On this day in 1824, the RSPCA, then the SPCA was founded in a London coffee shop. One would hope that no one would disagree with prevention of cruelty to animals, but of course there is no consensus as to what constitutes cruelty.
Some things are obvious: anyone who attends a rescue class at a dog show will hear tale after tale of terrible cruelty. Less direct abuse such as allowing a pet to become obese, treating a dog like a fashion accessory and carrying it everywhere, refusing to accede to or pay for veterinary treatment etc etc are not so easy to address, not least because they are quite widespread.
Increasingly, it seems that this once highly respected charity is being regarded in lower and lower esteem. Mention the RSPCA to most dog or horse owners and at best snorts of derision will issue forth. Mostly there is anecdote after anecdote about the disinterest and rudeness exhibited when cruelty has been reported or over-zealous attention from the RSPCA when animals are under veterinary care and are mistakenly reported.
Most think that it is a scandal that the organisation has spent vast sums of donated money in pursuing legal cases against hunt staff yet seems to be unable or unwilling to respond when early signs of abuse are reported by the public.
No doubt individual officers are doing a difficult and necessary job in the face of increasing welfare problems, but the organisation as a whole is not held in high regard and needs to consider its founding principals and real priorities if it is to make real strides in improving dog welfare.