Odious little thugs

A family accused of ill-treating their pet cat by allowing its hair to grow too long, have spoken of their relief after prosecutors stepped in and ordered the RSPCA to drop a criminal case against them.

Richard and Samantha Byrnes were threatened with prison after welfare inspectors from the charity seized their 16-year-old cat, Claude, and told them he would have to be put down immediately.

The family claimed overzealous staff even refused to delay the procedure for a few hours to allow their two children to say goodbye to the much loved family pet.

After Claude was put to sleep last May, the RSPCA launched a prosecution against Mr and Mrs Byrnes, from Tring in Hertfordshire, alleging animal cruelty.

It might have been rather a mistake to allow the RSPCA such powers, don’t you think? They being entirely judge and jury over the life of the animals of others?

After all, killing a cat because it needs grooming does strike as being just a little bit extreme, even possibly officious. Certainly, I’f have punched, if not worse, anyone who tried to do that to any of my animals.

27 thoughts on “Odious little thugs”

  1. According to the RSPCA guy on R4 this morning the cat was put down because he was very old, painfully thin and was suffering. Two vets, including the family’s own vet, confirmed this.

    The RSPCA had visited this cat a year earlier after complaints from neighbours.

    So the “killing a cat because needs some grooming” seems somewhat wide of the mark.

  2. Giving power without accountability to people utterly convinced of the righteousness of their cause and their own self-worth can only lead to them exercising that power without discretion or compassion, but rather with a gleeful and malicious vindictiveness towards those they consider to be in the wrong.

    It is truly frightening that in the UK, a private organisation can snatch somebody’s property and without any form of process, right of appeal, etc., simply put a pet down. It is probably a magnet for sociopaths who cannot make the police entry requirements.

  3. SE

    According to the RSPCA spokesman on R4. He could of course be making this up but it would be a pretty outrageous whopper and very easily disproven.

  4. Shinsei1967, since the autopsy revealed no problems with the animal, would you like to rethink your defence of these loathesome, power-mad little weasels?

  5. He could of course be making this up but it would be a pretty outrageous whopper and very easily disproven.

    Unfortunately, the RSPCA have evidence in this area – not just talking on the radio but in court. This is a one-day wonder – I’d be very surprised if anybody is going to follow up on this.

  6. Very old and painfully thin – OK, it happens in old people so can happen in cats presumably.
    Was suffering – yes, old age can add a whole load of pain as joints wear out, as problems crop up that don’t exist in younger people so much. Different for cats?
    16 is a good innings for a cat. Being forcibly taken off someone and put down…. now thats cruel however.

  7. IanB, quite right, I do apologise to the weasels.

    Mind you, reading Fahy’s comments in the ‘Guardian’ about how the police should have access to your confidential information against your wishes, so they can ‘protect you if you are vulnerable’, it won’t just be your cat the state steals & has put down – it’ll be your grannie!

  8. The RSPCA can freely tell whoppers, if whopper it is, and I certainly don’t have any faith in its integrity, because there will be those who repeat it as fact, thereby drawing the sting from a story that is bad publicity whereas in the unlikely event of them being called on it, they’ll simply claim a misunderstanding by the spokesperson.

  9. According to the RSPCA (who may or may not be lying) two vets, including the cat’s usual vet, said that the animal was in pain & suffering. They both said that putting the cat down was the most humane course of action.

    If this was your cat what would you want to be done ?

  10. Shinsei, I’d want to make the decision myself. I (and the family) recently did with our beloved elderly struggling Spaniel. It is a very tough decision as to whether to put them to sleep or to wait and see, and it is not always obvious that they are suffering.

    But actually it’s irrelevant.

    The problem is the RSPCA (who have extensive history of political actions and bullying) have the right to act as judge, jury and executioner. If they could bring an accelerated case to a magistrate I would have no issue with that.

    It really doesn’t matter what agony the cat was in ; the RSPCA should be subject to some form of control and not be able to play God.

  11. @JuliaM

    If wonder if ‘Fahy’ will be so keen on this in a few years’ time when the NHS Freedom from Suffering* team come for him with the lethal injection?

    *FKA NHS Assisted Suicide Scheme, FKA Liverpool Care Pathway (informal name amongst GPs ‘Clearabed Scheme’)

  12. Cats don’t need grooming. The fact that the cat was in such a poor state was an indication of an underlying problem. I’m not supporting the RSPCA decision I am simply pointing out that the cat wasn’t put down because the owners failed to “groom” it.

  13. When the Great Wise-One accidentally ran over one of our cats we were quite surprised at how quickly he overcame the pain. Despite having the hip removed seem quite perky the next day. The vet reckoned that cats don’t feel pain and suffering the way humans do.

    I wonder if we are too quick to apply our own sensitivities to animals? In the past we have had old cats who have just walked in to the garden OK and seem to have decided it was time, curled up and died. Perhaps this cat was the same and it wasn’t suffering and would have chosen its own time?

  14. Paul – we have had cats put down due to suffering, its never easy – like with your dog its a hard decision.
    Having that decision taken off you….. I’d fight to keep the decision ours rather than RSPCAs.
    Our vet is brilliant, the times he has suggested putting a cat down he’s asked if we want to go away and think about it for the weekend – one time we did, one time we did not.

  15. @Mike Power: I’m surprised that you say cats don’t need grooming: one of our long-haired cats certainly needed a helping hand to avoid some unpleasant matts developing.

    As for their tolerance of pain, our elderly cat showed the usual impeccable timing in needing an expensive out-of-hours emergency vet visit at the weekend. A shot of methadone (yes, methadone!) to let him have a good night’s sleep and he seems right as rain today.

  16. bloke (not) in spain

    “The vet reckoned that cats don’t feel pain and suffering the way humans do.”
    Do be honest, humans don’t feel pain & suffering the way humans do.
    Humans intellectualise, so they anticipate pain, fear pain, remember pain, quantise & qualitise pain. So a great deal of the experience happens in the mind. That can be very different from the event, itself. If you’ve had the unfortunate opportunity, think back & compare say dental work with serious accidental trauma.
    Animals live almost entirely in the moment without the intellectual overburden.

  17. The issue here is not, so much, that the cat was put down… but rather than the RSPCA then attempted to bring a criminal case against the owners.

    If you and the RSPCA have a difference of opinion as to whether a loved pet should be kept alive then that shouldn’t really make you a criminal.

  18. It is the age old cop problem. Yes, there are bad people–who in this context ill-treat animals. But having a bunch of costumed thugs given power on the job will always lead to abuse as arrogance sets in and tin-god type psychopaths fill their ranks. (The RSPCA are a “private” organisation but I believe some bullshit act has given them these powers and thus they can call on the bluebottles for back up if you deck them).

    Perhaps we need an animal version of this:



    Sorry for shouting, but this needs shouting. The RSPCA “officers” are private persons in fancy dress with made-up prenominal titles. Their rights to seize animals, enter private property, conduct searches, question witnesses and so on are exactly the same as those of you and me.

    i.e. – in strictly legal terms, almost zero. They can do these things only because people fall for their deceit that they have some kind of official power.

    Even if they turn up with warrant-armed cops, you only ever have to let the cops in.

    Just remember if they ever harass you – they are funny little people going around in funny little uniforms with funny job titles, none of which actually means anything. It is all an act to make people think they are “official”. They are ultimately just people who like going around in fancy dress.

  20. Bloke in Costa Rica

    It’s far too safe being a bureaucrat. Actions devoid of consequences: my one-stop diagnosis of the ills of the modern world.

  21. BiG, spot on.
    My wife and I got a cat – Tabby Point Siamese – soon after we married. One day while in heat she staged a spectacular breakout (opening 2 closed doors, wriggling through a window) and mated with every male in the neighbourhood. Had 4 kittens, all different, all went on to great things. When our kids turned up, she treated them as kittens. And in most photos of them as they grew up you can find her sitting watching over them. When she was 19 she began to fade – kidney problems and eventually lost her mobility. But she kept purring when we stroked her. Until the last three days when she concentrated on dying.
    All my family have weapons training. If an RSPCA bot had tried to take her, he’d have lost his kneecaps. Minimum.

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