Our Nation Today

Senator Malcolm Roberts calls for the RSPCA to be de-registered as a charity.

July 17, 2021

In this podcast two guests join us to a discuss our modern-day RSPCA.  What might surprise you is that this isn’t a heart-warming story.

The Royal Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, known as the RSPCA, dates to 1871 when a public meeting was held in Victoria in response to the ill treatment of horses.  The QLD RSPCA was formed in 1883.  The RSPCA is a household name and many consider it a beacon of respect and care for animals.

Today, the RSPCA has capitalised on its branding of animal welfare with producers and brand owners being able to use the RSPCA logo to reflect their shared vision for animal welfare.  Today we can buy RSPCA approved meat in our supermarkets.  Typically, we don’t question the integrity of the claimed “animal welfare” standards as we take for granted that this iconic brand is squeaky clean.

Several QLD constituents contacted my office recently with extraordinary stories about how the RSPCA were conducting themselves.  Since asking questions at Senate Estimates about the RSPCA, their methods and the legitimacy of their not-for-profit status, we’ve been flooded with more calls and emails.  Their stories share many similar themes and the overall message is that there is something rotten in the state of the RSPCA.

The concerns being raised are varied.

The RSPCA’s charity status means that they are not-for-profit and enjoy a tax-free status.  Looking closely at the recent annual report it shows revenue was $58 million and included in that is a $4 million Federal Govt grant.  The hefty surplus of $8.7 million is what prompted Senate Estimates questions of the Commissioner for Charities and Not-For-Profits.  My questions were about whether the RSPCA should continue to enjoy charitable status? We’re waiting for that answer as no-one could provide one on the day.

The RSPCA appears to be leveraging its charity branding to become heavily commercial.  I have already mentioned the RSPCA approved meat and today RSPCA pet shops are being set up in the suburbs.  On the face of it there is no problem.  It is when we understand how the RSPCA is conducting itself under its Inspectorate powers, that we see the problem.

The RSPCA’s Inspectorate of RSPCA QLD, has power to investigate and confiscate animals that are poorly treated.  That is the heart of what we expect from them.  What we don’t expect is seizure of animals based on lies.  We have dozens of examples where Inspectorate officers have entered properties and confiscated with no prior notification or investigation.  All this is based on an anonymous tip off that is never disclosed to the property owners.  The warrants JPs sign sometimes use photographs of animals in poor conditions, which do not match the animals to be seized.  This is only the beginning.  Some pet owners have then seen their animals online for sale within days.  This is the problem when the RSPCA have a commercial arm alongside their charitable arm when they can confiscate and sell based on misuse of powers and lies.  This is a clear conflict of interest.

Many pet shop owners, registered breeders, private pet owners, animal rescuers and veterinarians have experienced the full force of the RSPCA’s misuse of power.  Many have spoken out against this strong arm approach and suffered the consequences.  Pet shop businesses have been sabotaged when the RSPCA advises their suppliers to blacklist them based on false accusations of animal cruelty.  Veterinarians who have spoken out against this behaviour have also suffered from the RSPCA spreading false accusations regarding their standards of animal care.  Business have been decimated through this belligerent behaviour.

My two guests, who both own pet stores, join us to share their experiences with the RSPCA.  Their stories are confronting.  

'Shell' and Nicole’s stories are extraordinary and not what we expect of a charity that is supposed to champion care and respect for animals.  This unconscionable conduct is exploiting its charitable and tax-free status to create a multi-million dollar business.  Its strong-arm approach is clearly outside of acceptable conduct under both the Acts.  

The RSPCA have become a law unto themselves, issuing warrants based on lies, not going through due process to investigate before seizing animals, extorting money out of people for housing their stolen animals and then annihilating local private businesses through negative media and malicious lies.  It’s quite a rap sheet for the warm and fuzzy RSPCA we all grew up with.

This belligerent and intimidatory behaviour must stop.  Their exploitation business model must be stopped.

I am calling for the RSPCA to be de-registered as a charity.  I urge everyone to take your complaints to the ACCC and to the Charities and Not-for-Profit Commission for investigation.  Everyone who donates to the RSPCA, think again.  Any RSPCA employees, past or present, are invited to call my office and share their stories.

This behaviour has gone under the radar for too long.  We need to bring the RSPCA back to the animal welfare organisation it is supposed to be.

 

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