Caroline Allen is our London veterinary director, successfully managing our veterinary provisions at two hospitals – Putney and Harmsworth – and two clinics – Edmonton and Southall.
Prior to joining us, Caroline worked at private practices for 18 years, as a veterinary surgeon and clinical director. Caroline is also a valued Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) Council member.
It takes police and vet involvement before we can take action
I’m delighted to have worked with the RSPCA team for two years now, and while it has been great, I’ve gone through a steep learning curve…
I was initially surprised to discover that while we can offer advice and encourage owners to improve the conditions their animals are kept in, but inspectors cannot actually seize animals. The police have to be involved and only when there is a strong suspicion of a law being broken will we investigate. This process will also involve a vet needing to give a statement to confirm that the animal is in fact suffering.
We provide support much more often than we prosecute
Some people assume that we’re all about prosecuting. In actuality, less than one percent of complaints which are investigated end in a prosecution as we like to offer support and advice wherever possible. Any prosecutions, of course, have to be very carefully considered to confirm if the evidence is strong enough and whether prosecuting is in the best public interest.
Our true remit is primarily focused on the rescue, rehabilitation and rehoming of cruelly-treated animals as well as vital preventative work.
Our national centre is separate from our branches
Although there are 157 RSPCA branches across the UK, each branch is actually a separately registered charity. Some of these branches run their own hospitals and clinics or have volunteer-run charity shops.
Branches are obviously a vital part of the organisation, but it’s easy to see how it can result in confusion if someone thinks they have spoken to the national RSPCA when actually they’ve been talking to a branch volunteer.
To report cruelty you must contact the national RSPCA and not your local branch.
We often make a contribution to vets
Vet contributions (known as IET) often go towards treating injured strays who have come into practices via the charity – picked up by an inspector or by a member of the public who’s called our National Control Centre (NCC).
We’re not always the first point of call for stray cats and dogs
Dogs are different in that they are the statutory responsibility of the local authority; whether healthy or injured. The dog warden is the point of contact for these animals and the Local Authority will need to give consent for any procedures beyond emergency treatment.
Healthy stray cats (who do not need emergency treatment) are not generally part of our remit and other charities would be more appropriate to contact.
I’m proud to be working for the RSPCA, providing essential animal care
Working with the RSPCA allows me to provide veterinary care to animals most in need. Sadly this means witnessing huge tragedy but also experiencing first-hand the amazing resilience of many animals.
I’ve realised that as a charity with limited resources, we can’t do everything by ourselves – but that the work that we can do is immensely valuable and in many ways the team do far more than I ever imagined.
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