Nick Herbert visits RSPCA
Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert was in Southwater on Friday (12 March) to visit the headquarters of the RSPCA.
The Shadow Environment Secretary, who has responsibility for policy on animals, met with Chief Executive Mark Watts, Inspectorate Chief Officer Tim Wass and other policy staff to discuss a range of animal welfare issues.
Amongst the topics discussed were the Government's proposals to address dangerous dogs with plans for mandatory third-party insurance for all dog owners, which Mr Herbert said last week risked "penalising millions of law-abiding dog owners with the blunt instrument of a dog tax".
There was also a discussion about farm animal welfare and the RSPCA's ‘Freedom Food' scheme, which has continued to grow in popularity despite the recession. Mr Herbert also heard about the charity's role in promoting animal welfare overseas and tackling wildlife crime at home.
During his visit, Mr Herbert was given a tour of the headquarters to meet some of the organisation's 1,500 staff, around 350 of whom are based at the Southwater site.
Established in 1824 as the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the RSPCA now has around 700,000 supporters, 170 branches and 330 inspectors.
In 2008 the RSPCA rescued 143,501 animals and treated 214,657 animals in its hospitals and clinics.
Mark Watts commented: "The RSPCA was really pleased to welcome Nick Herbert to our headquarters and to discuss the key animal welfare issues government faces. We had a very successful meeting."
Nick Herbert commented: "Charities like the RSPCA play a vital role in protecting animals from abuse and mistreatment. These are issues very close to people's hearts and I was keen to learn more about how government can work with the RSPCA to take forward this important agenda."
Mr Herbert added: "I was very impressed with the scale of the RSPCA operation and the dedication of the staff who work tirelessly to promote animal welfare. The RSPCA is an important local employer whose work makes a difference to thousands of animals every day.
"I was delighted to hear that the RSPCA's Freedom Food labelled produce continues to see increases in sales, and I made sure that I bought a Freedom Food chicken last weekend as a result of what I learnt!"
Notes for Editors
1. For the website of the RSPCA, visit http://www.rspca.org.uk/home.