Animal Lovers who chance upon Northfield Animal Haven’s ‘Go Fund Me’ campaign to save two Shetland mares and four foals might want to dig deeper before digging into their pockets. The Shetland ponies could have already been rescued by Blaikiewell’s or Hillside Animal Sanctuary.
Northfield turned those offers down and is seeking £5,000 from the public. Is there more to Northfield than meets the eye? What does this Aberdeenshire family organisation do to raise funds? Members of the public, animal welfare organisations and local charities all contacted Aberdeen Voice. Here are some of Suzanne Kelly’s findings and experiences – with more to come shortly.
From a description on campaign site Go Fund Me, the average person would think Northfield is just another animal rescue charity, and no one else can help the ponies they are seeking £5,000 in donations to help:
“We urgently need your help to save 6 Shetland ponies, there are [sic] mums and their foals.”
“They are under threat of being shot and used over winter as dog food(1). We can make a difference. We can save them and get them here in the care of our rescue so we can rehabilitate them and rehome them but without your help we dont have the necessary resources to make this happen.”
“Please help by donating as much or as little as you can.
“The costs involved are for Transport, Vet Treatment, Farrier and Feed. Our work with the horses will obviously not cost a penny. Time is against us and we dont have alot of it, this needs to happen within the next few days(2)…………………….
“Registered not for profit organisation based in Scotland UK. SCVO 4365.
“Non funded Sanctuary/Rescue for all equine, farm and small animals(3). Run on a working farm in scotland(4). We are totally reliant on the publics [sic] help with donations(5). We have no reserves of monies unlike the bigger rescues. We pay no wages all donations go to the animals in our care. Without your continued support we cannot do what we do. Please give if you can. Thank You.”
“We got a phone call last night about this situation, we are working with the people involved to try and stop this from happening, if we had unlimited funds we would take them today. Other charities have been asked and all have refused to help(6) so it leaves it up to us and you the public to help. These Shetlands are young, there are foals of 11 months and two months old, they deserve to live and not be put in a freezer to feed to his dogs. please please help”
In their statement above, I have added numbers to various sentences that people have brought to my attention. There are serious concerns about how the public is being led to think about Northfield.
(1) It is admirable that Northfield do not want the animals used as dog food of course. But the same people who run this animal rescue are also people who raise animals for slaughter.
People who have read the Go Fund Me page and subsequently learned of the nature of the other side of the family’s business have been surprised, some appalled.
They raise animals for meat.
This has upset some of the donors greatly.
Many people are unable to understand the ethics involved: what kind of double standard allows a person to determine that Animal A is to be destined for the dinner plate (possibly sold for animal food) but that Animal B is to be cherished/saved/rehomed/pampered?
To this Northfield wrote among other things:
“With regards to my running a farm side on my property, yes I raise sheep and yes I sell the boys and surplus ewes at the local mart, these are sold as store lambs and if you are aware store lambs have to bought and raised on further, they may be kept as breeding ewes or most likely they will go for meat, but I personally do NOT send them to slaughter as you have stated many times.
“This may amount to 20 a year which you may get £50 for each so that will give you an income of around a £1000…”
The fact that Northfield aren’t personally killing the sheep but sell them to others to kill does not exactly sit well with everyone who donates to animal charities.
An October 2013 Facebook screenshot shows Northfield referring to selling pigs sheep and poultry to help pay for the rescues. Another Facebook dialogue claims ‘the farm income is always used for the rescues’.
This makes the claim at Point (5) “We are totally reliant on the public’s help with donations” somewhat misleading, as the sale of lambs (only depicted in the advertising because people like to see them, and not part of the ‘all’ farm animals Northfield rescues) seems at odds with the organisation’s own statements.
(3) (4) Anyone who is now confused as to what creatures Northfield deems worthy of rescue will be further confused should they stumble across other Northfield comments or websites mentioning the venture:
“Rescue, Rehome, Rehabilitate Retirement village for all farm, equinesmall animals.”
Indeed one Go Fund Me campaign claimed there were zero funds; it showed a photo of a lamb and chicken. Someone who had read that Northfield rescued ‘all’ farm animals might have seen this photo and concluded these animals were meant to be rescued, not barbequed.
A ‘working’ farm could be an agricultural farm. Despite a claim appearing on Facebook that all their donors know about the meat production business, it is clear that is not the case.
So do they rescue sheep with the right hand, and sell them for meat with the left hand? Well, no – the pictures you see of farm animals, and the claim to rescue all farm, equinesmall [sic] animals is explained thus on a recent Facebook thread:
“The rescues which include horses pigs and rabbits are what we fundraise for…. The only reason we post pics of the sheep/cows etc. is because we’ve been asked to. Some of the people who donate and live far away love seeing pictures of all the animals.”
People like to see pictures of sheep? Presumably these are the same kinds of people who like to see the lobster they are about to have boiled.
(2) (6) The Shetland ponies in question had offers from Blaikiewell’s and from Hillside Animal Sanctuary.
One recent donor on the Go Fund Me page who is a vegetarian told Aberdeen Voice:-
“Disappointed an ‘animal haven’ sends animals to slaughter. Did you read their reply re. refusing help from Hillside? Sounds odd to me.”
Both of these organisations offered to take the ponies – but Northfield has rejected the offers – begging the question how accurate was their claim ‘other charities have been asked and all have refused to help.”
The rationale Northfield used for not letting someone else save the ponies was played out on Facebook:
“Northfield Animal Haven Yes they [Hillside, Blaikiewell] did offer help but as I have already explained hillside were part of a vendetta against us earlier in the year so why would they be willing to help now also they are desperate for funds for the animals they already have so this would just add to their situation.
[? it is unknown what ‘vendetta’ is meant – but this could be the formation of ‘REACH’ an organisation seeking to standardise animal charity ethics – which excludes producing animals for slaughter to ‘save’ other animals]
“… Hillside did state things about us before their owner Wendy Valentine, was the person stating things, this is mostly to do with their own opinions and beliefs.
[This may refer to criticism of selling animals for meat at Thainstone]
“Yes I agree with you that we should pull together and I have numerous times before passed the names of other sanctuaries onto people who have contacted me but I couldn’t help at the time, so have told them to contact others, and with the support we have received at the moment these Shetlands are safe and the cost of transport is covered. Which I have said…And lastly, on this particular occasion, Kelly has been asked (and trusted) to take these ponies, and was specifically asked if she could promise that they would only go to her.”
“As you can imagine, this is going to put even more financial strain on her, and she really does appreciate the offer of help (and would love to be able to say yes), but a promise is a promise.
“Hope this has helped you understand the situation more.”
This seems to boil down to Northfield don’t want the Shetlands winding up as food (unlike their farm animals). The unnamed Shetland pony owner only wants Kelly Cable to have the animals – so presumably if Northfield don’t raise the money, it’s too bad for the ponies. The other sanctuaries that have different ideas about raising animals for slaughter while operating to save animals have been discounted from saving the Shetlands.
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Having waded through screenshots, listened to concerns from people finding Northfield imagery and statements contradictory and misleading, I asked for some clarification. The responses I got back were long-winded, histrionics. Claims were put against me inferring that I said the animals were mistreated, inferring someone was passing around lies and slanderous remarks, etc.
My questions were:
“Do you have a farm side to your business that sells animals at auction for meat? Did any other animal shelters agree to take these animals? Are you part of accredited national group Reach? you are not a registered charity it should be noted. Lastly I am a journalist that has had libellous personal attacks from you/your supporters for asking these questions”
For those who want to read the lengthy response, they will find it on Go Fund Me.
- I cannot come to terms with someone who will wash their hands of killing – or rather selling so someone else kills an animal so they can raise money to sell other animals – particulary when the images used of the animals killed have accompanied drives for rescue funds
- A great deal of emphasis is being put on my question about this organisation being a registered charity – this is mentioned in many criticism of me. I am merely making the statement it is not a registered charity. There is far more visibility in the finances and aims of a charity than there is of a voluntary organisation – for which finding financial information is very difficult
- REACH was set up to standardise ethics and practices for animal rescue groups; as one of its ethical positions is that rescue groups should not have other animals bred for slaughter to support saving other animals – this seems to me like basic ethics.
All in all, if you wish to support this organisation and its appeal to raise £5,000 to save 5 Shetland ponies, then by all means do. However, do so aware that other animals are slaughtered to fund these rescue efforts, that two other organisations had already stepped up to take the animals without the need to demand £5,000 but were turned away, that images of sheep and a statement that ‘all’ farm animals are rescued are not quite true.
As ever, Northfield have a right to reply (NB – they have barred me from Twitter yet told followers I ‘refuse’ to answer their tweets; they have also barred me from their Facebook page).
Confused? A website, UKsponsorship.com has this to say:
“The principal aim of Northfield Animal Haven is to provide a rescue/re-homing centre for any unwanted, neglected, abused or retired equine, farm and small animals.
“Our aim is to offer each animal a loving home where they will never again have to suffer abuse, neglect, abandonment or starvation. Please support us”. http://www.uksponsorship.com/a1875.htm
Just not the kinds of farm animals someone might want to eat.
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