A LEADING animal welfare charity has been accused of hounding elderly pet owners in Britain.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is “targeting vulnerable, ill and elderly” people and removing their pets, a leading parliamentary committee has reported.
The powerful House of Commons select committee said in a report the RSPCA should now be stripped of its powers to prosecute cases of animal cruelty.
The MPs on an influential House of Commons select committee said that the RSPCA’s hounding of pet owners over animal cruelty had “damaged its reputation”.
But the charity said it would continue prosecuting cases of cruelty – putting it on a collision course with Parliament and ministers, if they agree with the committee’s findings.
Senior a former Conservative government law officer threatened to back a law to strip the RSPCA of its right to prosecute cases of animal cruelty.
Sir Edward Garnier, a former Conservative Solicitor general, said: “It would be much safer if we have a clean break and put the prosecutions in the hands of the CPS, rather than in the RSPCA.
“If it requires legislation then the government should introduce the legislation as soon as possible.”
The RSPCA is already under fire for being so badly governed it is damaging public confidence, according to a report by the Charity Commission.
The report came after the sudden departure of chief executive Jeremy Cooper who is understood to have clashed with more militant members of the charity’s 25-strong governing council over his more softly-softly approach.
The RSPCA is one of the world’s oldest animal welfare charities and has also been heavily criticised for the way it has investigated and prosecuted cases of animal cruelty and fox hunting.
The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee said there was a “conflict of interest” in the charity’s role in bringing forward private prosecutions as well as investigating cases, campaigning and fundraising.
The committee called on ministers to change the law so that the RSPCA would continue to investigate animal welfare cases but then pass their findings to the Crown Prosecution Service or another body to carry out this role.