The RSPCA has denied claims by one of its former inspectors that it kills more healthy animals than necessary. More than 3,400 animals were put down last year for non-medical reasons, the organisation said yesterday.
This figure was made up of 1,676 dogs and cats which were put to sleep for legal reasons, or because they might suffer for other reasons, and 1,767 wild animals, exotics or farm animals, the charity said. The total number of animals "euthanased" in 2011 was 53,183. The other 49,740 were put to sleep for medical reasons.
The Mail on Sunday quoted Dawn Aubrey-Ward, a former inspector for the RSPCA, as saying large numbers of animals, particularly dogs, were put to sleep after being classed "unsuitable for rehoming", a definition which could be widely drawn to include older animals, those needing veterinary care, dogs deemed "aggressive" or larger dogs which were "hard to home". A spokeswoman for the charity said: "Animal cruelty, neglect and suffering are at unprecedented levels. We rehome thousands of animals, but the number of people rehoming animals does not keep up with irresponsible owners.
"It is simply not true that the RSPCA 'routinely' puts down healthy animals. We do need to put animals to sleep when it is in their interests. Nobody who works for the RSPCA wants to have to put rehomeable animals to sleep, but it is a sad reality of the work that we do.
"Although the trend is in decline, the RSPCA sometimes has to put some rehomeable animals to sleep simply because they cannot be found good homes. While there continues to be too many animals being bred, and we continue to take in more animals than there are willing rehomers, we will continue to have this dilemma."