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RSPCA under fire from animal rights groups

It can sometimes be difficult to keep up with the latest ‘stunt’ perpetrated by any one of the fanatical groups that take great pleasure from annoying the public. Only yesterday, the country looked on in disbelief after a mob of anti-oil protestors desecrated Stonehenge.

Last week, two activists sparked outrage after they defaced the King’s portrait in a London gallery. The King was targeted because he is the Royal Patron of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which runs an accreditation scheme known as RSPCA Assured that “charges hatcheries, farms, hauliers and abattoirs an annual membership fee”.

The stunt, which thankfully saw no damage to the portrait itself, follows the publication of an ‘investigation’ by Animal Rising - formerly Animal Rebellion- into 45 farms signed up to the scheme in which it alleged animal cruelty and suffering took place.

For their part, the RSPCA has released a statement in response saying: “RSPCA Assured is acting swiftly to look into these allegations [...] Any concerns about welfare on RSPCA Assured certified farms are taken extremely seriously”. This is obviously the right course of action and any legal breaches must be investigated and dealt with robustly.

However, rival animal rights groups, including Animal Rising, have demanded the scheme be scrapped altogether, claiming it “flies in the face of everything the RSPCA should stand for”.

The RSPCA, which has only recently rebranded to assert its compassion for all creatures including spiders and snails, has since found itself at the centre of protests and friendly fire from its own President, Chris Packham, who has called for the scheme to be suspended.

While the highest standards in livestock farming must always be upheld - without question-, it seems odd that this incredibly valuable scheme faces the chop, particularly when the chief agitators are self-appointed animal lovers. There is no question that the scheme, which, in 2022, covered more than 24 million UK animals, has been a success. In 2021, an independent review of RSPCA Assured found it was making a “positive and significant impact on improving the lives of 136 million animals a year in the UK”. UK Compassion in World Farming argue the scheme has succeeded in raising baseline standards.

When contacted by the Telegraph for its view of the debacle, the Countryside Alliance said: “We should be welcoming and encouraging schemes that support and promote the highest quality of animal welfare when it comes to livestock farming”.

Animal Justice, another fringe animal rights group, argued: “the RSPCA should advocate for plant-based farming, helping farmers transition and promoting veganism”.

Clearly, the RSPCA has an important responsibility to ensure those subscribed to its scheme follow the high standards expected. Given the vast bulk of the British public eat meat and dairy as part of their diet, this is an important scheme which provides a valued consideration for consumers. The RSPCA must not bend to the demands of groups that wish to police what the public eat.


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