Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Feral Cats

Cats who have not been handled as kittens will generally not be willing to live in close contact with people as adults. For this reason it is usually preferable for them to be neutered and released as the alternative is keeping them permanently confined.

This is Moses, who has just been castrated and also treated for an abscess on his face and blood tested for FIV/FeLV. You can just see the wound under his right eye where the vets flushed and cleaned the abscess.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Book Signing Event at 188 Mill Road Easter Saturday

Joan Court will be signing copies of her new book, Animals Betrayed,  at the RSPCA bookshop, 188 Mill road, Cambridge on Easter Saturday March 30th between 2  and 5 pm.

Copies of the book will be available to buy at £12.50 and Joan is donating £4.50 per copy to the RSPCA Cambridge Spring Appeal.

During 2012 the RSPCA branch animal clinic provided 3,799 low cost treatments for pets whose owners could not afford a private vet and the group rehomed a total of 150 animals.

The branch aims to double RSPCA membership and regular giving as part of its plan to sustain its work of preventing cruelty and neglect. 

Joan thoroughly supports their efforts as her many years working with low-income families have made her very aware of the devastating impact it can have on children if their pets fall ill and there is no money available to get them treated:

“People who are already living on a knife-edge can’t be expected to budget — they love their animals but they can’t put money aside for pet insurance or savings. Animals may be their only comfort, so it’s impossible to lecture and say they shouldn’t have pets if they can’t afford them. Cambridge RSPCA do wonders with not enough support and I urge everyone who cares about animals to pick up a form at the charity shop and become a member.”

Did you know?
Volunteers at the RSPCA bookshop, on Mill Road, sort and shelve nearly 5 tons of donated books each year. That’s a lot of potential reading bargains!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Animal Welfare or Animal Rights?

In 1913 the RSPCA published pamphlets discussing the rights of animals and no-one seems to have thought this was anything untoward.

Today,  one of the frequent criticisms made by those who claim that the Society has "lost its way" is that we have been taken over by the supporters of animal rights and that we ought to be forced to promote animal welfare instead.

I have to say that I doubt whether many of the people who claim they no longer support the RSPCA for this reason are a great loss.

Leaving that to one side, I think it's essential that we take the initiative to reclaim the concept of "welfare" instead of letting it be used as a way to attack initiatives to make life better for animals.

"Welfare" is practical; if I look at a cat and see he has an abscess, I need to take practical steps to get him treated. If I'm caring for a rabbit I need to understand that rabbits are obligate fibre eaters and must get most of their calories from hay and grass or risk potentially distressing and fatal gut and jaw disorders. All this is based on knowledge and science, rather than abstract reasoning.
"Rights" or, if you prefer, duties toward animals, are more theoretical. How should we weigh up the conflicting needs of different kinds of animals? Is it right to give higher priority to animals who share our lives, such as cats and dogs, on the basis that "charity begins at home"? Is it better for animals to have short and happy lives rather than never to have been born at all?

It's nonsense to say we can usefully focus entirely on practical information because we still have to make choices about the way we go about applying that knowledge. Conversely, someone who can't accept that the ecological niche of some animals is in human society, because he has a romantic ideal of "nature" and despises scientific knowledge, is liable to be worse than useless.

We need both kinds of knowledge; practical and theoretical.

I'm sorry to sound rather like a stuck record, but this is exactly what the RSPCA should be for, because its size and the varied talents of its staff and volunteers make it possible to engage on all the levels needed to generate real benefits for animals.