RSPCA: Saving a hamster costs £1,400
Now how is that for an opening calculated to make one enemies? You have heard of $25,000 toilet seats for spacecraft, but did you know that for each animal the RSPCA saves, the average cost is about £1,400? That's $2,280 to the colonials across the pond. Where does the money go? To the pharmaceutical companies, lawyers, staff salaries and to other interesting expenses which we shall discuss here anon.
My curiosity was aroused a few months ago by a TV advertisement in which someone from the RSPCA, dressed in what looked to me like an admiral’s uniform, told us proudly that the RSPCA had managed to save the lives of five distressed horses, apparently with great difficulty. BUT, the admiral said, the cost had been £300,000 and so he was asking us, the viewers, to send funds to help the RSPCA repeat the experiment on other deserving creatures. Imagine how sick those poor animals must have been, to cost £60,000 each to bring back to health from death’s door. One can only imagine that the pharmaceutical companies and the vets involved had a wonderful Christmas that year. Why did they not put the animals to sleep and save them from all that misery?
If the idea of animal euthanasia shocks you, please note that last week we learned from the news media that over 9,000 perfectly healthy horses were put to death last year and another lot of 5,600 this year, again perfectly healthy thoroughbred horses passed through UK and Irish licensed horse abattoirs because their owners could no longer afford to keep them. And though everyone agrees that this is a sad state of affairs, no one goes beyond the expression of sympathy to suggest that a way be found to keep the horses alive. Their meat was either exported for human consumption, or was used in pet foods. Just so you know, one abattoir is said to process about 3,000 horses a year, every year.
Naturally, with so many abattoirs for horses available ready and able to provide humane euthanasia to unwanted animals and so many vets able to do the same with a hopefully inexpensive injection, why spend £60,000 on each of the poor horses in order to put them through what must have been a painful process of healing, when there are so many children in need who could have put those £60,000 smackers to good use?
Animal lovers give their money to the RSPCA and leave it legacies, sometimes depriving their own children of substantial sums, believing that their money will alleviate animal pain and will contribute to the humane treatment of animals, believing the advertisements they are inundated with. But is their trust in the RSPCA justified and would they do it if they knew where most of their money really went to?
I have visited the RSPCA web site and everywhere one looks, the RSPCA is asking for money. I typed “Audited Accounts” in their search engine and the resulting document should be essential reading for everyone thinking of contributing money to the RSPCA.
Simply put, they collect on average about 145,000 animals per year and they have expenses amounting to £124,152,000 (2008 accounts). That is One Hundred and Twenty Four MILLION pounds and some change. Where is this money spent? According to their own breakdown:
Governance (sic) costs £1,264,000
Freedom Food £2,434,000
Education & International £4,835,000
National Control Centre £7,049,000
Campaigning, Media and Science £8,570,000
Support to branches £8,422,000
Cost of generating funds £22,519,000
Animal establishments £25,005,000
I admit to being somewhat confused by the way this breakdown is presented, because I am just a poor peasant from the Midlands, but as ignorant as I am, I get suspicious when accountants become poetic (the Auditors fee is £81,000 by the way). Further down the auditors do not refer to cold and heartless expenses, but the heading of their expenses list is
“Charitable activities to further animal welfare:”
“Total direct costs of furthering animal welfare:”
Surely the exclusive function of the RSPCA is to further animal welfare, so why use these headings when describing the expenses? The expenses could not possibly be for any other purpose and could not possibly include trips abroad for a chosen few staying in five star hotels. Could they?
Anyway, the essence is this: The RSPCA takes in about 145,000 animals per year at a cost of £124,152,000. This means that every animal they collect (not save) costs about £850. Just think about this for a moment.
Oh, and by the way, if you think that the RSPCA does not condone euthanasia, according to the annual Trustees Report 60,203 miscellaneous creatures were put to death in 2008 by the RSPCA (66,489 in 2007).
“These figures include animals destroyed for medical reasons and other humane destructions. Other destructions of healthy animals only occur with great reluctance when there is no reasonable possibility of rehoming. The Society is opposed to long-term confinement of animals which cannot be rehomed as this can cause distress and suffering to the animals concerned.”
Now if out of 145,000 animals collected, 60,000 were euthanized, then only 85,000 animals left were actually saved. Therefore, £124,152,000 divided by 85,000 animals saved, equals £1460. Let’s be generous and say that euthanasia for a hamster costs £60, that leaves an actual true cost per animal saved of £1,400.
You will be pleased to hear that donated income last year increased by £1.1m to £36 million. However, according to the audited accounts, the cost of collecting these donations was £22.5 million pounds.
You will also be pleased to hear that no remuneration is paid to the chairman of Council or other Council members. However, reasonable expenses such as travel, subsistence, telephone, postage and incidentals are reimbursed and in 2008 they amounted to a total of £139,314. So we are asked to contribute to the support of the RSPCA, but the Council members want to be reimbursed for telephone calls? Why do they not consider that part of their own contribution to animal welfare I wonder?
Finally, you will again be pleased to learn that your money helps to support over 1,500 employees of the RSPCA, nine of them averaging about £65,000 per year, four of them £75,000, two £85,000 and two £100,000. That’s a lot of cat litter.
In my opinion, if you want to help animals, please give financial support to your local kennels, the small ones that are operated only by volunteers.
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