The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), once one of the most respected charities in Britain, has plummeted in poll of charity brands after concerns of infiltration by radical animal rights activists.
According to the annual Charity Brand Index, published in Third Sector magazine, the animal welfare charity fell from fourth place to 17th in the space of a year. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) has also fallen 10 places to 41st after being embroiled in political rows about birds of prey.
People who have recently been elected to the RSPCA’s ruling council include a radical vegan who compared farming to the Holocaust, and an academic whose think tank looked into the representation of animals in Parliament.
Another member of the council wants to tackle “companion animal over-population”.
The Times reports that the charity’s membership subscriptions have been falling, and that fewer pets have been rescued while it pursued high-profile court cases against fox hunts. It was also one of the charities involved in a scandal over “aggressive” fund raising and sharing potential donors’ details, although it insists it acted lawfully.
Simon Hart, a Conservative MP who was formerly head of the Countryside Alliance, said: “It would appear to a lot of people that the RSPCA has gone from being a legitimate, hard-working charity that delivered positive results on the ground to an organisation that’s more interested in making political capital.”
Meanwhile Friends of the Earth, which has been involved in high-profile anti-fracking campaigns and called for Britain to stay in the European Union, has also fallen 44 places to 112th.
The survey asked 4,000 British adults their views of various charities. They were asked which they were most aware of, which they were most likely to give money too and whether they cared about their causes. Macmillan Cancer Support took the top spot, while Cancer Research UK came second with BBC Children in Need placing third.
The RSPCA commented: “We rely on public support and strive to earn trust while doing an extremely difficult job that involves prosecuting people for cruelty so we are never going to be able to please everyone all the time. We were proud to be fourth last year and hope to be able to regain that status again soon.”