RSPCA’s new weapon to lobby govt: Facebook


by Sunny Hundal    
4:30 pm - May 10th 2012

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The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is trying a new approach to lobbying government on its agenda – it has developed a native Facebook application.

This charity sent out a release telling journalists it had developed a ‘performance card’ for readers to rate the government’s performance on animal welfare.

They told us it was also borne out of frustration from people who cared about the issue, “we’ve all had enough.”

The ‘Animal Welfare Report Card’ is hosted on the RSPCA’s official Facebook page. Key animal welfare issues are presented as ‘subjects’ offering both background on the issue and ‘teachers notes’, for users to make their own assessment.

The RSPCA have also published their own fuller ‘report card’, analysing the government’s achievements on areas covering pet animals, farming, wildlife and those used in research.

The most common grade? An ‘F’

A spokeswoman told us:

This is a real change of direction for the RSPCA, our campaigns have traditionally been quite soft, but there has been failing after failing on animal welfare issues, the latest being the government having failed to grasp the issue of irresponsible dog ownership and announcing a set of measures that fall way short of addressing any of the problems associated with this anti-social behaviour.

David Bowles, director of communications, says:

What has been highlighted in this school report is the clear divide between how the public feel and how the government acts.

The public is extremely concerned about animal welfare, as seen in the huge number of responses to consultations on badgers, circuses and laboratory animals, so it is very concerning that the government appears to have ignored these.

The RSPCA hopes the government will take its and the public’s comments from the reports on board.

See the RSPCA report and application on Facebook here

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


The RSPCA is a joke; ‘animal welfare’ my arse. Yes, if killing healthy animals after 2 weeks is a synonym for looking after them.

Hi Nikki, do you have any evidence for this? If so I’d like to see it, in all seriousness.

3. Churm Rincewind

There is an enormous amount of hypocrisy in operation here. There can be no question that most animal cruelty in the UK is inflicted on domestic pets – e.g, the “dog control” problems highlighted by the RSPCA in the illustration above.

It’s therefore ridiculous to claim that “the public” is extremely concerned about animal welfare. No they’re not, because it’s the public at large that’s inflicting the cruelty.

It’s so much easier to complain about “badgers, circuses, and laboratory animals”. Why bother with the facts when you can blame someone else?

The RSPCA has taken a very weird turn if this is anything to go by. They appear to have been influenced by the animal rights movement. How long until the “R” disappears?

@2 I’ve certainly heard of PETA pulling such tricks, but I too would like to see evidence that the RSPCA is up to similar activities.

6. Charlieman

In the second illustration above, I find the “Teachers Notes [sic] on pupil behaviour” utterly meaningless. The category “Details” outlines problems that need to be addressed; but there is no policy, just a semi-humorous comment.

It is probably a clever way of communicating RSPCA concerns and values.

Teacher’s Notes on pupil behaviour: A valiant effort, but must contain policy.

It’s therefore ridiculous to claim that “the public” is extremely concerned about animal welfare. No they’re not, because it’s the public at large that’s inflicting the cruelty.

Typical example of someone projecting their own thoughts on everyone else.

@Cherub, this is nothing to do with AR, just pure welfare claptrap. AR gives real hope to non-humans that they might one day not be seen as chattel property; welfare simply makes the abusers feel better about their abuse.

Yes, if killing healthy animals after 2 weeks is a synonym for looking after them.

I’m not the RSPCA’s number one fan, but if the choice is:
1) not being able to afford to keep an animal in decent conditions
2) euthanising the animal

…then anyone who’d object to #2 is deeply stupid.

10. So Much For Subtlety

8. Dave

AR gives real hope to non-humans that they might one day not be seen as chattel property

Really? Can you please introduce me to one non-human that is capable of understanding (a) hope or (b) what the future might bring?

The RSPCA has simply lost the plot and become an organisation more concerned with bullying humans than with saving animals. It ought to be ignored.

welfare simply makes the abusers feel better about their abuse.

Wait… WHAT?

He’s coming from the extremist AR point of view that animals deserve emancipation and equal rights with humans.

So from the welfare point of view, we owe it not to be gratuitously cruel (whether through choice or negligence) to animals, but we do have the right to kill them for food, the right to euthanise them, the right to control their breeding, etc.

From the AR point of view, the above are just as disgraceful as slavery.

As SMFS highlights, this is obviously ridiculous (with some blurry exceptions at the top of the primate and cetacean groups, perhaps).

13. Chaise Guevara

@ 3 Churm

“It’s therefore ridiculous to claim that “the public” is extremely concerned about animal welfare. No they’re not, because it’s the public at large that’s inflicting the cruelty.”

It’s the public who commit child abuse and honour slayings. Therefore nobody cares about child abuse and honour slayings, which is why the newspapers never make a big deal out of them.

Must try harder.

14. Chaise Guevara

It’s a pretty good idea. Create something interactive and amusing to raise awareness. Why not?

“The most common grade? An ‘F’”

Sunny, you present this like it’s some kind of smackdown against the government. Because obviously you can get unbiased assessments of animal welfare from a propaganda piece by an animal welfare group.

Do we have a link to the RSPCA’s scorecard, by the way, the one with all the Fs? Can’t see it at the link provided.

15. Churm Rincewind

@ 7 Sunny: “Typical example of someone projecting their thoughts on someone else.” I’m unsure of your point. Do you mean the RSPCA is trying to project its views on others? Or that I’m projecting my views on to the public (in answer to that one, see below)? Or that you’re projecting your assumptions about my views on to me?

@ 13 Chaise Guevara: I apply the same golden rule to the public as I do to politicians – it’s not what they say that’s important, it’s what they do. I said that it’s the public at large which is mainly responsible for animal cruelty, by which I meant that it’s extremely common and widespread amongst the public. It follows from the golden rule that in general the public is largely indifferent to animal welfare, in spite of whatever concern they may claim. Well, no-one’s going to say they’re in favour of animal cruelty, are they? Your examples of honour killings and child abuse are thankfully rare events, and can be taken as evidence far clearer than tabloid reporting that the general public does not view them with indifference. The analogy does not hold.

For anyone who doubts the public’s capacity for cruelty to animals, let’s take (say) the 1.6 million pet rabbits kept in the UK. According to the PDSA, the majority suffer from neglect and face “an unhappy, lonely existence in cramped accommodation, whilst being fed an innappropriate diet and suffering from a range of painful diseases”. That’s the public that’s doing that, that is. Or we could consider the 4.2 million people who have gone angling in the last couple of years – an activity which involves inserting a barbed metal hook into an animal’s mouth, often suffocating the creature by removing it from the water, and frequently then beating its brains out with a club. There are many, many further examples of what the public gets up to, as opposed to what they say. Did I mention ritual slaughter?

The evidence is clear and overwhelming. My charge of hypocrisy amongst the public at large still stands.

16. Chaise Guevara

@ 15 Churm

“I apply the same golden rule to the public as I do to politicians – it’s not what they say that’s important, it’s what they do. I said that it’s the public at large which is mainly responsible for animal cruelty, by which I meant that it’s extremely common and widespread amongst the public.”

OK, that’s valid, but only if true. Are *most* people cruel to animals? Or is there data showing that most people aren’t bothered?

Also, people are weird. A lot of people seem to think that using a choke-collar on a dog (for example) is evil, but will happily scoff down battery chicken without a second’s thought. That’s hypocrisy, if you like (and if so, I agree), but it doesn’t mean they don’t care about animal welfare. It means they only care about cute (or, more charitably, clever) animals.

“Your examples of honour killings and child abuse are thankfully rare events, and can be taken as evidence far clearer than tabloid reporting that the general public does not view them with indifference.”

I’d say tabloid reporting is clearer evidence. There’s a difference between not doing something and being outraged by it.

17. Churm Rincewind

@ 16 Chiaes Guevera: You make interesting points, as always. And without extending this thread beyond its natural course, I would only repeat that what you call “weird” but I call hypocritical is sadly the norm in any discussion of animal welfare, which tend to be dominated by double standards, sentimentality, and expediency.

Thus Sunny’s original remark that “the public is extremely concerned about animal welfare, as seen in the huge number of responses to consultations on badgers, circuses and animal experiments” could with equalkt truth have been replaced by the statement “the public is extremely unconcerned about animal welfare, as seen in its indifference to any issues which might directly affect them, such as angling, battery farming, or the keeping of pet rabbits”.

Oh well. I think it’s an important issue, worth coherent debate. So I guess that’s why I was disappointed by the original post.

18. Charlieman

@10. So Much For Subtlety: “Really? Can you please introduce me to one non-human that is capable of understanding (a) hope or (b) what the future might bring?”

You ain’t daft SMFS so I am sure that you have read about behavioural experiments and observations of non-human primates.

They demonstrate loss (death of partners or removal of toys), ability to operate mechanical devices or to make tools, and most significantly, empathy. They will turn a knob to feed another primate.

Evidence of empathy or co-operation is not proof of anything other than itself. Scientists have conducted behavioural experiments with non-human primates for years and we are starting to understand them. Maybe the other primates have aspirations and a sense of time? Are you not interested?

I attempt to be rational about animal rights and the surrounding arguments. I would be shocked if the above comments were construed other than “primates are fascinating”.

19. So Much For Subtlety

15. Churm Rincewind

Well, no-one’s going to say they’re in favour of animal cruelty, are they?

I would in the right circumstances. Someone who travelled across Mongolia in the 1920s said that if a camel broke its leg, the Mongol caravan workers would leave it to die on the steppe from cold and thirst. Because, you see, they were good Buddhists. Killing was cruel and wrong. Who knew what might happen to save the animal but either way they did not kill it. I would say that people who do the right thing and kill their animals when they need killing is a morally better person. Would you?

Or we could consider the 4.2 million people who have gone angling in the last couple of years – an activity which involves inserting a barbed metal hook into an animal’s mouth, often suffocating the creature by removing it from the water, and frequently then beating its brains out with a club.

But that may be reducing the level of animal suffering in the world. Because the life of a fish in the water is not pleasant. They will be ripped to pieces by some other animal and eaten by and large. I don’t see how being speared and eaten alive by a bird is less cruel. Or starving to death. So you have not made you case really.

Charlieman

They demonstrate loss (death of partners or removal of toys), ability to operate mechanical devices or to make tools, and most significantly, empathy. They will turn a knob to feed another primate.

They demonstrate that they can exhibit behaviours interpreted by scientists as loss. I am not sure that empathy explains why they will turn a knob to feed another primate. But hope? Concern about the future?

Maybe the other primates have aspirations and a sense of time? Are you not interested?

Maybe they do. I liked the monkeys they trained to use money who then promptly invented prostitution. But we don’t know.

However I do agree that experiments on primates ought to be strongly controlled.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Jason Brickley

    RSPCA’s new weapon to lobby govt: Facebook http://t.co/avgHyGAE

  2. ann

    RSPCA’s new weapon to lobby govt: Facebook | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/sryuJqng via @libcon

  3. ann

    RSPCA's new weapon to lobby govt: Facebook http://t.co/LDuBs07u

  4. Julie Gordon

    RSPCA's new weapon to lobby govt: Facebook http://t.co/LDuBs07u

  5. sunny hundal

    The RSPCA is trying a new approach to lobbying govt on animal welfare: a Facebook application http://t.co/AC2HLtHQ

  6. KeepTheBan

    The RSPCA is trying a new approach to lobbying govt on animal welfare: a Facebook application http://t.co/AC2HLtHQ

  7. ann

    The RSPCA is trying a new approach to lobbying govt on animal welfare: a Facebook application http://t.co/AC2HLtHQ

  8. leftlinks

    Liberal Conspiracy – RSPCA’s new weapon to lobby govt: Facebook http://t.co/PEwP6JuW

  9. Richard

    RSPCA’s new weapon to lobby govt: Facebook | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/Vfi8dUva via @libcon

  10. Viv

    RSPCA’s new weapon to lobby govt: Facebook http://t.co/hvMOUKu1 < The RSPCA has faults, but this is a good way to 'out' poor animal rights.

  11. Christine Quigley

    Via @libcon, really interesting example of digital campaigning from @RSPCA_official: http://t.co/hWv4wzLd

  12. RSPCA Political Team

    RSPCA's new weapon to lobby govt: Facebook http://t.co/LDuBs07u

  13. Violet at the RSPCA

    My fave blog @Libcon on the RSPCA's Animal Welfare Report Card app http://t.co/yQDZehwj

  14. RSPCA Community

    RSPCA's new weapon to lobby govt: Facebook http://t.co/LDuBs07u

  15. helen gibson davies

    My fave blog @Libcon on the RSPCA's Animal Welfare Report Card app http://t.co/yQDZehwj





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