The RSPCA is recruiting your children – and you don’t even know

Have you stopped to wonder why there have been so many reports of children raising money for the RSPCA this year?  It seems that the RSPCA wants your children and has pulled out all the stops to get them used to supporting and fund raising for the RSPCA while they are still young and impressionable.

What child aged between 6 and 12 could resist the challenge to become an “Animal Champion”?  Especially during the long and sometimes boring summer holidays?  What parent when faced with the demand for entertainment could resist a package deal of activities to keep their youngsters entertained?  This is the lure of the RSPCA Animal Champion scheme which is now recruiting chilren for its Christmas 2014 season.  So what’s the problem?

Not at all prominent is the fact that one of the five activities which can be chosen from a total of 17 is a compulsory “small fund raising challenge“.  In order to obtain the special Champion Fundraiser badge children have to raise over £50.  In order to obtain just the basic Animal Champion certificate and award they have to have completed the five challenges including the compulsory fund raising challenge.

Most parents and children will read about the scheme in the media. But much of the publicity for the RSPCA Animal Champion scheme fails to mention the fundraising part.   Can you imagine the harassed parent, especially one on low income, faced with a child who needs to complete their fundraising challenge to get the goodies that have been promised?  Especially if all of their childrens’ friends are taking part and peer pressure kicks in?

There are restrictions on how long and at what ages children can work.  Concerned parents might wonder if setting up small fund raising businesses with the pressure of achieving a target that will be virtually unattainable for most is the best way for their chidren to spend their holiday time.

Add to the scheme the RSPCA’s free lesson plans for teachers, their resources for school councils and even assemblies, and you can see that busy teachers are quite likely to gratefully grab ready made material that they don’t have to think too much about.

All of this is designed to capture the minds of your children.  To persuade them that they should support the RSPCA and accept what they are taught in RSPCA produced lessons.  Lessons that the RSPCA themselves claim are suitable to be presented in subjects as diverse as English, Science and Maths.

Remember that by the time children qualify for the Animal Champions scheme at age 6, or are being taught from RSPCA produced materials in school, they have already been softened up to believe “RSPCA is Good” via the various RSPCA books and toys aimed at very young children.

Do you think your children have a chance to resist RSPCA driven peer pressure to conform?  What are you going to do to help them think for themselves?




Copycat danger following Manchester Dogs’ Home fire publicity

Manchester Dogs’ Home will now rebuild following the fire that killed so many dogs.  Thanks to the pubicity and the generosity of the public over £1 million has been raised.

The publicity is, however, a double edged sword, increasing the likelihood of copycat attacks on any kenneling faciity, whether it is a rescue, a business or a private owner with dogs kept outside.

Everyone should re-assess their security measures.  More importantly everyone should re-assess their fire safety precautions.

What materials in the kennels would burn?  Can they be replaced?  Are there alarms, sprinklers and fire extinguishers present?

At least contact your local fire brigade and ask them to do an inspection and offer advice on how best to ensure the safety of your dogs.

Please raise this issue with any facility you know that kennels dogs (or other animals).



The RSPCA mocks the caring public

Having publicised itself as the first port of call for all animal related issues, the RSPCA is now mocking those members of the public who believed the hype and turned to it for help and advice.

Remember as you read the scornful comments that all of these people have tried to help an animal or the RSPCA. We all know how difficult it is to contact the RSPCA, so these people must have persevered against all the odds to try and help.

When you know that the RSPCA have campaigned against dressing animals in clothing and against the keeping of exotics it puts the call informing them of a monkey dressed in a rabbit suit in context. The sort of call their campaigns imply they would like to hear about.

Thinking about the RSPCA campaigns and prosecutions for causing psychological suffering to animals, prosecutions for shouting at a dog for instance, doesn’t that make the caller who thought that calling a dog a mongrel was insulting sound reasonable? No doubt the tone of voice used had some relevance too.

Wouldn’t any organisation be pleased to be asked to send a representative to a birthday lunch as a guest?  Be grateful for the opportunity to meet other members of the public and talk about what they do?  Not the RSPCA.

Having promoted care for wildlife the RSPCA considers it bizarre that a member of the public might ring them and ask for information on what they might expect to see and hear when watching foxes mating. So very sad that this person’s genuine interest was dismissed as ‘bizarre’.

Also very sad is the RSPCA’s dismissal of the person who believed that the RSPCA existed to help sick and injured animals and rang them when she saw what she thought was a poorly rat on her kitchen floor.  Imagine her embarrassment  when the inspector pointed out that it was an onion that had rolled out of her bag, and her mortification on finding her mistake splashed across the media.

A mistake yes, but the RSPCA tells people not to approach wildlife because of the danger the animal can pose and because of the stress it can cause the animal. Would they have preferred her to leave it to suffer?

No doubt there will be many members of the public who will walk away in future instead of trying to help for fear of being mocked and pilloried for daring to care.

The RSPCA gets catty and claims a surplus

Local branches of the RSPCA have been declaring a “Cat Crisis” around the country.  They claim to be inundated with cats and published articles imply that there are hundreds of cats at each branch in need of new homes.

Clicking on an article at random on 19th September, it appears that rehoming centres across the North are full of abandoned cats. Some branches and centres, the article claimed, have more than a hundred waiting for homes.

We went to have a look at the two centres mentioned, Great Ayton and Felledge, expecting huge numbers of moggies to be available for re-homing.

Great Ayton had 16 animals to re-home, of which 10 were cats.  Today it had 18 pets to rehome, of which 8 were cats.

Felledge had 26 animals to re-home, of which 13 are cats.  Today it had 35 pets to rehome, of which 20 were cats.

A report from Maidstone RSPCA claimed they were full, with 60 cats looking for homes.  But on their site only 17 cats were listed and about half were reserved.  Today there are 21 cats on their site, 8 of which are marked Rehomed, and one is marked ‘reserved’.

RSPCA Coventry claim to be full with 47 cats in care and another 200 on their waiting list.  But there are only 11 cats shown as available for rehoming.

RSPCA Rochdale is reported as full with around 70 cats housed there, but only 15 cats are available for adoption on their site.

Cross referencing the RSPCA branches and rehoming centres around the country to the claims made in articles publicising the ‘Cat Crisis’ it was clear that although ‘hundreds’ of cats were mentioned, in reality there were very few available.  (Equally puzzling was the lack of Staffordshire bull terriers looking for homes, but that is the subject of another post).

So what is going on?  Well, there are a few clues in the articles that have been appearing round the country but they indicate a strange collusion between local branches and centres whose main selling point to the donating public has been their independence from the RSPCA in Horsham.

Consider the following quotes:

RSPCA animal operations manager for the Midlands and North region, Peter Bolton, said: “The RSPCA is struggling on all fronts with this cat crisis. Our inspectors are being called out constantly to deal with sick, injured, neglected or abandoned cats.

“Our hospitals are full with injured cats whose owners appeared to have dumped them.

“We have more cats than ever who have been cruelly treated.

“Our staff across the region, whether they are in an RSPCA centre, branch, hospital or a field officer, are all saying the same – we are dealing with a cat crisis and it is getting worse.”


Paul Williams, branch operations manager for the south, said: “The RSPCA is struggling on all fronts with the cat crisis.

“Our inspectors are being called out constantly to deal with sick, injured, neglected or abandoned cats, Our hospitals are full with injured cats whose owners appear to have dumped them.

“We have more cats than ever that have been cruelly treated and our centres across the region are just full with cats and kittens needing new homes.

“Our staff across the region, whether they are in an RSPCA centre, branch, hospital or a field officer all say the same – we are dealing with a cat crisis and it is getting worse.

Confused?  Wondering if Paul Williams gave the quote or if Peter Bolton did?  Or if it was invented by someone at HQ?

There is more.

Alex Boothby, manager of Suffolk East Coast Branch let the cat out of the bag.  he said

“We are meant to keep spaces free for cruelty cases and we are struggling to do that at the moment. We have got cats coming out of our ears.

We know that the RSPCA no longer takes owner surrendered animals or strays.  They only take “RSPCA generated” animals.

Is this why the branches are claiming to have hundreds of cats but have hardly any available for rehoming?  Because RSPCA inspectors are targeting cats?

If there is a difference between the number of animals being held on behalf of RSPCA HQ and animals available for rehoming then the RSPCA, local or national, should be honest and say so.  The current situation is confusing and misleading.

The RSPCA just don’t get it – even when they realise that their brand has become toxic

When news of the internal RSPCA memo leaked to the Times started to break it was obvious that although the RSPCA were beginning to realise that their brand had become toxic they were still in denial about the reasons for the public’s disquiet, even though the author, Paul Draycott,  warned that the RSPCA will not be around in ten years time if it does not address the way it is perceived by the general public.

In the past, the RSPCA’s first instinct has been to try and silence their critics.   Copies of the leaked memo have now been removed from James Barrington’s blog  by request, although he does not state by whose request.  Inevitably, all that this has achieved is the clandestine circulation of the memo among critics and the boosting of its popularity on social media.

The author of the report is right to be concerned but wrong to look anywhere but the RSPCA itself for the reasons behind the current downward spiral.

The downward spiral is not the result of a campaign of villification against the RSPCA orchestrated in conjunction with the Countryside Alliance,  nor is it the result of a lack of support among other campaigning groups.  The fault is not the arrival of Gavin Grant and his ‘in yer face’ political campaigns, although they may have hastened the decline.

For many years the RSPCA has been the ‘golden boy’ of the British media.  Criticisms were either ignored or drowned out by a tidal wave of ‘fluffy bunny’ stories.  The problem for the RSPCA was that in order to keep their media presence they always had to be saying something.  And that something had to be both new and at least slightly upsetting for its target (the donating) audience.

Somewhere in the scrabble for column space the RSPCA discovered that busy journalists rarely had time to check the facts and figures provided in RSPCA press releases .  The figures the RSPCA released began to misrepresent the facts.  Prosecutions became more controversial.  Vulnerable people and groups who would normally be seen as supporters of the RSPCA were perceived as being targeted to raise the numbers of successful prosecutions.  People who were the subject of RSPCA investigations and prosecutions committed suicide and even went missing.  Even those who went on to win their cases and who came out of court with a ‘Not Guilty’ verdict found they had no animals left.  Small sanctuaries, popular among local people, found themselves prosecuted.  Supporters claimed it was because they had attracted donations the RSPCA believed were rightfully theirs.

It did not need glamorous media campaigns driven by the Countryside Alliance to  change the public’s perception of the RSPCA.  The RSPCA achieved it all by themselves.

New ideas which are a complete reversal of generally accepted facts take time to become accepted by the public.  To some extent it is a bit like a nuclear reaction.  It doesn’t matter how agitated or active any individual becomes, unless the people they interact with are prepared to accept those ideas and pass them on, nothing happens.  But when lots of people know someone they don’t think should have been prosecuted, or know about an animal they think was killed unnecessarily, then just like a nuclear reaction that has gone out of control the public viewpoint changes.

There have been lots of warnings over the years that should have alerted the RSPCA to what was happening.  They were ignored.  Having gained a  special position, not only in the eyes of the public and the media, but in the prosecution system too, the RSPCA appears to be unable to accept any criticism or to understand that they only have friends because their friends approve of what they are doing.

Mr. Draycott is correct in worrying that millions of pounds in sponsorship from companies could be lost, but if it is lost it will not be because of political campaigning.  It will be because those who care about the animals in their lives are appalled at the high kill rates and the targeting of vulnerable people.  These people, who fear for their own animals’ safety, are telling companies that they will not patronise those who donate to the RSPCA.  The SHG has been asked to publish a list of companies with links to the RSPCA so that people know who to avoid.

Again, the potential for people changing their wills is a real possibility.  But the reasons are varied.  Even ignoring the horror many people feel at the way the RSPCA treats both animals and the vulnerable, why would anyone leave property to the RSPCA when they fail to follow the wishes of the donor and bulldoze the wildlife haven he left them?   When they go to court to wring more out of the family and friends of the person who left them the money?  Or when they even auction the childhood toys of a daughter who was ultimately successful in challenging her parents’ wills?  If the RSPCA is receiving reports that people are reluctant to leave them legacies they only have themselves to blame.

Legacies and donations fall when people do not believe in the core values of the organisation.   The RSPCA has moved so far away from its ordinary supporters that when it finally realised there was a problem and sent an employee to join internet forums to interact with members, the wave of anger and opposition drove the RSPCA to disappear from the forum, which has now run to 166 pages of posts.

A measure of how angry and disillusioned the public is about the RSPCA is the success of a government e-petition asking for an investigation into the RSPCA’s activities and infringements of civil rights,  which has currently reached nearly 10,000 signatures.

The Draycott report concluded that the RSPCA was “fighting too many battles on too many fronts” and that it needed to regroup and resolve its most urgent problems.  The trouble is that when problems are left to fester they tend to multiply.  The RSPCA has a major problem looming that was only touched on in the report.

The report states:

The Charity Commission has just responded to our latest response to the complaint letter from the NFU.  The fact that they have requested a meeting with the Trustees is worrying.  We need to make sure that when this takes place that all the Trustees are aware of the potential risks involved.  It is quite clear that the stakes have now been raised.

The stakes have been raised far higher than the RSPCA realise.

The Charity Commission recently  published revised public benefit guidancePart 4 of that guidance requires a charity to identify risks of harm, minimise those risks of harm, and to make sure that any harm that might arise is a minor consequence of carrying out the purpose.

The issues and concerns mentioned in this article are the tip of the iceberg in terms of the harm done by the RSPCA.  Can they justify that harm as a minor consequence of carrying out their purpose?  Perhaps the real question is:

How many horses are worth a man’s life?

Will there be a £3 million defecit in the 2013 accounts?  Will they be gone in ten years time?  That is up to the RSPCA itself.

Charity regulators cull RSPCA badger campaign

Despite early reports indicating that the Charity Commission had cleared the RSPCA of any wrongdoing in its campaigns for an end to the badger cull, it was clear that the RSPCA had been required to back track on Gavin Grant’s  calls for farmers involved in the cull to be named and shamed.  The RSPCA also had to  clarify that it had no plans for a milk boycott.  It later became apparent that the Charity Commission’s decision to close this case ‘does not mean that our regulatory duty towards the RSPCA is ended‘.

The Commission intends to meet with the RSPCA’s trustees to ‘discuss the wider issues raised by this case and by the RSPCA’s activities in general’.

Despite stating that “the RSPCA condemns all harassment, intimidation and violence” the RSPCA’s Freedom Food scheme has  written to members warning they will be excluded from the scheme if they take part in the cull, and Gavin Grant stated on Panorama that those who took part in the cull would be named and possibly shamed.

The problem with the RSPCA’s statements is not that they will carry out their threats but that their supporters will take their cue from any comment or statement made by anyone in the RSPCA, especially those seen to be in positions of power within the organisation, such as Mr. Grant.

A pensioner has already put posters up around her village accusing a man of being one of the marksmen hired to shoot badgers.  Others believed to be land owners taking part in the cull are being subjected to harassing visits and telephone calls.

More extreme actions damaging property and risking the lives of people and animals have begun.  A police firing range near Bristol has been burnt to the ground.  Anti-badger cull groups claim responsibility.

The Charity Commission must rein in the RSPCA and make it clear that hyping up people’s emotions is dangerous and not something that a responsible charity, and especially a charity that claims to uphold the law and prosecute the irresponsible should ever contemplate doing.

Important message: Government does not protect

As the badger cull trundles onwards with claim and counterclaim from pro and anti camps, there is an important lesson to be learned that does not seem to appear on the radar of anyone involved:

Government does not protect anyone or anything in perpetuity.

Worse, if government knows where anything or anyone who falls out of favour can be found then they are at best at risk, and at worst in danger of destruction.

Those who wish to protect animals or plants would do well to keep their existence and location secret.  Governments change.  Policies change.

Any form of registration or licensing creates a database for anyone who has the authority to use to destroy either a section or the entirety of any species.

Register, micro-chip or license your dog?  What happens if he is one of the next breed to be banned?  No chance then of claiming he is a cross-breed or of hiding him from the death squads.

Notify the authorities of bat colonies?  What happens if bats fall out of favour?  If the government of the day decides a cull is needed?  After all, who would have believed that badgers who were so strictly protected with their own Act of Parliament would be the subjects of mass culling at the hands of government?

RSPCA – Workfare exploiters

The latest RSPCA charity shop to be broken into and burgled is on the Isle of Wight. 

Comments by Bystander question whether the break in is retribution as the RSPCA have used workfare to force people to work in their shops for no pay and under threat of sanctions and destitution if they refuse.

Boycott Workfare names the RSPCA as one of the charities continuing to use the free labour provided by the scheme and is encouraging people to contact the charities in their list of workfare exploiters.




Religious slaughter and the RSPCA

Gavin Grant,  chief executive of the RSPCA has promised that in coming months the RSPCA will set about trying to ban some of the ‘disgraceful’ slaughtering practices around Halal meat.  We are concerned that a high profile RSPCA campaign,  revolving around  political prosecutions of people who cannot afford to defend themselves, or of minority groups, will do little to improve the lives or deaths of animals but will undoubtedly fuel intolerance and discrimination.

What are the facts behind the issue?

In June 2009 the EU passed a law recognising the validity of religious slaughter.  Abbatoirs in the EU must stun all animals prior to slaughter unless they are being ritually killed for religious purposes.

The EU is considering legislation that would require Halal and Kosher meat products to carry a label stating that the animal was not stunned prior to slaughter.  Both Jewish and Muslim groups oppose the proposal. They claim that it is discriminatory and challenge claims that their methods of slaughter are inhumane.

Positions on religious slaughter vary around the world from country to country, and from political ideology to political ideology.

Last year Professor Bill Reilly, former president of the British Veterinary Association criticised the “unnaceptable” rise in the number of animals killed in ritual slaughter.

Writing in the Veterinary Record Professor Reilly said that if we cannot eliminate non-stunning we need to keep it to a minimum.  He suggests that meat slaughtered for religious reasons should be restricted to those communities only and that where possible attempts shoud be made to convince them of the acceptability of the stunned alternatives.

Under both Jewish and Islamic law animals must be healthy and uninjured at the time of death which is why they rule out pre-stunning, although some Muslim authorities accept some forms of pre-stunning providing they do not kill the animal.  Both faiths dispute claims of cruelty and believe that their method of one swift cut is kinder than other methods because the animal swiftly loses consciousness, bleeding to death.

At the time the statistics were collated Muslims made up only 3% of the UK population but it was estimated that Halal meat provided 25% of the meat market.  Around 20% of halal meat in the UK is from animals slaughtered with no form of stunning.   The remainder is from animals subjected to a method called ‘stun to stun’ which uses a much lower amperage than that recommended for an effective stun.  The Halal Food Authority have admitted that this method ensures that animals are “conscious” when killed.  Strangely the House of Commons Library Post Note on Religious Slaughter makes no mention of stun-to-stun.

Although Kosher slaughtered meat is a very small fraction of the total, it is estimated that 70% of Kosher meat enters the mainstream meat market.

A lot of the meat slaughtered under the religious exemption turns up on supermarket shelves or in ready made meals.

This meat enters the general market because some parts of the animal are forbidden under the dietary laws and it is the wrong cut of meat.  It is claimed that if the meat that is rejected is not allowed to enter the general food chain the religious slaughter operations will become less economically viable.

Public anger has focussed on the fact that there is no way for consumers to know how the food they are eating was slaughtered, whether it is meat bought from the supermarket, ready meals, or food provided by schools, places of work or restaurants.

Even MPs have been unknowingly served Halal meat in House of Commons restaurants, much to their annoyance.  In contrast, just over a year later,  Muslim MPs and Peers were told that they could not have Halal meat in the Palace of Westminster restaurants, despite having previously been assured that meat they were served was Halal, because it is offensive to many of their non-Muslim colleagues.

The government has claimed that there are practical difficuties in tracing where meat has come from in order to label the method of slaughter accurately.  Consumers might wonder how disease outbreaks will be tracked back to source if this proves to be the case.

In a consultation on changes in animal slaughter legislation the Scottish Government admitted that the placing of non-stunned meat slaughtered in the UK into the general food chain has been illegal since 1995.  They too claimed that the problem was one of traceability.

There are also difficulties in ascertaining the actual numbers of animals slaughtered, whether they are pre-stunned and if so, by what method.

For instance the EU Dialrel Project Data indicates that no poultry were slaughtered for Halal production without stunning but the Halal Monitoring Committee (HMC), told The Muslim News that “Poultry certified by HMC is done without stunning.   HMC does not actually certify any abattoir as such, HMC certifies the poultry product that has been witnessed and labelled by the HMC inspectors on site at the time of slaughter.”

Where is the RSPCA in this debate?

Their current information sheet states that “Around 90% of Halal slaughter involves pre-stunning” but fails to mention that stun-to-stun is far less effective than normal stunning methods.

It states that less than 50% of meat slaughtered by Jewish methods is sold in Kosher shops, but fails to point out that this is a fraction of the amount of meat slaughtered by Halal methods.

They propose that religious groups should review their methods of slaughter and they support the proposed labelling of products to enable consumers to choose whether they want to buy meat from animals slaughtered without pre-stunning.

The RSPCA information sheet makes no mention of the illegality of meat from animals slaughtered under the religious exemptions being placed in the general food chain. They have brought no legal challenges to the failure of government to enforce the law.

Perhaps this would have been a better and more “reasonable and effective use of the charity’s resources” than their widely criticised prosecution of the Heythrop hunt.

The Christmas Puppies

We all know that you shouldn’t get a pet at Christmas or give one as a present, and we all know that (R)SPCAs and other welfare and AR groups wouldn’t dream of allowing it because so much is happening over the holiday that it would confuse and distress the animal. . .

Or would they?

The RSPCA in the UK certainly don’t think it is a bad thing for an animal to go to a new home for Christmas.  In November they were running an appeal for fosterers “willing to take in a cat or rabbit to care for over the festive period

Perhaps it is only dogs who become confused when introduced to Christmas festivities?

Not according to RSPCA Queensland in Australia.  Spokesman Michael Beatty said that it was a misconception that the RSPCA discouraged people from buying pets at Christmas.

The RSPCA actually encourages the responsible buying of pets and Mr. Beatty said that the Christmas holiday period is an an ideal time for the family to bond with their new pet and start training sessions.

They don’t, however, believe pets should be given as surprise gifts, and so have created a special gift voucher that recipients can redeem in person and choose a pet that suits them.

Sadly, in the UK, Sheffield RSPCA, along with many other RSPCA rehoming centers,  stops its adoption scheme in the build up to Christmas to prevent potentially irresponsible people from getting dogs as Christmas presents.

Eddie Waiting for a home for 12months

Eddie Waiting for a home for 12 months

Clyde, also waiting for a home after 12 months

Clyde, also waiting for a home after 12 months

Back in Australia RSPCA Queensland have no such worries. Under their Give a Dog a Home initiative this Christmas they have been adopting dogs over four months old for only $199 until the end of December.

and RSPCA New South Wales halved the adoption fee of all adult cats until the 24th December.

RSPCA Toowoomba shelter manager Cassie Walker with Willow, one of the many dogs up for adoption from the Toowoomba shelter.

RSPCA Toowoomba shelter manager Cassie Walker with Willow, one of the many dogs up for adoption from the Toowoomba shelter.

West Lothian Cats Protection in the UK never ever rehome a cat or kitten as a present for someone else and claim that many of those given as presents will find themselves homeless and abandoned by Boxing Day.

Both RSPCA (UK) and Animal Aid agree that pets should not be given as Christmas presents.  They describe pets as a ‘terrible present’ and the RSPCA suggests that people should instead make a donation to the RSPCA in ‘honour of your loved one’ this Christmas.

The Dogs Trust in the UK banned rehousing animals over the Christmas period, from December 20 to January 2nd, despite all its 18 rehousing centres nationwide being full. They claim this is to prevent unwanted pets being returned in the new year.

Are all Christmas gift dogs in the UK neglected and abandoned?  Clearly not!

A girl's best friend: Rosie Atkins gives new arrival Horatio a hug

A girl’s best friend: Rosie Atkins gives new arrival Horatio a hug

The moment people receive a puppy for Christmas is truly magical and guaranteed to put the smile back on your face and the festive joy back in your heart.

Meanwhile in the US Allen County SPCA in Indiana suggests giving animal lovers a Golden Ticket instead of a pet so that they can choose their own animal.  Cat golden tickets are $70 and Dogs are $85.

Back in Australia, Friends of RSPCA in Queensland started an urgent cat sale so they could start taking in pets dumped in the pound over Christmas.

The RSPCA shelter in Darwin is full of unwanted cats and dogs.

In New Zealand the Dunedin SPCA has offered a half-price adoption deal for female cats as their shelter is near full capacity.  They have asked people to make sure that pets given as Christmas presents are actually wanted.

The SPCA of Niagara in the US has beaten this by offering free dog adoptions until Christmas eve and by the 16th December had found new homes for more than 40 dogs, although, as they said,  the supply remained large.

By the 24th December the month long special at the no kill shelter had helped find homes for more than 70 dogs.  They too discourage the giving of pets as an unexpected gift.

Dogs and cats  at the Lakeland SPCA in Florida even found homes on Christmas eve as a long line formed around the building.

Kenneth Wingate, right, of Lakeland, waits in the packed lobby of the SPCA in Lakeland as he holds "Brandi," a 10-month-old female English pointer he and his wife, Pamela, adopted on Monday as a Christmas present for their 16-year-old daughter, Sommer. A large number of people came to the center to adopt pets on Christmas Eve.

Kenneth Wingate, right, of Lakeland, waits in the packed lobby of the SPCA in Lakeland as he holds “Brandi,” a 10-month-old female English pointer he and his wife, Pamela, adopted on Monday as a Christmas present for their 16-year-old daughter, Sommer. A large number of people came to the center to adopt pets on Christmas Eve.

SPCA Florida CEO Sean Hawkins said that although the center was supposed to close at 3 p.m. they planned to stay open long enough to take care of all the people who were in line by then.  He said they always encourage thoughtful additions of new family members during the holidays, and from December 16 to Saturday had reached 131 completed adoptions.

Cats were reduced from $55 to $10 with the second feline adoption fee being waived.

Large dogs, over 40 pounds were reduced from an average of $100 to $50, while small dogs were down from an average of $200 to $100.

Despite the tail wagging Christmas Eve joy over in Florida, an Australian Pet store in Adelaide, the Pet Spot, refused to sell puppies until after Christmas.

Back in New Zealand the Palmerston North SPCA urged peope to avoid buying animals as gifts except where it has been a family decision.  Staff have taken a hard line this year to prevent the SPCA becoming a ‘dumping ground’.  Their staff no longer go out and hunt for strays to take in for food and shelter.  Palmerston North SPCA has had a stong year prosecuting people.

Meanwhile, in the US the Christmas joy continued for the second Christmas adoption programme as Cumberland County South Jersey SPCA delivered pets on Christmas morning.

Cumberland County South Jersey SPCA delivered pets on Christmas morning

Cumberland County South Jersey SPCA delivered pets on Christmas morning

Volunteers placed kittens in the arms of excited children who were told that Santa’s helpers had a special delivery for them.  The kittens came with enough cat food and litter to get them through Christmas Day.

Some of the cats, kittens and puppies were taken home before the big day.

The programme started after a volunteer saw another shelter in Texas doing the same.

They seem to have got it right.

Delighted,  Jackson and Olivia played with the kittens in front of their Christmas tree and appeared oblivious to the fact they were surrounded by other gifts.

“These are the best kittens ever,” Olivia said.

A Christmas wish come true

A Christmas wish come true

Still in the US, at North Country SPCA, New York,  the 31 Cats of December featured thirty-one very special cats, many of whom were long term residents of the shelter, whose adoption fee was waived until the end of the month.

The SPCA of Cincinnati found homes for 2000 more animals in 2012 than last year, the increase being partly fuelled by low adoption costs of $20 for dogs and $10 for cats.  They ran extended holiday adoption hours right up to 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

Back in the UK again, the Scottish SPCA is not rehoming young animals between 20 December and 3 January to “prevent them being taken on by someone who wants a new pet for Christmas and hasn’t fully thought through their decision” according to Superintendent Sharon Comrie.

The SSPCA had 804 animals in their care on Christmas Day.

And now that Christmas is over, who got it right?  The answer is your answer to the question:

If you were a child or a pound puppy this Christmas,  how would you rather have spent the holiday season?