Page last updated at 12:13 GMT, Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Animal welfare charity feud ends

Generic abandoned kittens
Many people wrongly believe the RSPCA protects animals in Scotland

Peace has been declared in a long-running feud between two animal welfare charities, it has been confirmed.

The Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals had accused its counterpart in England and Wales of "dirty tricks" over fundraising.

It had claimed the RSPCA was raising money in Scotland despite not operating there.

The RSPCA will now make it clear in adverts that it only helps animals in England and Wales.

The Scottish SPCA had published research in February which suggested 70% of the public wrongly believed the RSPCA, a completely separate charity, saved animals in Scotland.

The study led the Scottish charity to accuse the RSPCA of "stealing food from the mouths" of Scotland's animals because the confusion limited the amount of money the Scottish SPCA could raise.

The RSPCA does its best to avoid advertising in Scotland and we are all aware of the pitfalls and difficulties that sometimes arise from fundraising
Mark Watts

It also said the RSPCA had "poached" donations and legacies intended to help animals in Scotland.

The two charities have now signed a joint "memorandum of understanding" under the auspices of the Institute of Fundraising to "avoid any future confusion", the Scottish SPCA said.

Under the new agreement, the RSPCA will add a line to all its advertisements making it clear that it only operates in England and Wales.

It will also send all donations made out to the "Scottish RSPCA" or "RSPCA Scotland" to the Scottish SPCA.

Scottish SPCA chief executive Stuart Earley said there had been issues between the two charities for generations, and he was "delighted" an agreement had finally been reached.

He added: "There will undoubtedly be some teething problems but there is a commitment from both charities to make this work.

"Avoiding any future confusion will be a major step forwards for animal welfare in that people in Scotland will know that they need to call the Scottish SPCA if they find an animal in distress and not waste what might be vital time that could mean life or death for an animal by calling the RSPCA only to be referred back to us.

"We believe it is of fundamental importance that charitable donors are fully aware not only how but also where their donations will be used so an informed choice can be made."

'Pitfalls and difficulties'

Mr Earley also said he believed other charities would follow suit, as the issue of cross-border fundraising was not limited to the Scottish SPCA and the RSPCA.

The RSPCA, which always denied deliberately advertising in Scotland, said it was "delighted" the feud had ended.

The charity's chief executive Mark Watts said: "We want people in Scotland to support the Scottish SPCA. Even more importantly, if there is an animal in distress in Scotland, we want people there to contact the Scottish SPCA because that is the best way to get help.

"The RSPCA does its best to avoid advertising in Scotland and we are all aware of the pitfalls and difficulties that sometimes arise from fundraising but it is very clear that everyone involved in this agreement is committed to making it work."

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