A stench of hypocrisy.

An emailer sends us these two letters from the Telegraph with the comment:

"Am I getting senile? I dont remember the RSPCA making a big fuss about FMD, do you?
I dont recall any prosecution for cruelty to killing of healthy stock..."

Re: Stench of hypocrisy
Date: 25 August 2002
Macer Hall ("RSPCA battles to save seal pups hit by outbreak of deadly virus", News, August 18) may have detected the odour of fish and disinfectant on his recent visit to the RSPCA's East Winch animal hospital, but it cannot have been as strong as the stench of hypocrisy being given off by an organisation that was virtually silent during the foot and mouth culling.

A more cynical man than I might wonder if the RSPCA is more keen on cute money-raising activities than in actual animal welfare.

James G T Bloomer, Kirkby Lonsdale, Cumbria

Re: Work went unreported
Date: 1 September 2002
In response to James G Bloomer's letter (Aug 25), I would like to make a number of corrections.

The RSPCA was not virtually silent during the foot and mouth outbreak; on the contrary a quarter of our inspectors, ie 80, were taken off normal duty to assist the hardest-hit farmers. Also, the society set up a brokerage scheme to match need with supply of feed, shelter, bedding and other supplies and services.

During the lambing season, when it became clear that thousands of ewes were lambing in appalling conditions due to movement restrictions in the eastern counties of England, RSPCA staff lambed 3,000 ewes and helped bring more than 5,000 lambs into the world.

We helped in the organisation and provision of lambing marquees, feed, shelter and manpower to farmers in crisis. The society assisted with the euthanasia of about 1,300 ewes to prevent further suffering.

The fact that much of the work we were doing went unreported does not mean that we were not working around the clock to alleviate the suffering of animals and helping farmers where we could.

Alongside this hands-on help, we raised concerns to the Government about some of the slaughter methods and sent inspectors to monitor the slaughter of sheep at the mass site in Cumbria.

The RSPCA investigated many incidents of alleged inhumane slaughter and has continued to protest to government about the slaughter of healthy animals with no proven link to the disease.

It is also worth noting that the RSPCA's East Winch animal hospital was set up as a result of the last seal distemper virus back in 1988 over 12 years before the foot and mouth outbreak of 2001.

John Rolls, Director of Communications, RSPCA, Horsham, Sussex