It is a mission statement with which only the stoniest of hearts could disagree.
‘Every animal that comes into our care deserves a loving forever home,’ the RSPCA says on its website.
But The Mail on Sunday can reveal that the country’s largest animal charity last year provided new homes to just 44,611 creatures – barely a third of the 115,000 it rescued.
Put down: A family’s beloved cat
A family’s joy at getting a phone call from the RSPCA about their missing cat turned to horror when they were informed their beloved pet had been put down.
Sandra Hall’s ginger tom, Kitty, failed to come home on Friday August 1, 2016, after being let out for the evening.
Sandra and husband James desperately searched the area, put up posters and contacted the RSPCA.
‘Distraught’: Owner Sandra Hall with Kitty, who was put down by the RSPCA
On the Tuesday, the family, from Larkfield, Kent, were delighted to receive a phone call from the charity – only to be told Kitty had been put to sleep.
The RSPCA claimed there had been a problem because the Halls had adopted the cat from a neighbour nine years earlier but had not updated his microchip.
Mrs Hall said: ‘I was absolutely distraught. They can track mail but not a cat. They said I could have the dead body back.’
An RSPCA spokesman said at the time: ‘The cat sadly deteriorated and a vet made the decision to put it to sleep.
‘This is an extremely unfortunate situation.’
The figure – a sharp drop from the 70,000 it rehomed in 2009 – has reignited concerns that the RSPCA is too quick to euthanise animals entrusted to its care.
Last night the charity confirmed that 28.9 per cent of all the animals it rescued last year were put to sleep.
Anne Kasica, who runs the SHG, which represents those who have clashed with the RSPCA, said: ‘The huge gap between the number of animals rescued and the number rehomed raises serious concerns.
SHOT: 12 Arab horses
The Arab Horse Society criticised the RSPCA after 12 Arab horses were destroyed following a cruelty investigation in Lancashire.
A charity spokesman said: ‘This happened five years ago when we were overwhelmed by the number of abandoned and neglected horses in our care.’
‘It is difficult to understand why the RSPCA deems so many animals as unsuitable to rehome. In many cases whether or not an animal can be rehomed is subjective.’
The RSPCA insisted that ‘no healthy, rehomeable dogs, cats, rabbits or horses were put to sleep’ last year – but was unable to provide details of the fate of the 70,000 animals that could not be found homes.
Vet Martina Stuart, who has given evidence at cases brought by the RSPCA, said: ‘There is something not right with the RSPCA. They have lost sight of prevention of cruelty and are only interested in publicity, profiteering and prosecution.’
The RSPCA has previously admitted that it wrongly euthanised some animals.
DESTROYED: ‘Mr Pig’
The RSPCA promised to launch an internal inquiry after a Kunekune pig called ‘Mr Pig’ was taken away and destroyed without the owner’s consent.
Bob Skinner of Dorset said had been treating his 23-year-old pet for a mouth ulcer but was not ready to send him to the ‘sty in the sky’.
The RSCPA said Mr Pig had cancer and had to be put down.
In 2016, it was forced to apologise to a family whose cat it destroyed after neighbours raised concerns about its hair being too long.
The family said that the animal hated being groomed and its fur could only be trimmed under anaesthetic.
The RSPCA said the unhomed animals figure included lost pets that had been reunited with their owners, those that had been fostered and animals still in its care as part of ongoing legal cases.
It said of the 60,423 wild animals rescued or collected by the charity last year, 6,256 were returned to the wild, while 4,835 were dead when found or died soon afterwards.
A further 25,424 were taken to RSPCA wildlife centres and other organisations, while 23,908 were put to sleep where they were found.
An RSPCA spokesman said: ‘Euthanasia is always a last resort and only used to alleviate the suffering of an animal when there are no other options. We will always do whatever is possible to give that animal a second chance, through rehoming or release into the wild.’
CHARITY WARNED OVER CHIEF’S SIX-FIGURE PAYOUT
Departure: Former RSPCA chief executive Michael Ward
The RSPCA has been slapped with a humiliating official warning from the Charity Commission over a six-figure payout to a former chief executive.
Michael Ward was controversially paid a sum in excess of his £150,000 salary when he departed in May.
Following an investigation, the charities watchdog last week found that trustees at the RSPCA – whose patron is the Queen – had ‘failed to act with reasonable care and skill’ when negotiating the payoff.
It also noted an ‘unusually high turnover’ among its chief executives and concluded that the failings amounted to ‘mismanagement in the administration of the charity’.
Chris Sherwood, the RSPCA’s new chief executive, took up his post earlier this month.
He is the organisation’s fourth boss in just six years.
In a statement following the findings, the charity said: ‘The RSPCA ruling council is fully committed to the very highest standards of governance.’