James Yeates, the RSPCA’s chief vet, suggests that all pet owners should be licensed, appearing to go further than the charity’s formal call for dog owners to have licences
Pet owners should be forced to join a register, buy a licence and pass a competence test to help tackle the abuse of animals, the RSPCA’s chief vet has suggested.
James Yeates said the introduction of such measures would “make it clear” that owning a pet was a “privilege and a responsibility”.
Many pet owners are unable to take care of their animals and in some cases are unwilling to do so, Dr Yeates warned. He said that the RSPCA investigated 150,000 cases of cruelty last year, having received more than a million calls about animals in distress.
However, vets questioned Dr Yeates’s suggestion, saying that compulsory registration could be costly and difficult to enforce. One Conservative MP said the proposal amounted to “interference” and a “significant insult” to pet owners.
Dr Yeates’s intervention, reported in (1) the Veterinary Times, comes amid a growing dispute over the role of the RSPCA, which has faced criticism over its initiation of private prosecutions and raids on small animal sanctuaries.
On Saturday in an interview with The Telegraph, Gen Sir Barney White-Spunner, the head of the Countryside Alliance, said that the RSPCA had turned into a “sinister and nasty” organisation, more interested in animal rights than promoting welfare. The RSPCA said that Sir Barney was “out of touch”, adding that it was focused on stopping animal abuse.
In 2010 the charity claimed that introducing dog licences could raise £100 million to improve the animals’ welfare and reduce their use as status symbols or weapons.
Dr Yeates appeared to suggest that mandatory licences should be introduced for owners of all pets, not just dogs. He said: “If you are talking about registration, there are a number of potential advantages.
Traceability and accountability are two things that could be solved and if you put certain conditions in place for pet ownership, you could ensure competence or training, or capacity.
“You could use some of the money … for buying a licence to offset harm to animals − either part of the licence would have third-party insurance or some of the funds from that could be used elsewhere. It would also make it clear that pet ownership is a privilege and a responsibility.”
In the past, officials have considered proposals to introduce a “competency test” for all dog owners. However, a document drawn up in 2010 by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said that the cost of setting up such a scheme was “likely to be prohibitive”.
Dr Yeates said he wanted to tackle the problem of owners not taking proper care of their animals, adding that many sought to give up pets which they had failed to care for.
His comments were criticised by Simon Hart, a Tory MP and former chief executive of the Countryside Alliance, who said the practical obstacles to implementing the scheme would be “ludicrous”.
He added: “It is quite a significant insult to the vast majority of people who care for their animals with enormous dedication, affection and skill, whether it is a guinea pig or a horse. They manage that perfectly well without the interference of the RSPCA.
“The idea that regulation is either practical or sensible or deliverable or would actually have any positive effect just tells you everything you need to know about the mindset of the RSPCA. It sees itself not as a body that is there to help animals, it believes its job is to regulate people.”
Many cases of “so-called cruelty” were often instances where “well-meaning people” needed “a bit of help” because they could not bring themselves to have their dogs put down or failed to understand the consequences of overfeeding their pets, Mr Hart added.
Dr Yeates’s comments came in a debate held last month by the British Veterinary Association (BVA), the main representative body for vets.
Robin Hargreaves, the BVA’s president, said: “We must question how compulsory registration could be effectively and affordably enforced.” He added that the “education” of pet owners should be the main focus for those tackling animal welfare problems.
On Saturday the RSPCA said that although it was lobbying for dogs to be licensed and was looking at various ways to tackle cruelty, licensing all pets “is certainly not something [Dr Yeates] as an individual or we as an institution are calling for”.
See my take on this story below.
My Take on This Story
Once again the RSPCA have shot themselves well and truly in the foot. James Yeates the chief Vet of this embattled organisation, has come out with an absolute gem.
“Pet owners should be forced to join a register, buy a licence and pass a competence test to help tackle the abuse of animals”
This outpouring has been roundly trounced by Vets and politicians alike Exactly what planet is this person on?
Read the words again, it recommends licences, registration and a competence test for EVERY animal. That includes Mice, Snakes, Stick Insects, Canaries, Goldfish and Uncle Tom Cobley and all.
I was invited to contribute as a behaviourist onto LBC, London’s Biggest Conversation tonight. After asking me my opinion at the start of the show, nearly every caller attacked the RSPCA.
LBC asked the RSPCA to come on and answer the accusations, apparently, they had no one free. Too busy prosecuting (2) Innocent People or putting down healthy animals I presume?
The RSPCA has lost its way over the recent years. It appears to have changed from an animal welfare organisation to an animal rights institution. It has been suggested that the RSPCA killed 57000 healthy pets last year. Though the figures have not been published by the RSPCA. I wonder why? Yet it has the effrontery to be an organisation for prosecution rather than prevention.
We already have PETA as the conscience of the nation. they also do not want anyone to own any pets whatsoever. They see pet ownership as slavery.
The fat cat boss of the RSPCA Gavin Grant has it is believed, awarded himself up to a 45% pay rise. This may mean an income of £160.000 a year. Though of course, the RSPCA will not confirm nor deny this figure.
At a time of austerity and everyone taking a hammering, he awards himself a massive salary increase. Unbelievable especially as their charitable donations are apparently dropping like today’s barometers.
All that for presiding over the downfall of a once-great institution and organisation. Well done Gavin! I think I am right in thinking that the other politicians are angling for a large pay rise as well?
The last few years have seen the top job going to a number of failed politicians (mainly Lib Dems) who else? Under their management, the RSPCA has managed to bleed (3) Workers, Supporters and Income. Never employ a failed politician. If they cannot screw up the country, they will screw up something else.
It is fair to say that the RSPCA are not my favourite charity. I thought it was a charity, not a Gravy Chain. I believe that they may have been infiltrated by animal rights organisations such as ALF. (the Animal Liberation Front.)
Dr Yeates’s intervention, reported in the Veterinary Times, comes amid a growing dispute over the role of the RSPCA, which has faced criticism over its initiation of private prosecutions and raids on small animal sanctuaries.
I agree we do have an educational void when it comes to looking after our pets, but there are masses of information on what we should be doing readily at hand. It’s called The Internet.
However, it is my opinion that the real problem with animals in this country and abroad are the breeders. Breed two aggressive dogs and you get a litter of aggressive dogs. There must be more control over the breeding of pets. It is far easier to control the breeder than the owners as there are many more owners than breeders.
For instance, a standard litter of puppies would be on average 6 to 8 puppies times that by twice a year if they only own 1 dog and are breeding it.
A commercial breeder can kick out up to 300 dogs a year. A puppy farm many more than that. Let’s stop attacking just the owner and their pets, and also look at the people creating many of these problems. The puppy farms and back street breeders kicking out overly priced mongrels with no pedigrees or health certificates.
In two days time, we have a New Year. Let hope in 2014 that we have better pronouncements about how to deal with the pet problem in the UK than this garbage, from our largest and richest animal charity.
I for one will never waste my money for the benefit of Mr Gavin Grant’s salary.
Sunday 29th December 2013
(2) Innocent People