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.
# # # #
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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[Aberdeen Voice accepts and welcomes contributions from all sides/angles pertaining to any issue. Views and opinions expressed in any article are entirely those of the writer/contributor, and inclusion in our publication does not constitute support or endorsement of these by Aberdeen Voice as an organisation or any of its team members.]
There’s a word for this sort of thing. It’s about time the owners at Northfield open up the OED under “H” and read the meaning of the word “hypocrisy”. NO decent animal sanctuary would ever condone breeding, let alone breeding animals for sale that are going to be fattened for slaughter. Whether they are selling the animals directly to be slaughtered or sold to others before being slaughtered makes no difference. They must know what is going to happen so the blood is ultimately on their hands.
to that they would say our farm is completely different to our animal rescue work. Others feel differently
I think the important thing that seems to be getting forgotten here is the 6 ponies which are in need of rescue. Since an offer to cover all the costs involved to collect, passport, deal with all veterinary, dental and farrier problems transport them to a specialist Equine rescue centre willing to offer them a safe and friendly environment for the rest of their lives was turned down on the 13th of August, these ponies, we are assured, are safe but waiting for Northfield to raise several thousand pounds to proceed. There have been no further updates on their condition, no photos, no word of any kind on their present housing. I personally have to voice my concerns over the situation. This is not the way animal welfare should work.
Keith Marley, Director, The New Arc
To the Aberdeen Voice and Suzanne Kelly Reporter for the Aberdeen Voice In response to your article published about our Northfield Animal Haven and myself Kelly Cable.
I find your article very opinionated as to your own personal beliefs of being a vegan, i.e. a non-meat eater and your presumptions are a bit ignorant from fact.
Suzanne Kelly you have never met me, have never been to my premises and have never seen the animals in my care. When you and Wendy Valentine first contacted me was back in March of this year when it was on my page about my own personal not rescue sheep were given birth, this is where the vendetta comes in, nothing to do with the formation of a group called REACH. We raise sheep on the farm which we sell later on in the year, we maybe have 20 out of the 4 million born in Scotland every year, the way we raise our sheep is giving them the best care they need, they also have freedom, now at that time of year when there are lambs here our supporters come along and feed the lambs, meet the sheep and learn about caring for animals in the right way. WE HAVE NEVER AND NEVER WOULD BREED FROM A RESCUE ANIMAL. You have stated that a certain picture containing a lamb and chickens, that these animals were destined for barbecue, where do you get this from, the lamb in the picture is an orphan lamb called cutie that we bought she is still here, the chickens in the picture are either still here or have been rehomed, again which we have already told you, our chickens and ducks are sold to people with their own flocks not for the barbecue as you put it.
With regards to your statement about other charities offering a home for the Shetland Ponies and your presumptions as to why I am not a registered Charity but a registered Non Profit Organisation.
Yes an offer was made by Hillside who are NOT a registered charity and Blaikewell who have recently became a registered charity to take these ponies, but Northfield Animal Haven was asked to help after larger charities were contacted, now the person who asked for our help has been a supporter of ours since day one, 3 years ago and knows our constitution and how our rehoming works, not only that how can you state that these sanctuaries are doing it for free, do they not have to pay for horse passports or vets so what will they do, they will fundraise exactly the same as I am doing, now this brings me to your presumption that I have something to hide with being a non profit and not a charity, the same rules and laws apply to a non profit as it does to a charity, so do a bit more research on how a non profit organisation works. When you do a go fund me page it tells you to double your target that is needed, which I have done I have also listed what needs to be done when the ponies arrive, I have also stated that donations can be made direct to the vet, so your presumption that we are in this for financial gain is wrong. Your next presumption was that if I didn’t raise the money then it would be too bad for the ponies, which is a pretty nasty presumption to make and couldn’t be further from the truth.
When you first contacted me I was fundraising then for help to save Shetland Ponies, which are here, even though the target was never reached we still took them in. Now between March and now we have taken in many animals that we haven’t held fundraisers for and you have said nothing, now we start a new fundraiser to help more Shetland ponies and you start with your attacks again. So I assume that all our good work and what we have done in the past 3 years means nothing to you nor does the animals that we still have in our care, you know the rescues, the horses the pigs the rabbits. The whole article stinks of “yellow” journalism, which is what closed the News of The World down, In my opinion this is what should happen to yourselves because of the way you are portraying my sanctuary and myself.
[ Please note. Although the above would normally be subject to moderation on account that it in part breaches our publication criteria, it has been decided that it be published in it’s entirity, unaltered, as it has already been published elsewhere online, exactly as above, therefore moderation would be a futile excercise. – Moderator ]
I find the idea of running a business selling animals on for slaughter alongside an animal rescue(which aims to save animals from those very situations she is putting her own livestock in) a baffling contradiction of morals and highly inethical. Not only this, but to use profits from animals sold on for slaughter to fund an animal rescue?
Whether or not she sells them directly for slaughter does not excuse her; she is fully aware of where those animals will eventually end up(and I very much doubt it will be with a kind hearted shepherd who out of the goodness of his heart decided to buy up flocks of sheep and keep them on to frolick blissfully to the end of their days!).
Now there is no particular issue with a farmer running a sheep farm alone. But you cannot run both at the same time. The purpose of each of these operations are completely opposite and couldn’t be more conflicting.
As to the comment about Hillside having some sort of ‘vendetta’ against Northfield..perhaps they also strongly disagree with Northfields contradicting ethics. However to refuse help which could potentially save the lives of the ponies they claim to care about seems rather petty and self serving indeed. It seems to be saying ‘If we can’t have them, then no one can’.
Running a rescue is an admirable thing to do and I applaud anyone who takes on such a worthwhile enterprise, but in this case this person is going about it in entirely the wrong way – and whats worse, she just doesn’t seem to see it. I think she really needs to sit down and think about where her priorities lie.
Hi Kelly, as a confirmed carnivore, I felt it incumbent upon me to give a ‘non vegan’ response to your entertaining post. Just like Suzanne, I have never met you, but then again I never met Mother Theresa….but I have a fairly good idea of what she was all about! I really don’t see why you think it important to emphasise how many sheep are bred for meat every year? I feel you are trying to muddy the waters. The point that has been raised is that you seem to be openly proud of the fact that you fund your animal rescue centre by breeding and selling other animals. Duh! Don’t you get it? Conflict of interests?
At least you confirm that your chickens and ducks are ‘sold’ to people. (our chickens and ducks are sold to people with their own flocks not for the barbecue as you put it.) although the fact is that if you ‘sell’ any livestock you relinquish any rights as to its further use…..Hmm, That will be a bit like the lambs or highland cows you raise that you don’t slaughter…you just sell them to people who ‘might’?. WOW! This is the sort of justification that people use when they sell their kids! ‘How were we to know they would end up as sex slaves’. Sorry, but thats a complete and utter ‘OPT OUT’. Yet again, another attempt to muddy the waters. You breed, you raise, you sell for profit…end of! You don’t get to choose when the animals concerned are auctioned at a meat market!
You seem to have had a problem in the past with Hillside who you emphasise ‘are NOT a registered charity’ but your only excuse for refusing Blaikieswells is that they have only recently become a registered charity? This seems a bit contradictory? You seem to be making a point that Hillside is not a registered charity….just like yourself? and yet you ignore Blaikieswells who ARE a registered charity, but according to you have ‘only recently became a registered charity’. You need to check your facts there chuck because they have been a registered charity for about 20 years!
A wee bit of a change of story regarding your comments about what you refer to as ‘other’ charities made me laugh. They are not ‘other’ charities! They are charities…you are NOT! You originally posted that ‘All other charities refused to help’ but you have now changed it to ‘Northfield Animal Haven was asked to help after larger charities were contacted’. Yet your next comment states ‘the person who asked for our help has been a supporter of ours since day one, 3 years ago and knows our constitution and how our rehoming works’ How does that work then? Perhaps you should post your ‘constitution’ on line so we can all see it?
You go on to say ‘not only that how can you state that these sanctuaries are doing it for free, do they not have to pay for horse passports or vets so what will they do, they will fundraise exactly the same as I am doing’. FFS! They offered to rescue the ponies, take them in and offer them lifelong care because they had the facilities and funding in place to do so immediately! Of course they had to pay for vets and passports etc. Nothing is for ‘free’ except the claim you make on twitter that your own care and love is for free…
I am sure there may be a few questions about your claims that ‘being a non profit and not a charity’ that has the same rules and laws applied as if you were a charity’ may well elicit a response from those concerned, so I will hold back on commenting on what I consider an amazing and outright misleading claim!
The rest of your post quite frankly is just blah followed by more blah. Muddy waters and more attempts to divert attention from the initial concerns voiced in this article followed by your comparison to ‘The News of the World’ .. AV …Is this a compliment or slander? lol
FYI most rescues that refer to themselves as sanctuaries offer homes for life. Your ‘sanctuary’ seems to be a contradiction itself because it is based round rehoming animals?
Then again your comments are full of contradictions from what I have read on your own facebook pages….That is if you haven’t already removed the posts which you don’t like which you have been quick to do so of late.
Oh and just out of curiosity, why is that you have now covered up the SSPCA logo on the bottom right of your farm sign? Is this an accident or perhaps you were told to remove it because you have no right to claim any connection with them. Perhaps you could explain?