Your Guide to the Reality of Animal Circus

"The academic panel concluded that there appears to be little evidence to demonstrate that the welfare of animals kept in travelling circuses is any better or worse than that of animals kept in other captive environments" - Executive Summary of the DEFRA Circus Working Group 2007

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Tuesday, 19 February 2013

The Radical Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals?

Rouster has observed over the past year how the RSPCA, the UK's most famous animal welfare charity, has started to do an apparent U-turn on its non-radical front.  Up until 2012 the RSPCA had been involved in a wide range of activities that seemed to indicate the society's desire to be seen as an animal welfare group rather than a militant political group. They launched a food label to brand meats, milk and other animal products as "cruelty-free" from approved farmers. The RSPCA also indicated an interest in helping to create achievable standards in animal training and various other animal industries. These actions demonstrated a desire to work alongside the animal companies that animal right groups oppose directly, solely on ethical grounds.  It suggested that the RSPCA's focus was on improving the welfare of animals in all industries, which is the sort of behaviour that Rouster endorses and applauds.  It was comparable to the approaches taken by other sensible, animal welfare and environmental groups that are pro-animals and pro-nature, but not anti-human.

This attitude was a far cry from the time when the group's charitable status was challenged back in 1998 for the inclusion of an animal rights declaration within its own policy statement. When challenged, the RSPCA promptly dropped the statement "We do not accept that a difference in species alone (any more than a difference in race) can justify wanton exploitation or oppression in the name of science or sport, or for use as food, for commercial profit or for other human gain." In a public show of assurance that they were not anti-human, the RSPCA went as far as to say in their amended policy
document that their society cannot "pursue policies which, while benefiting animals, would have a detrimental effect on human kind".  For more information, please refer to the BBC report here: "RSPCA drops declaration for animal rights". Their charity status was retained and all seemed well.  

This moderate animal-welfarist stance seems again, to have been abandoned.  Over the past year, and in recent times, the RSPCA has found itself in the thick of controversy in ways that are normally associated with the more extreme animal rights groups. In November 2012, the RSPCA's Chief Executive 
Gavin Grant said in response to the Government's decision to begin a badger cull to curb the spread of tuberculosis: "The spotlight of attention will be turned on those marksmen and on those who give permission for this cull to take place. They will be named and we will decide as citizens of this country whether they will be shamed".  Effectively, they incited public vigilante action against people carrying out a legal operation sanctioned by the government.  Rouster wrote this post on the whole incident, at the time: "Terrorism Begins at Home".

As the New Year beckoned, the Daily Mail published an exposé of the RSPCA's animal euthanasia 
programme . Rouster reported on this in "More things in common".  The issue at stake here was the disproportionate amount of "rescued" animals which are euthanized in the charity's care.  This is a behaviour surprisingly common within animal rights organisations - their ethics put a higher value on animals being able to "fulfil their natural destiny" than on being alive, in essence.  If the animals cannot be rehomed according to the organisations' often unreasonable standards, they are destroyed.  PETA in particular has been routinely shamed for putting down 97% of the animals it "rescues" every year, including perfectly healthy, problem-free animals.  Yet, animal lovers unaware of this shocking truth continue to support its work, believing that it benefits animals.

In February 2012, the Spectator woke to the shocking truth within the RSPCA.  Their revealing piece, 

"Does the RSPCA think it’s the FBI?” raised the concern that "The once-cuddly animal charity seems to have become another species altogether":

"Imagine what would happen if J. Edgar Hoover, founder of the FBI, were running the RSPCA. It sounds ridiculous, I know. But suspend your disbelief for a second, and suppose that a crusading individual convinced of his destiny to conduct a campaign against wrong-doing had turned the nation’s favourite animal charity into a quasi-official investigations unit, targeting those people and institutions he personally disapproved of."

The article speaks for itself, and we urge you to read it.  The bottom line, and there is no getting away from this, is that the RSPCA has quite obviously become militant. Thankfully, this has not escaped people's notice:

"The Charity Commission has intervened and a Commons debate was held this week, with MPs questioning the RSPCA’s prosecution policies. There is anxiety about whether its officers should wear uniforms designed to make them look like police, when in truth they have no more power than I have to knock on your door and demand to see whether your pet cat is being treated for its arthritis. Nor does the charity have any special prosecuting powers, though its attitude would lead you to believe it does."

We can only hope that the RSPCA, who ultimately gain their financial support mainly from animal lovers, not animal terrorists, will see the error of its ways and return to its less-sinister role.  If this does not take place, the Charity Commission should take a serious look at what the RSPCA's activities and attitude really are.  Militant political organisations should not be allowed to con the public into funding unsavoury activities bordering on the illegal by masquerading as charities.

Astley's Legacy was formed to counter the misinformation and propaganda spread by animal rights activists. As well as fighting the corner for circus animals and their trainers, we are here to promote and celebrate the cultural heritage of circus in general, and especially in the country of its birth - Great Britain. For more information please see our Facebook group
Or follow us on Twitter: @RousterAstley

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