.