RSPCA: Time to Hold Itself Accountable

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) has recently taken legal action against West Ham United’s Kurt Zouma and his brother Yoan for the mistreatment of a cat, sparking a broader debate about the organization’s true commitment to animal welfare. While the RSPCA condemns such acts of cruelty, its own practices reveal a more complex and arguably contradictory stance on animal exploitation. The RSPCA Assured label, which promotes “higher welfare” animal products, allows consumers to feel morally justified in their dietary choices, despite the continued commoditization of animals. Critics argue that this scheme monetizes animal welfare and perpetuates exploitation, raising important questions about the RSPCA’s role in the ethical treatment of animals. This article delves into the need for the RSPCA to hold itself accountable and reevaluate its policies to truly advocate for animal rights

The ⁤Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) has recently⁢ initiated legal proceedings against West​ Ham United’s Kurt Zouma for the mistreatment of his cat, and‌ his brother Yoan, a player for Dagenham and Redbridge, for recording the incident. The actions of‌ the Zoumas are undeniably reprehensible, inflicting harm on a defenseless animal ⁤without any justification. However, ‌this incident raises a broader question about ‍the RSPCA’s stance on animal welfare and its own practices.

While the RSPCA condemns the unnecessary suffering imposed on Zouma’s cat, the organization’s broader policies reveal a complex and, some would⁢ argue, contradictory position ⁤on animal exploitation. The RSPCA does not advocate for veganism as a moral imperative; instead, it has found a lucrative niche in promoting “higher ‍welfare” animal⁢ products ‍through its “RSPCA Assured” label. This label reassures⁣ consumers ⁣that the meat and animal products they purchase come from farms that⁤ adhere to the RSPCA’s welfare⁢ standards, thus ⁤allowing consumers to ‌feel morally justified in their continued consumption of animal products.

The RSPCA Assured scheme is marketed as a guarantee that animals are reared, transported, and slaughtered according to higher welfare standards, covering every aspect of the animals’ lives. ⁤However, this assurance comes at a cost: producers pay a membership‌ and license fee to use the RSPCA logo, effectively monetizing animal welfare. Critics argue that this ​scheme does not ⁣eliminate animal suffering but rather makes it more palatable to the public, ‍allowing the RSPCA⁤ to profit from the very​ exploitation it⁤ claims to oppose.

Despite the RSPCA’s assertion that it does⁤ not promote the consumption of animal products, its actions suggest otherwise. By ‍endorsing “higher welfare” animal products, the organization​ indirectly supports the commoditization of animals, making it easier for⁣ consumers to justify their dietary choices. This approach ⁣has been criticized for perpetuating the exploitation of animals rather than ⁤challenging the fundamental ethics of⁢ animal consumption.

The‍ case ‌of the Zoumas, much like the notorious case of Michael Vick and his involvement in dogfighting, highlights ⁢the inconsistency ​in ​societal attitudes towards ⁣different forms of animal ‍cruelty. The RSPCA’s selective condemnation of certain acts of cruelty while profiting from others raises important questions about its true ‌commitment to animal welfare. This‌ article explores the need for the RSPCA to hold⁣ itself accountable and reconsider ​its role in⁢ perpetuating​ animal exploitation.

RSPCA: Time to Hold Itself Accountable July 2024

The RSPCA is starting the process of prosecuting West Ham United’s Kurt Zouma for slapping and kicking his cat, and his brother, Yoan, who plays for Dagenham and Redbridge, for filming the incident.

What the Zoumas did was clearly wrong. They inflicted harm on the cat without any justification; the cat was not threatening them in any way and, therefore, their harming the cat constituted imposing unnecessary suffering on the cat. That is wrong.

But wait. Does the RSPCA take the position that all unnecessary harm imposed on animals is wrong? Nope. Not by a long shot. The RSPCA not only does not promote veganism as a moral imperative; the RSPCA promotes animal exploitation. The RSPCA makes money from promoting animal exploitation.

Some years ago, the RSPCA figured out that it could generate money by licensing a label — Freedom Food — for supposedly “higher welfare” animal products that would help to make humans more comfortable about continuing to exploit nonhumans.

RSPCA: Time to Hold Itself Accountable July 2024

The RSPCA “happy exploitation” label now has “RSPCA” in its title. It’s called RSPCA Assured.”

RSPCA: Time to Hold Itself Accountable July 2024
(source: https://www.rspcaassured.org.uk/about-us/)

The scheme is intended to assure consumers that the meat and animal products they buy “came from higher welfare farms.” Animal products with this RSPCA stamp of approval are now available in many chain stores in the U.K. Humans can continue to consume animals and animal products with confidence that it is all okay:

The RSPCA standards have been developed to ensure that all animals are reared, transported and slaughtered according to our higher welfare ideals and have everything required for a better quality of life. Whether they are kept on large or small farms, indoors or free-range, our standards ensure that every aspect of the life of the animal is covered from birth right through to slaughter, including their feed and water requirements, the environment in which they live, how they are handled, their healthcare and how they are transported and slaughtered. (source: https://www.rspcaassured.org.uk/about-us/rspca-welfare-standards/)

Yes, the consumer may now rest assured — RSPCA Assured — that “every aspect of the life of the animal,” including transportation to the slaughterhouse and slaughter — are approved of by the RSPCA. Those who participate in the scheme just need to pay the RSPCA “a membership fee and a licence fee to use the logo.” And they can then slap the RSPCA stamp of approval on their products of death.

RSPCA: Time to Hold Itself Accountable July 2024
“I can choose to buy this more expensive dead animal and feel better about myself — God bless the RSPCA. I think I will make a donation.” (source: https://www.rspcaassured.org.uk/)

Putting aside that RSPCA “happy farms” have been exposed as no better than the hell holes that haven’t paid the RSPCA to use its label, there can be no doubt that the RSPCA Assured scheme promotes animal exploitation and that is exactly what it is intended to do: make humans feel more comfortable about continuing to exploit animals. Quite remarkably, but completely expectedly, the RSPCA denies this:

We don’t promote eating animal products. Our primary mission is always to promote animal welfare and to raise the standards by which animals are reared, transported and slaughtered. We do this by informing the public, so they can make choices knowing where their food has come from. (source: https://www.rspcaassured.org.uk/frequently-asked-questions/)

As an advocate for animal rights, I am reluctant to denigrate bovines and label that answer as “bullshit,” but it is, of course, nothing more. The RSPCA should be educating people about not consuming animal products at all. They should be using their huge amounts of money to make clear that we do not need to eat animal products to be healthy. Indeed, an increasing number of mainstream health professionals are telling us that animal products are detrimental to human health. In any event, animal products certainly aren’t necessary. If the RSPCA really cared about animals, they’d be out there trying to convince people that they should not be inflicting unnecessary harm on animals by continuing to participate in institutionalized animal exploitation. Instead, the RSPCA has become the Royal Society for the Perpetuation of the Commoditization of Animals.

What is the difference between someone who chooses to eat animal products for no better reason than that they taste good, and a guy who kicks a cat for fun? There is no morally relevant difference (except, in this case, the guy who kicked the cat did not kill the cat).

Let’s be crystal clear here: the most “humanely” treated animal under the RSPCA Assured scheme suffers a great deal more than the cat Kurt Zouma kicked, and, unlike the cat, is killed. And all of this suffering — whether of the animals under the RSPCA scheme or Zouma’s cat — is completely unnecessary

The case of the Zoumas is reminiscent of the case of Michael Vick, a Black American football player who was involved in a dogfighting operation, and the case of Andre Robinson, a Black man from New York who also kicked a cat. It is not, I fear, coincidental, that a number of these high visibility cases involve people of color. One need only look at the social media discussion of these cases to see that many people hold the racist view that people of color and minorities are particularly egregious “animal abusers.” On the other hand, the RSPCA had a real field day with Mary Bale, a White woman from Coventry. Bale caused a cat to be confined in a trash can for several hours. Like Zouma, she did not kill the cat. But the RSPCA prosecuted her despite that, at the very same time, they were encouraging people to continue consuming animal products — as long as they had a stamp of approval from the RSPCA.

I put this comment on the RSPCA Facebook page:

RSPCA: Time to Hold Itself Accountable July 2024

I have been blocked by the RSPCA Twitter page but as of now, my comment is still on their Facebook page. Maybe they will think about my comment and bring a prosecution of the RSPCA.

Notice: This content was initially published on AbolitionistApproach.com and may not necessarily reflect the views of the Humane Foundation.

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