Monday, 4 August 2014

Charitable Conceptions.

This blog post was written by me in October 2012. It's rather long. Please excuse the language! Obviously, I trying to prove a point. I am re-posting this because I feel the need to make that point again for a variety of reasons. I am no longer employed by the RSPCA (not as a result of this post), but they still have my support concerning all of their policies. If I was to ever return to veterinary nursing, I would be proud to return to working for them. All opinions are my own and all that!

My eldest cat Maisy
I have decided to write this post as lately it is becoming more and more apparent, of the general public's hatred of the RSPCA. I've noticed comments on Facebook and Twitter ranging from mild irritation and other 'professionals' slating the RSPCA, to active hate campaigns against us. I say us, because I am an employee of the RSPCA. Yes I work for what seems to be the most hated and controversial charity in the UK. (Although, currently I'm on maternity leave, and after this blog I may be relieved of my duties, but hey ho.) I can't bite my tongue forever.
Before I go on any further, let's just make it clear, these are my personal views, and not those of my employer! I am using this, as a place to vent my frustration at the hatred for me and my colleagues/friends. I'm sure there may be repercussions from this, lets hope that's not my P45!
Ok, so I'm a veterinary nurse, I have been for 16 years, and up until 4 years ago I had always worked in private veterinary practice. I had no experience of working in charity practice, but I did have very strong opinions on veterinary/animal charities.
I'll be the first to admit that I, like a significant number of my colleagues in the veterinary profession, thought that the RSPCA were obstructive, weren't keen to help, and basically just raked in the money that kind little old ladies gave them and occasionally did a bit of work when the cameras were rolling. I also believed, like (I think I can safely say the majority of the general public) believed; that all stray animals and wildlife were the 'responsibility' of the RSPCA. In fact in my early years of nursing, I heard my head  nurse actually tell a member of the public, that an injured 'stray' cat could not be treated by our private practice, as we were a business not a charity and that cat was the RSPCA's responsibility. I had little experience to base my ignorant, obnoxious opinions on, other than that of my colleagues, so I guess I was just jumping on the bandwagon. Now I know how wrong I was!

A rather x-rated pic of Simba

About 4 years ago, I decided to have a change of direction from veterinary nursing and try something different. Then I found myself out of work, after suddenly walking out of a job that I hated. It appears there is a reason I chose to work with animals rather than people after all!
I soon had a scout through my veterinary journals to see who needed a nurse. The RSPCA were advertising so I applied, I didn't think I'd ever apply to work there but I was desperate for a job and it was close to home. I also applied for another 3 veterinary nursing jobs, hopeful I'd get one of those so I wouldn't have to work for that dreaded charity!
After all the interviews, I was offered all 4 of the jobs I had applied for, so I was in a great position, however I decided to take the job that offered the least pay, the worst hours and the one I that knew would offer the hardest most challenging work. Yep, I was going to work for the RSPCA. My other nursing friends thought I was mad, they like me, all hated the RSPCA! All I can say is just walking around the hospital at the time of my interview was enough to completely change my viewpoint of the work the RSPCA do. I was converted. And I can honestly say I will never, ever go back to work in private veterinary practice again. I think I can safely say that for a high percentage of the other professionals I work with at the hospital too.

Lola rehomed by me from the RSPCA
So why is it that the public hate us? Why is it other veterinary professionals slate us? Everyone seems to forget that the RSPCA is a charity. Here is the Oxford English Dictionary's definition of a charity:
'' organization set up to provide help and raise money for those in need''
So there you go, we provide help to animals in need and in order for us to do that we raise money. We try to help, we do our best to help every animal we possibly can, but no, unfortunately that will not be every single animal. That does not mean we can save every single animal and it does mean that we make tough decisions that others may disagree with. This does not mean, therefore we are responsible for and can help every single animal. When are owners, the general public, the government and other veterinary professionals going to take their share of the responsibility for these animals we share the planet with?
The RSPCA doesn't not secure government funding, despite people thinking otherwise and the reason for this is so that they can be independent and challenge animal welfare issues if they disagree with the government's stance on such issues.
So yes it is a charity. The RSPCA is the only UK charity that people openly slate/diss/slag off, call it what you will. Take Cancer Research for example, say if your relative falls ill with a particular type of cancer and there is not enough research into that type of cancer to know if they'll be cured. Does that mean Cancer Research is at fault for not 'researching' enough as they strive to do? No of course it does not, because they are doing their best with the funds they receive. As are the RSPCA, they are doing what they can with the resources they can. Ok, so that might not be the best comparison, but I really do think people are losing sight of a charity can and cannot do.
To put you in the picture of my inspiration for this rant, here are some direct quotes from former colleagues or their friends from Facebook. Please bear in mind they are saying this in their professional capacity as veterinary nurses:
'Don't bother with the RSPCA, they're all bunch of c*nts, will probably put the cat to sleep anyway. Better off treating it ourselves, but though we'll have to pay for it even though it's their responsibility.F*cking useless b*stards'
This quote was from a veterinary nurse to another veterinary nurse regarding the treatment of a stray cat. Great professionalism, don't you think?
Here is another from a veterinary nurse:
'F*cking RSPCA, wont take a stray cat from us, reckon they are full, more like no camera's there!!! We are a business, not a charity you know! Bet it takes them forever to pay our £60 too. If only they'd do their job properly'
This comment relates to a nurse wanting a stray cat transported from her private hospital to the local RSPCA hospital. It also mentions the £60 that the RSPCA pay private vets towards the treatment of stray animals. This nurse was actually a friend of mine and refers to the hospital that I work at. Needless to say she was soon deleted from my friends list. And yes, we were full. Full to the fucking brim. In fact 9 times out of 10 the hospital is full, especially where cats are concerned. We never turn away a stray animal in need of treatment without a very very good reason.
Ok, so now this is where this blog gets a bit boring, it relates to veterinary professionalism, or the lack of it, there are quite a few quotes, so I am sorry if it gets a bit boring, but it's relevant to my point! Trust me.
Something worth mentioning is that Registered Veterinary Nurses are governed by The RCVS (The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.) We have to abide by their Code to Professional Conduct. Here's a quote from that code:
Section E. Relationships with Colleagues Point 10:
'No Veterinary Surgeon/Nurse should speak or write disparagingly of a colleague to a third party, since the effect is to undermine public confidence in the profession.''
I rest my case. I decided not to report these incidents to The RCVS or their employers as I do not want to be responsible for any loss of employment, I'm sure their words will one day come back to bite them on the arse anyway!
Ok so I know I am quoting a lot and this may be getting boring, but its relevant. Bear with me. It's about the responsibility of ill and injured  animals. This includes all animals not just those that are known to be owned. And it applies to ALL veterinary surgeons:
Taken from the Code to Professional Conduct for Veterinary Surgeons, Section 1-Veterinary Surgeons and Animals.
''Veterinary surgeons must make animal health and welfare their first consideration when attending to animals.''
''If the owner cannot afford private treatment and may be eligible for charitable assistance, veterinary surgeons should re-direct the animal for further treatment to a charity, where possible, supplying full details of the case in the proper manner.''
''Once an animal has been accepted as an in-patient for treatment by a veterinary surgeon, responsibility for the animal remains with that veterinary surgeon until another veterinary surgeon or practice accepts the responsibility.''
''A veterinary surgeon on call should not unreasonably refuse to provide first aid and pain relief for any animal of a species treated by the practice during normal working hours. A veterinary surgeon on call should not unreasonably refuse to provide first aid and facilitate the provision of pain relief for all other species until such time as a more appropriate emergency veterinary service accepts responsibility for the animal.''
The final quote is an oath of declaration to be admitted into the profession:
" I PROMISE AND SOLEMNLY DECLARE that I will pursue the work of my profession with integrity and accept my responsibilities to the public, my clients, the profession and the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, and that, ABOVE ALL, my constant endeavour will be to ensure the health and welfare of animals committed to my care''
Unfortunately, unlike some other veterinary professionals I am not going to comment on specific breaches of these codes of conduct that I have seen, but trust me I've seen them, and to a disgusting level.
So, to members of the public who are slating the RSPCA, remember, they are a charity. Doing their best with limited resources in this economic climate. Yes you may have called about your neighbours dog barking, and its being a few hours and no officer has called, but that officer might be working a huge radius on his own with 2-3 emergency calls with severely injured animals, it's all about priorities.
To veterinary professionals who think we are responsible for every animal both wild or stray or for some reason cannot pay your fees, please remember your oath. Remember  your professionalism. Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites are not the place to voice your issues with the RSPCA. I guarantee you if you were to work with us for a day your opinion on our work and our workload would change dramatically! This I can promise you.

Percy, came in to the RSPCA Hospital as a stray, following being hit by a car with horrific consequences. Resulted in him having his back leg amputated. Rehomed to me!

Yes, we are different to other charities as we are the only charity that investigates cruelty and prosecutes those who cause unnecessary suffering, so yes, we do have more responsibility than most, and trust me, we know! It impacts on our workload. But remember we're not the only ones who are responsible for animal welfare. We all are, members of the public, pet owners, farmers, breeders, veterinary practices and the government. Please remember that. The onus is not just on us!
I wish those of you that have such a low opinion of us could spend a day working with us, to see what we deal with, the horrific sights we see, the biting of the tongue we have to do, the red tape involved, the limited resources we have available and to see what you would do differently, if you were put in charge of making such emotive decisions. Yes mistakes are made as with everything in life, but people, everyone, needs to take responsibility for our planet's animals. Maybe if everyone did this, things would be a lot different. Do not be fooled into this bullshit that Britain is a nation of animal lovers. It's not at all, not by any stretch of the imagination. I am sure that a large amount of the hate comments come from lack of awareness and ignorance of what we do. I was one of those ignorant people myself once.
What I can tell you about the veterinary side of the RSPCA is that they have the best, most dedicated veterinary surgeons and nurses, you could ever meet. The standards of surgery, medicine, nursing and care are the highest I have seen in 16 years of nursing. Perhaps you think I'm being biased? Yep, but it's also the truth. Especially the nursing, the best in the country without a doubt! Based on the national average, we earn less than other veterinary professionals, we are truly doing it for the love of the job, and for the love of animals. We work hard too, extremely hard, the job is physically, mentally and emotionally draining. Some of the things I have seen, I wish I could un-see. They are horrific. We all cry at times, ever the old hard-hearted ones, such as me. (not very often mind)
This blog isn't written as a professional piece of writing (just in case any veterinary professionals are reading this) its out of exasperation of the continuous slagging off of the place I work, and just in the hope that maybe one person may stop and think about how things may be from a different perspective. The RSPCA aren't perfect, show me a large organisation that is, but they're certainly not the monster they're perceived to be. Animal welfare will always be an emotive subject. There will always be differences of opinion, but stop the charity slating, imagine what would happen if the RSPCA did not exist at all?
Any comments that this may generate such as 'where were the RSPCA when such and such happened...' Will not be answered, because firstly it's not my place to respond and secondly, I do not know. Oh wait, I do, we were sitting around eating biscuits doing fuck all, waiting for a camera crew and celebrity to show up of course...
Wait, one last thing, to pet owners... Neuter your goddamn pets!

Diamond, our poor hamster, living in a house with 4 predators!