THE Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, or RSPCA, is not one of British’s dog people’s favourite charities, in recent the charity has been accused of involving itself too uch in political lobbying rather than in animal welfare.
This week the RSPCA announced that it could be forced to implement job cuts and a major restructuring as it battles a drop in donations of £7m. The charity, which only exists because of public donations, is tackling a fall in financial support against a net cash outflow of £6.1m last year.
The charity has vowed to make its animal rescue work a priority, which surely should always have been the case. The cash crisis is caused by rising costs and a fall in legacy income. The RSPCA has seen a £5.7m plunge in legacy income, with gift donations having dropped by £1.3m.
The charity says it is to focus its work on its front-line welfare services – including those undertaken by inspectors, animal centres and hospitals – as part of a new ‘sustainability programme’. It hopes this will lay the foundations for the RSPCA’s work in the future.
Last year the charity was called on to investigate nearly 3,000 more complaints of animal cruelty than in the previous 12 months, and spent £87 million on ‘direct animal welfare’. This included about £4.5million on emergency boarding costs for animals in its care when there is no suitable space at its centres.
“We have already made significant budget cuts since a decision by council in 2009 to bring our expenditure and income back into balance,” said the RSPCA’s chairman of council Mike Tomlinson. “However, last year’s figures, when the charity had a net cash outflow from its core work of £6.1million, are clearly unsustainable and show that things cannot continue to carry on as they are.
“Faced with rising costs, including private boarding as well as fuel, energy and veterinary bills, our operational costs are increasing faster than income is being generated. We have already started to implement plans to diversify the society’s income into new areas such as events and business which will see it move away from a reliance on legacy income.
“However, these are long-term plans and we have to address the reduction in our income in the short term.”
The charity will undergo a staffing review as part of the sustainability plan. This will include restructuring and a loss of some posts.
I’m sure many people will see what the RSPCA is saying as something of a welcome move but equally it seems rather odd that a charity all about animal welfare has to make a public announcement that it is putting animal welfare at the centre of its activities!
It was also announced this week by EUKANUBA that its World Challenge (EWC) finals will be moving 4,500 miles from Florida to the Amsterdam Winner Show in the Netherlands in December.
Rumours circulated at Windsor championship show last week following an article in Dog News that the venue of the worldwide event was being changed and on Tuesday, Jose Luis Ibanez, commercial leader Eukanuba Breeder and Vet Business for Europe and EWC show chairman, released the statement confirming the news: “This year’s EWC finals will be hosted at the Amsterdam Winner Show (December 13-14) in the Netherlands.”
Of course Eukanuba is putting a very positive spin on the whole things, the Eukanuba statement reads: “The idea of bringing the EWC finals to Europe has been discussed since the early years of the competition. In alignment with the American Kennel Club, Fédération Cynologique Internationale and Kennel Club it has been decided that now is the right time for such change.” But somehow its impossible to shake the feeling that this is just the first of a series moves that are bound to be the result in the change of ownership at parts of Eukanuba in April when a significant portion of Proctor & Gamble’s Eukanuba and Iams business was sold to to Mars Inc.
Jason Taylor, assistant show chairman of the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship (AENC), has said: “The AENC has been proud to host the Eukanuba World Challenge as an embedded event. We agree that now is the right time to move the EWC finals to Europe, but this decision does not affect the plans for the upcoming AKC/Eukanuba National Championship. These events have always been managed concurrently and separately, and planning for the 2014 AENC show is well underway.”
In 2013, 43 selected dogs, representing countries from around the globe, received an expenses-paid trip to compete at the EWC at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida. The EWC and AENC were held at Long Beach in California from 2007 to 2010 and were moved to Florida in 2011.
Any new owners are going to want to look at how the business they have bought is run and changes in market and sponsorship are often key areas for new owners to examine as they move to put there own stamp on the new operation. It was confirmed at the Kennel Club annual general meeting in London in May that negotiations were taking place with Eukanuba about its future sponsorship of Crufts.
Staging the EWC must cost a vast amount of money as dogs and their owners are flown in from all over the world and are given generous accommodation and hospitality for the duration of their stay, it made sense when all parts of Eukanuba were under the same ownership but it seems inevitable that different owners will have different marketing imperatives and I can’t help but wonder if are seeing the beginning of the end for what I think has been a great event.