Mar 212018
 

By Suzanne Kelly.

For people who care about animal welfare, supporting an animal shelter seems like a great way to help – but how many know what kind of shelter they are donating to? Last August Zara Brown, who said she was running a shelter, was found to have committed a catalogue of horrific offences.

Investigators found, for instance, a freezer stuffed with seven dead dogs and a cat.

Animals were left in dark, cold buildings with inadequate food and water and without medical treatment.

The courts were told poor Zara was depressed and was unable to cope.  She got off very lightly for the cruelty inflicted.

Then we learned she was a convicted fraudster to the value of some £37,000.

Clearly we cannot have people who are convicted fraudsters handling animals and money.

Facebook posts show that awareness of huge problems at her animal sanctuary existed long before she was ever convicted – why was no action taken?

A recent proposal to the Scottish government would see the SSPCA and police tackle the unscrupulous animal charity.  However, is the SSPCA really the right body to deal with this?

One long-running animal welfare group, Animal Concern Advice Line, likes the idea, but opposes SSPCA involvement. It recently told its supporters:

“We oppose this for three main reasons.

“1: The Scottish SPCA is the largest owner and operator of animal rescue centres in Scotland and as such should be regulated and policed by the scheme just like every other rescue and rehoming operation.

“2: Some of the smaller rescue, rehab and rehoming operatives harbour ill feeling towards the Scottish SPCA and would find it extremely difficult to be part of any scheme administered and/or policed by the SSPCA.

“3: Dumping the administration and policing of any scheme on the shoulders of the Scottish SPCA would mean that yet again the Scottish SPCA would be spending charity donations to do work which should be funded by central or local government thus reducing the resources available to the Scottish SPCA to help animals for whom no-one has a legal duty of care.”

Sadly the SSPCA has come in for a lot of deserved criticism of late. Its issues include:

  • Raising the chief executive’s salary to a whopping £216,000 without any consultation with the army of donors (I collected money for the SSPCA and donated for years – to help animals not to pay a massive salary to an executive – Suzanne).  The latest on this is that the chair has left.
  • Killing a harmless snake which was misidentified as poisonous by putting it in a freezer to die alone in the dark.  I asked repeatedly why, when the snake had already been captured could it not have been left alone until an expert could assess it – no answer was forthcoming.

When the salary of the chairman went up, the SSPCA closed its Shetland facility, with Mike Flynn of the SSPCA making the shocking claim that the SSPCA’s role was not to keep a building open in case there was an oil spill.

The facility was not strictly used for oil-accidents, and the closure dismayed residents.

Keeping the shelter open would have cost a fraction of what the chair’s salary rise was.

Initially Mr Flynn was critical of an Aberdeen scheme to kill deer on Tullos Hill to plant trees (a government report had already said trees could not be established in numbers because of the soil matrix being poor).  He was cheered for condemning the move – but when later asked for further comments on the scheme he called ‘abhorrent’ he simply stopped replying to correspondence.

John Robins of Animal Concern Advice Line has been campaigning for licensing and policing of animal rescue centres and sanctuaries for many years.

He said:

“I want to see all animal rescue and rehoming centres brought up to a high minimum standard of animal welfare, public safety and financial accountability. Sadly a small number of rescuers get it very wrong causing animals to suffer and the public to lose trust in the whole sector.

“Some put people at risk of death by placing potentially dangerous dogs in totally unsuitable new homes. Others fail to carry out  proper home checks and risk placing animals with potential abusers. Most of the problems are caused by well-intentioned people who don’t have the space, skills or finances to do things properly.

“Regretfully a few are criminals who knowingly abuse and neglect animals while conning the public and grant-giving trust funds out of money.

“It is a great pity that the many  good and trustworthy rescue centres are going to encounter a bit more red tape and expense to meet a new licencing regime but that is what it is going to take to get rid of the cowboys and criminals.

“One major problem is in finding an organisation to administer and police the licensing scheme.

“The Government wants the Scottish SPCA to run things but that would be wrong as the Scottish SPCA has more animal rescue centres than any other organisation and should not police itself.

“Police Scotland and local authorities, some of which have their own rescue kennels, have legal responsibilities for stray dogs thus rendering them unsuitable to manage the scheme.

“I suggest responsibility  be given either to the existing Animal & Plant Health Agency or to a new body created by the Scottish Government.”

A bona-fide animal rescue will either be a registered Scottish charity or will otherwise let you look at its accounts.

A genuine rescue will not be selling animals for slaughter while asking people to donate to save the lives of other animals – it is not possible to do both ethically, morally or logically (how can one pig be worth saving and another pig be worth killing?).

As the Scottish consultation points to the unsuitability of convicted fraudsters handling public donations, no reputable animal rescue will have anyone who has form as a fraudster or confidence trickster taking in donations.

Hopefully a suitable arrangement can be found, but for reasons pointed out by Mr Robins and by this article, the SSPCA should not be involved in regulating an industry it itself participates in – and which has failed in its duty.

Spotlight on Northfield Animal Haven

Despite its continuing threats to close (and its threats and insinuations against its critics), Northfield Animal Haven continues to:

  • Seek donations, buy animals (wrong for any charity, but wrong for one so apparently short of funds).
  • Sell animals at Thainstone market, where many if not all will wind up slaughtered.

Here is an extract from a previous article. Despite false claims from Northfield, neither Aberdeen Voice or Suzanne Kelly (myself) have been in any way prevented from writing about the odd goings-on at this place.

Fact Recap:

  • That Kelly Cable is a convicted benefit fraudster [3]– this calls her honesty into question;
  • That Kelly Cable denied signing for a substantial loan [4]– again her honesty was thrown in doubt;
  • That signs and funding appeals stating ‘all farm animals are rescued are misleading [5].There seem to be two Northfields – one that keeps some animals as rescues – while breeding for sale from these [6.1-3], and one that sells animals at Thainstone Market and privately where slaughter is the almost inevitable outcome [7]This schism is condemned by many animal welfare professionals including John Robins of Animal Concern Advice Line [8].
  • When cornered on this issue, Kelly has made posts along the lines of ‘everyone’knows that she operates a working farm and that the reason she uses pictures of animals in her appeal such as sheep and cattle that are not to be rescued is ‘people have asked to see all the animals’ [9]. Donors Aberdeen Voice had contact with were completely in the dark on the point, and would never have donated to money to an institution that breeds from its rescue for sales, and raises farm animals for commercial purposes.
  • That Cable used, without any contact or permission, images of animals she had nothing to do with for fundraising purposes – this calls transparency and honesty into question (the image on the left of an emaciated bovine is not an animal Cable was trying to rescue; it is from 2011 in the USA  [10].
  • That Cable has claimed to different witnesses to have disabilities and illnesses [11.1-11.4]; she has told several people these illnesses lead her to use cannabis on the farm and that alcohol and drug use by others is tolerated by her at Northfield around the 170 animals she says she cares for single-handedly. This clearly poses threats to animal welfare – and that has led to serious consequences as this article will demonstrate. This drug use should also be of serious concern to anyone using her animal assisted therapy programme.
  • There are allegations of cannabis sales which the authorities are aware of [12]. (As an aside, cannabis can be a very therapeutic medical boon to some. The appropriateness of seeking public donations while using/selling cannabis on a farm by a disabled woman who purports to single-handedly care for over 170 animals where neglect and deaths have occurred should raise red flags to animal welfare authorities and those concerned with public safety).
  • Northfield has itself posted about animals that have died ‘from a broken heart’ or overeating.
  • Northfield has also posted that Suzanne Kelly was involved in going to their farm, damaging fences, locking a pony in a food store where it ate itself to death.
  • A previous Northfield Facebook administrator, Fiona Manclark, was ordered to pay Suzanne Kelly £15,000 plus costs for repeated libel (Manclark had months in which to simply make an apology without facing any costs, but forced the matter to court). Ms Manclark spectacularly wrote to the court to excuse her failure to turn up, and in her letter she wrote that cannabis is routinely used at Northfield, a claim which fits in with other peoples’ allegations of drug use and dealing.  While many people feel cannabis use should be legalised, many would question whether a disabled woman who claims to care for over 70 animals, some of whom have died in her care from exposure and feeding issues – and who offers animal therapy to young people – should mix cannabis with an animal welfare charity offering therapy.
  • Ms Cable is a convicted benefit fraudster (see past AV articles).

This all adds up to irresponsibility fiscally, operationally, and safety wise on a worrying scale.

https://aberdeenvoice.com/2016/10/northfield-animal-haven-haven-hell/

Northfield and its supporters first began to attack Aberdeen Voice and myself when we repeated a press release (the Press & Journal printed it too) merely calling for a voluntary registration scheme for shelters which would ensure animal welfare.

What Northfield will make of mandatory regulation excluding fraudsters from running animal charities remains to be seen, but whether or not the SSPCA is involved, a regulator in this sector will spell the end for any fraudsters operating animal shelter charities.

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Mar 022017
 

A landmark law to tackle violence against women passed its Third Reading in the House of Commons on Friday with an overwhelming majority of 138 in favour to just 1 against. With thanks to Banff & Buchan SNP.

Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP with campaigners and MPs after the vote.

Local MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford’s Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence (Ratification of Convention) Bill 2017, requires the UK government to ratify the Istanbul Convention – a far-reaching new law that puts legal obligations on the state to prevent violence against women, protect
women and prosecute the perpetrators.

The Convention encompasses many forms of sexual violence and domestic abuse including stalking, harassment, sexual assault and rape, physical and psychological abuse by a partner, forced marriage, forced abortion or sterilisation and female genital mutilation.

The UK signed the treaty in 2012 but has yet to ratify it to make it part of UK law.

The SNP MP for Banff & Buchan, who is the party’s Westminster spokesperson for Social Justice, secured cross-party support for her Bill, which has been championed by women’s equality organisations including IC Change, Women’s Aid, Scottish Women’s Aid, Rape Crisis Scotland, White Ribbon, End Violence Against Women, Scottish Women’s convention, NUS, Girlguiding, and the Fawcett Society.

The Bill also received strong support from the actor and UN Women Global Goodwill Ambassador, Emma Watson, who this week wrote to all MPs urging them to vote for the Bill.

Commenting after the Bill passed its Third Reading, Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP said:

“I am delighted that this landmark legislation to combat gender-based violence has received such overwhelming cross-party support and now looks set to become UK law.

“This is a huge and historic step forward in efforts to tackle violence against women and has the potential to transform the lives of thousands of women right across the country.

“Women’s equality organisations and activists have been campaigning for the UK government to ratify the Istanbul Convention for many years now – so today’s vote is a cause for celebration and a testament to their sustained efforts.

“The Istanbul Convention is the most comprehensive and far-reaching framework that exists to tackle violence against women in its many forms and manifestations, and critically, it provides the legal apparatus to hold governments accountable for their progress. This is a powerful vehicle for improving policy, practices and services on an ongoing basis.

“Sexual violence and domestic abuse are neither natural nor inevitable. We can prevent it, we can challenge it and we can hold perpetrators to account. We need to do all these things if we are to end this systematic abuse of women’s basic human rights, and ratifying the Istanbul Convention is a big step in the right direction.

“We have travelled some distance in this struggle but we still have such long way still to go and we need to recognise that Ratification of the Istanbul Convention is a milestone on the journey to equality and justice for women, not an end point.”

Further reading:

 Emma Watson backs SNP MP’s bid to combat domestic abuse.
 Theresa May urges MPs to back Whiteford bill and stamp out violence against women.

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Dec 232016
 

By Suz Reid.

Several parents attending regular awareness events in Aberdeen, bring their compassionate young children, who have clear ideas on the animal welfare issue of fur farming. When you talk to these children they are naturally aware that killing an animal that has feelings is wrong.

They question everything including; why would you kill an animal for its fur and pay lots of money to wear it on a jacket, bag or hat?

“We allow the children to come as we are peaceful and want people to see even children know fur is wrong, we work together to collect signatures and hand out leaflets informing people of how barbaric skinning an animal alive for fashion is” explains Fiona Melvin (Co-founder of Say No Fur to Aberdeen Fashion).

Good question why are we so disconnected to the feeling of other animals, is it because they don’t speak our language? If you talk to someone who rescues an abused animal they will tell you how the animal responds to set emotion and responses. With kindness, structure and love they become confident and display affection. Which should open questions of why we feel we have the right to cause pain and suffering to other animals just to wear their skin.

“I feel Really strongly about the use of real fur, and we feel so upset to think people are actually buying it even when some know how it’s sourced and there’s plenty of alternatives without harming animals” said Laura Lotus Flower.

What the recent article in the local press – apart from unfounded claims by Escale France – failed to address, was the animal welfare in the fur trade or rather the lack of it. In this instance one shop Escale France named in the Press & Journal, is more than aware of the suffering of animals for the fur items bought in Europe to be displayed in her boutique. Profit margins versus animal suffering; with no information on the animal suffering being mentioned. I aim to address the balance.

Isobel from The Coalition to Abolish the Fur Trade (CAFT) states:

“People who buy fur intentionally, have been told by retailers that fur products are ‘responsibly sourced’ and come from ‘humane fur farms’ – in all of our investigations we have never seen any evidence of ethical or humane fur farming, and what’s more we cannot agree that it is ever ethical to take an animal’s life for the purposes of fashion.”

In fur farming there is no day light let into the large barns that the animals are housed, the cages are small, metal surrounds them. They do not see any human kindness, food slop is throw in as they squirm and writhe around often covered in their own faeces…they squeal to each other communication. In a prison waiting for the day they are dragged from that hell, to the pain of its slow death.

What about the trapping method? Days go by without the trap being checked, the animal caught may be endangered. In agony the animal chews at its limbs in desperation to free itself. It might have a litter waiting for feeding. So much suffering…

When you are told they don’t get skinned alive, you are being lied to.

They are close to death but still their hearts beat, they are often still breathing, semi conscious. There is no vet checks to minimise suffering. They can’t move because they have been stunned or particularly gassed.
They have endured, suffered …and then their bodies are dumped useless, dying from the horrendous pain of having their fur taken, crushed in the final blow by mechanical machine.

That is just mink farms. What about foxes, rabbit, raccoon, dog, cat they are all animals that feel? Does it matter? Yes it does. We should care how fur is being produced, because it has come to this. We banned it in the UK so we could stop the cruelty. Yet we allow it to happen elsewhere so we don’t have to care.

Isobel from CAFT comments:

“Animal welfare has never been at the top of the government’s agenda, especially our current government who have tabled such things as repealing the Hunting Act. This is why this is a social struggle, to raise awareness amongst the public about the horrors of the fur trade, encourage the boycott of any shop that sells real animal fur, and ask retailers to adopt fur free policies in their stores.”

People from Aberdeen care, they were not from animal activist group, they found others cared. They came together online, they researched what happens, they emailed other organisations which had the proof of what goes on behind the scenes. They have had open dialogue with three other shops in Aberdeen. Two of those shop owners signed the petition against Escale France. They didn’t agree with selling fur for vanity, currently the signature total for the petition is 1600.

One owner who had old stock on sale, agreed to remove those from her shop, along with making us aware she was a vegan and didn’t agree with the fur trade.

Cruise Fashion removed a Canada Goose jacket from the main shop, however, they are still selling fur and there is UK wide protests against this with CAFT. Inverurie Garden Centre had hundreds of customers up in arms with their fur trim accessories. They claim to have removed these items, though allegation have been made by a customer who visited the shop recently of the items still being available. Several other shops in Aberdeen and the North East continue to stock fur items.

John Robins of Animal Concern issued a warning to people doing their Christmas shopping or looking for bargains in the January sales:

“Do not always assume that fake fur is in fact fake fur. Fur is so cheap and unpopular that sellers will dye it bright colours and sell it as faux fur. You also have people saying it’s “only” rabbit or coney fur.

“The argument against fur is no longer just about killing endangered species, it is about the extreme cruelty involved in the trapping, farming and killing of animals for their skins. On fur farms one method of achieving this is by pushing a metal rod up the animal’s anus and electrocuting them. My advice is not just to avoid all products containing fur but to totally boycott all shops that sell any fur.”

We are not talking fur for survival here, we are talking about the suffering of animals for a fashion item, that you or someone you know is buying.

If you still intend on being ‘in trend’ and want to wear faux fur then check out CAFT website for the check list. http://www.caft.org.uk/ Or follow Animal Concern advice and avoid fur trim altogether http://animalconcern.org/

If you have read this and decide you want to support the campaigns against the fur trade please visit https://www.facebook.com/AntiFurAberdeen/?fref=ts

Or email saynofur@gmail.com for more information.

Photos by courtesy of CAFT.

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Nov 222016
 

Suzanne Kelly reports the latest claims from controversial commercial farm-cum-rescue for farm animals – an alleged break in, vandalism and deliberate ‘poisoning’ of a young Shetland pony.

open-day-july-15-sign-says-all-farm-animals-and-shows-animals-northfield-actually-slaughterAs has been demonstrated in previous AV articles, Northfield Animal Haven owner, Kelly Cable has engaged in some bizarre fundraising schemes, and animals have been injured, frozen to death and overfed to death at the New Pitsligo premises.
On the afternoon of 15 November 2015, a woman named Jackie Dow posted on facebook that Northfield Animal Haven had suffered a break in on the night of 14 November.

She wrote:

“hello to the evil people who went to Northfield Animal Haven last night. hope you are proud of yourselfs as you cut all the wire so the sheep could get out. and you poisoned my pony who sadly died today. call yoursels animal lovers. I don’t think so. This vendetta needs to stop before any other animals suffer and thanks to you I will have to spend a fortune on vet bills. what did my boy do to deserve it…. and if the people who did this are reading this hope you are proud of yoursels.” 
– Jackie Dow on NAH’s facebook page, 15 Nov 2016.

Aberdeen Voice sent Ms Dow an email to clarify why she thinks she knows who did this act, why she thinks they are animal lovers and what vendetta she is referring to. When / if she replies, we will print her response.

Northfield also echoed this allegation; on its Facebook page owner Kelly Cable wrote:

“got up this morning to find fencing cut out onto main road for the sheep and horses, lovely little auguero who everyone met at the Super Saturday locked in a portacabin and sadly he was very toxic, no gut sounds at all so he had to be pts [put to sleep]. Very evil twisted people out there and when they get caught I hope they throw the book at them.”
– Northfield Animal Haven Facebook page.

It seems that Ms Dow and Eric Cable had suspects for this very odd crime in mind – and Eric decided to name me and blame me for this event:

“Well the haters have really done it this time. A 22 month old Shetland pony poisoned last night after locking it in a feed store I hope that cowbag Suzanne Kelly is f**king happy with her work now the most evil bast///on on this planet I believe that she is now encouraging activists and it looks like they decided to pay a visit last night cut fence wire let sheep out locked a trusting wee pony into a portakabin and poison the wee toot… the vets want to speak to the police when they arrive.”

The Cables assert in their posts on the incident that the press and police were informed. 

However, when alerted to this development, I telephoned the Police Scotland media arm – the spokesperson could find no such report. On Monday 21 November the police now have an incident report – which only concerns a fence. No pony is mentioned.

The police have been asked to say when this incident was reported considering there was no such report on their books when Eric Cable’s post claimed the vet wanted to speak to the police when they arrived. It currently seems that while Cable wrote those words about police arriving, the police had no information whatsoever about the incident. 

Sources associated with local newspapers were unaware of anyone contacting them about a poisoned animal or vandalism. No news reports have been published about this alleged incident which was meant to have happened 6 days ago. There was no outreach from Northfield to other shelters in the area to warn them of potential vandals in the area.

The very idea of the crime is a bizarre one. There are many incidents of livestock being stolen, and last year there was a horrific attack on a mare in a field.

But to cut a fence and then, oddly, to sneak past the CCTV system it is understood operates at NAH, for the purpose of taking one of the 170+ animals and locking it inside a feed store beggars belief.

In the past, two animals at Northfield were allowed to overeat with fatal consequences. In a separate incident, an elderly horse was left to freeze to death in a field. Could this possibly be yet another instance demonstrating that a woman with health issues (in her own words) might not be best able to look after 170 animals?

Things took a dark turn following Eric Cable’s post. Several people made threatening posts, and one man who had in the past made threats, shared Jackie Dow’s post over 2 dozen times. The threats were reported to Police Scotland. Many have since been deleted from facebook.

Two of the more concerning threats were:

“They won’t be so smart when we get hold of them. Silent justice and as for that f**king reporter and her pals it’s on f**kers”

and …

“I will find you. I will hurt you.”

There are many times over the course of investigating how the Cables operate that I have been called a liar by Eric and Kelly Cable. I have asked them to apologise for the defamatory remarks – or to at the very least point out what portions of my articles they consider to be ‘lies’.

All of my claims have sources – very often I am quoting back contradictory claims that Kelly Cable has herself made over the course of time.

One day she will say NAH rescues all farm animals; the next she claims everyone knows they also sell animals at the Thainstone market and it’s not her affair what happens to such sold animals.

She will one day say that no animal will ever be put to sleep whilst her fundraising appeals clearly say that unless money is found, animals will be put to sleep. 

The Cables have been asked to apologise on Facebook, Twitter and to the Aberdeen Voice for publication of a full apology, or I will have no choice but to seek legal remedy for the ongoing, serious defamation – and not least this latest unfounded attack by Mr Cable which seems to have led to threats of violence.

In a previous facebook post, Kelly Cable had gave her permission for me to see her veterinarian’s records; I wrote to the vet at the time, who refused to release any information. 

After this alleged pony poisoning and Eric Cable’s post saying the vet wanted to speak to the police (who had not been told about a poisoned pony it should be remembered), I emailed the vet once again. A source made me aware of The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons’ position:

‘The duty of confidentiality is important but it is not absolute and information can be disclosed in certain circumstances, for example where the client’s consent has been given, where disclosure can be justified by animal welfare concerns or the wider public interest.’

Considering Northfield has been asking the public for money for years and, as previous articles demonstrate, sometimes doing so under false pretences, and considering the number of animals injured and neglected at Northfield over time, it is hoped the vet will release information.

Since this poisoning tale appeared on Facebook, someone was in touch concerning a pony that died there of blood poisoning – how many avoidable deaths and injuries will it take for the vet to raise concerns with the authorities and let the donating public know what is going on?

I posted this request for apology and many questions about the incident on the Northfield Animal Haven Facebook page. The page is now offline. 

Aberdeen Voice will follow this story and report any and all updates.

Aberdeen Voice is sorry to hear that yet another animal has had an avoidable death at Northfield. If indeed vandals cut a fence, snuck in, and put the animal in a feed store – then we are confident the CCTV will have caught them, and we hope they will be brought to justice.

Should it be conceivable that the truth is still to be determined and information has been withheld or warped, possibly to cover a further incident of fatal animal overfeeding and/or other form of negligence, Aberdeen Voice is equally hopeful that the truth will come out. In the mean time, we are receiving yet more stories from people who have had business/animal welfare dealings with the Cable family.

Anyone with any further information is invited to please contact Aberdeen Voice in strictest confidence.

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Nov 142016
 

escale-france-protestors-by-s-reid-sept-16bBy Suz Reid.

Fur in Aberdeen is not a new thing, yet we became less aware that it was sold, even oblivious to it. Many, including myself, thought a ban on fur in the UK in the 1990s included imports. How very wrong we were.

In the last 5 years shops selling fur has increased dramatically.

Aberdeen has its own supply, quietly located in select elites shops of high end fashion.

Escale France run by Karine Franck is one shop who proudly displays her raccoon, fox, mink and rabbit fur products online and in store. Her designer is the top offender in cruelty fur Jean Paul Gaultier.

The first I saw of Escale France was on Facebook 6 months ago, sharing her new collection of fur items, thousands were up in arms.

 “Fur in our area not in my name,” stated some comments.

I was certainly grieved by this and felt something needed to be done. Did the owner know where her fur had come from? How it was made? I asked her face to face, her response was arrogant and unemotional

“Yes I have seen the videos, I know how they die,” she stated unmoved.

A group of like minded people against the shop developed SAY NO FUR to Escale France Aberdeen UK Branch and discussed showing Karine Franck that we would not tolerate fur in her shop. We asked her to listen to her customers, many had commented on her page, disgusted at her products.

“You have such lovely items, why must you spoil it by adding real fur?” remarked one customer.

 Our first three demonstration were duly noted by Karine and her male friend, who came out to give us his view which was quite frankly sickening:

“ I would skin my cat and wear it,  I’ve eaten dogs killed alive in China, what is the difference?”

Since our fourth awareness event, one of our members acted out a caged animal being electrocuted. It drew a crowd, bringing the debate on fur in fashion to the forefront. Karine Franck responded by putting more fur items on her display, allegedly claiming to a few customers it was faux fur. These claims dismissed on evidence from her online marketing and advertising.

‘Yell.com; Real Fur Retailers and suppliers in Aberdeen – Escale France’

When I contacted her by email she responded:

wearing fur is not morally worse that wearing leather or eating meat”

This I disagree with as the fur she is supplying is from China and Poland – both have little or no welfare standards. Animals are not killed straight away, often stunned before having their fur removed. In the rest of her email she deflected the subject, avoided direct questions and was not willing to continue in any discussion or debate.

Her justification for selling fur in fashion was:

“Some people watch the Peta videos showing the barbarism inflicted on some animals for the fur. Even if these are examples of bad ranches and slaughterhouses contravening codes of conduct, you can find some of them in leather and meat industries, and to compare with them, the fur production is small.”

I guess that makes it okay then! Even if the videos are real, so what…? Since when did we lose our compassion, become so disassociated with what is fashion acceptable?

We banned farming in fur for one main reason, it was deemed cruel to kill an animal just for its fur…and nothing else. When we investigated Aberdeen’s fur trade, I met a lovely lady Amanda who runs two fashion boutiques, one in Brighton and one in Aberdeen.

When she heard of our campaign she invited me to visit her shop. She was shocked that the public in Aberdeen would allow real fur when there are so many wonderful faux alternatives. Many of these faux items where in her store ‘Sirene’ in Union Street.

“It is a cruel method for a fur trim, why would you stock that when you have stunning traceable faux alternatives”

If Sirene boutique can select faux free and still satisfy her customers, why can’t Escale France?

This is just the beginning with all shops and stalls in Aberdeen/shire being added to a list and working with Animal Concern, Respect for Animals, Craft in future campaigns. If you don’t know what it’s all about please visit the above groups, who have investigated it at length, see what the barbaric trade is all about.

For forthcoming events in Aberdeen email us at saynofur@gmail.com.We have been collecting paper petitions and have an online petition. Please sign.

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Sep 232016
 

A George Street clothing store’s unrepentant sale of fox and racoon fur items has sparked off a petition and a series of protests. The unrepentant retailer Escale France has not answered Aberdeen Voice’s request for comment on its choosing to sell items featuring the pelts of animals which would have suffered immensely in their brief, unnatural lives confined to cages before an eventual electrocution, drowning or bludgeoning to death.

As Escale France can neither find any words in defence of its position (if such is possible) or is unwilling to speak to the press, the press speaks to animal welfare groups, individuals, fashion experts – and children – as to what is wrong with the fur trade. By Suzanne Kelly

escale-france-protestors-by-s-reid-sept-16b

Protestors attended legal demonstrations on Thursday 15 and Saturday 18 September

Fur is making something of a comeback; a comeback among people who by default are lacking in compassion and empathy.

Horrific existences in small wire pens, torture, suffering and eventual terrifying deaths await fur bearing mammals that exist in the fur industry.

There is no excuse that their meat can be used to feed the hungry.

Depending on the animal, dozens of animas will be skinned (sometimes alive) to create a single garment. Escale France is not bothered.

Here are quotes from some of the protestors who attended legal demonstrations on Thursday 15 and Saturday 18 September (more demonstrations are planned).

Christine Arnold Solomon, fashion lecturer who is opposed to the use of animal fur, told Aberdeen Voice:

“Stella McCartney has built a whole designer empire built on not using any animal products in anything including perfume; she uses lots of beautiful faux furs and gets the same aesthetic.”

Fiona Melvin said:

“How the animals are raised; they grow up in a cage and the doors never open until it’s time for them to die.

“They are anally electrocuted when they are often still alive – they are shocked, terrorised beyond belief.”

Kairhys, a young man, said:

“It is murder. I have a dog, two rabbits, two rats, 3 cats… they all have feelings; they can get scared.”

The demonstrators had informed the police of their plans in advance; the police who attended were found to be very helpful by the protestors. Signs and  placards, chanted slogans and discussions with passers by took place.

Many people were shocked to find a store in Aberdeen selling real fur; one such piece for sale is a dead racoon’s pelt dyed a pink colour – which further begs the question as to why fake fur was not used – should any argument be  in the first place – a fake pink fur could have sufficed without the animal destruction.

A petition for those against this store’s use of fur can be found here:

Anyone wishing to join the peaceful protest group can leave a comment on this article, asking to join the closed Facebook group. A further protest is planned for Saturday 24 September at Escale France from noon until 3pm, close to John Lewis.

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Sep 092016
 

Old Susannah’s takes account of how no one is accountable any more for their actions. By Suzanne Kelly

DictionaryA lovely week of great weather in the Deen has passed; if only we had some city centre concrete slabs we could have relaxed on instead of a suntrap in the form of a sunken, historic, green, grassy garden. Oh well.

BrewDog threw another of its Drink and Draw events; these are for people of all abilities, and are going down a storm. Lush helped raise awareness and funds this past weekend for excellent charity DAWGS.

This past week in the UK saw some of the great thinkers of our time explaining some of their great works.

A 63 year old man in Manchester is being unfairly persecuted for punching a 5 day old baby in a supermarket. The proud parents were holding the child up to show to some of their friends on the child’s first-ever day out, when the man came over and punched the child in the head.

For some reason security called the police and the child was hospitalised (apparently she is fine now). Inexplicably, the police wanted the man to explain.

“I thought it was a doll,” he said. 

The Manchester City doll-punching finals will be held next month, we hear.

Closer to home, Aberdeen City Council is once again the toast of the town.

Not content with giving us Marischal Square and giving the P&J free rent for a year (while we have homeless on the streets and empty, habitable council properties it should be noted – thanks Pete Leonard), they are making the streets safe. By safe, I mean they are covering those hazardous cobbled streets of the merchant quarter (if that’s what we’re calling the Green this week) with tar.

No more high-heel-related trips; no more boring historical ambiance. It was all going to be lovely – then the not in my back yard brigade demanded the cobbles should be restored.

If only there were someone in charge of making decisions about our Housing and Environment who could know what’s going on and what’s happening. But if you’re only going to pay someone about £112,000 a year plus expenses and a £20,000 a year pension contribution, you’re not going to find anyone but a selfless saint to take on the job and actually know what his department heads are up to (isn’t that right Pete Leonard?)

Well, autumn is on the way, and Old Susannah will be joining Aberdeen’s fashionistas to do some shopping. And where better to wear the latest fashions?

ESCALE FRANCE is a Union Street shop selling fox and racoon fur clothing. Nothing screams ‘I am ignorant, self-absorbed and don’t care about needless suffering’ than decorating yourself with the pelt of an animal that was caged, tortured, terrified and skinned, usually alive, sometimes after being clubbed to death.

SPECIAL OFFER: Visit Escale France, and for every OS reader who tells them to stuff their fur where there will be no danger of sunburn, I will buy you a free half pint of BrewDog. I am serious. Send me a photo of yourself in front of their shop with an anti-fur poster to Aberdeen Voice, and I will stand you to a drink (first 50 people).

It is a well-kept secret, but it is possible to be warm and good looking in 21st century Scotland without sewing together the skins of tortured dead animals, raised only for fur, to wear.

Whether it’s making money out of torturing animals, tarring over a medieval cobblestone street, selling Aberdeen taxpayer-owned land for a pittance, or punching infant girls, the people who engage in such activities always have excuses.

Just remember – you can do anything you like – as long as you have a good back up story. Here are some examples of today’s best excuses, great and small. Have you screwed up? Did you lie down on the job? Over your head and don’t know what’s going on? Here are some helpful examples of how great leaders cope.

Clerical Error: (Modern English compound noun) To make an unintentional administrative mistake, which might include making a typographical error, mis-filing documents.

Didn’t get obey the law on Data Protection? No idea there was one? Are you charged with No clue how to do anything but your nails? No worries! If you’ve not registered your multi-million pound, 6,000 person employing golf resort complex with the UK authorities and are in breach of some serious human rights – just tell them you made a clerical error.

If you’ve been filming all those tedious plebs, camera crews and residents for years but didn’t actually register your activities, just tell the authorities it was not your fault, but one of your thousands of employees made a mistake and didn’t file.

According to that leftie newspaper The Guardian, the Scottish Information Commissioner’s office said:

““The Data Protection Act requires every organisation that processes personal information to register with the ICO, unless it is exempt. Failure to do so is a criminal offence,” the commissioner’s office said last week. “We’ll be writing to the company, asking it to clarify how it is registered.”

The award-winning most beautiful golf course in the world ever told the Guardian:

“We take the security of our employees and guests’ personal data very seriously and comply with all aspects of the Data Protection Act. [sure you do – Old Suz] A clerical oversight has just been brought to our attention which is now being rectified.

“As a public facility open to all, Trump International has CCTV cameras located at its entrance and around the public buildings within the estate, for the safety and security of its members, guests and staff. [but not for the safety and security of ramblers like Rohan Beyts, filmed while on the course, obvs – Old Suz]

So, it’s all just a clerical error. The clerk in question forgot to register with the Information Commissioner, assuming they had the sense to know that if you put up security cameras you need to do so. It would be a harsh person indeed who disagrees with the Trump position this is a clerical error.

Far be it from Old Susannah to suggest this is yet another mistake in a catalogue of mistakes (planning, budgeting, forecasting, course design – remember when part of the course was washed away?…) which demonstrate the management shows that it is both out of its depth as to what is required for legal compliance, egotistical to the point they feel themselves above the law, and demonstrative of disdain for the rest of us.

Yes, just a clerical error.

Bonus example of clerical error: The Press & Journal has reported on how lovely the course is, and how tastefully decorated the Trump-crested MacLeod house is. It also reported on Rohan Beyts’ being arrested for allegedly urinating in the Marram grass – and being allegedly filmed on Malone-Bates’ orders.

However, I can’t find a record of Damian Bates’s P&J reporting on Mrs Sarah Malone-Bates’ failure to register the Trump resort with the Scottish Information Commissioner. This omission is most likely just a clerical error.

Road Repair: (Modern English Compound noun) act of ensuring street surfaces are safe.

You really have to hand it to the people responsible for road maintenance in The Granite City. For centuries a cobbled street surface at the Green managed to endure. It’s just wild speculation, but in the past, Old Susannah guesses that if a cobblestone got chipped or loose, either it was replaced or the area around it would have been fixed. How did those past craftsmen manage for the hundreds of years before ACC 2016 existed?

Yes, someone near the top of the food chain, possibly of course in Housing & Environment (would that be you Pete Leonard?) decided the thing to do was to tar over the cobbles. Now I prefer the romance of a tarred street in a historic area as much as the next gal, but apparently people complained, and the cobbles will be restored.

Why did the city suddenly decide to tar the road over? According to the BBC:

“Aberdeen City Council said the resurfacing on Windmill Brae was necessary because some of the stones had come loose. Concerns had been raised on safety grounds by local businesses.”

The BBC piece continues:

“However, the local authority said the work was below standard and the tar would be removed. A “permanent solution” is being sought.” 

Why fix a few loose stones when you can tar over history? You might think that since policy seems to be pothole repair is done on a patchwork spot by spot area (when it’s done at all), some due care might have been given to fixing whatever stones were loose.

It does get better though – this whole debacle shows just how responsive and caring our council is. Local businesses – not named, not coming forward – apparently have safety concerns about the cobbles. Naturally, whenever a business or a person expresses a concern or a wish, the city will immediately spring into action to fix the issue or respond to the request. Just like when 3,000 of us and three community councils asked the city to leave Tullos Hill alone, spare the deer and save money.

If you don’t recall, the head of Housing & Environment helped push the destruction of 36 deer and we now have neither deer nor thriving trees in the scheme our head called ‘cost neutral’ (but you were wrong on all counts, and it’s cost the taxpayer a five figure sum so far, hasn’t it Pete Leonard? Ever thought of going into a different line of work?) But I digress.

Yes, some businesses apparently had safety concerns. Answer: change the hundreds of years old cobblestone streets. I am on the edge of my seat to see what businesses come forward to say they wanted this, and to see what the ‘permanent solution’ would be.

So the next time you vandalise a historic structure by covering it with tar (why didn’t the workmen wonder at the stupidity of their task you might ask?), just say you were trying to please local businesses, and it was unsafe – but you’ll undo it anyway. Makes perfect sense here in the Deen.

Finally, while I am in two minds about including this in a satirical column, sometimes satire is a good response in place of fury. Here are some of Pete Leonard’s excuses for the Aberdeen Crematorium ash scandal. Despite industry bodies existing in the UK for decades, despite best practice standards being easily found on the internet, despite being the man ultimately in charge, Pete Leonard has his reasons for what happened on his watch.

Vacation: (English Noun) State of being away from work, perhaps involved in travel and/or leisure.

While the families who were denied the chance of personally disposing of the ashes of their offspring waited for answers, Leonard was on vacation.

Signed off Sick: (English compound noun) Non attendance at work due to illness.

Mr Leonard did not return from holiday; he is signed off ill.

No Excuse:

So many people seek power and money; I’ve lost track of the people who asked me to try and help with long-running Aberdeen City housing issues (some quite horrific). I’ve tried to make Pete Leonard see sense over the deer cull; he would not take any heed or even listen to the experts who were lined up to give free advice on how to control deer without culling.

Leonard did however deliberately stop the proposal put forward by a councillor to retain and enhance the meadow at Tullos and leave the deer alone – Leonard said leaving the land alone was ‘too costly’.

Housing & Environment always had a reason for delays, bad decisions, and stubbornness. I will, as stated, publish a crematorium review report, but I leave you with this sobering conclusion from the public-facing report (I am trying to get the ‘secret’ report released, you know – by contacting that Information Commissioner Malone hadn’t a clue about). Here is what the report said about the crematorium service, which fell under Leonard’s remit:

“this was a section of the City Council working in almost complete isolation without any strategic direction, development or quality control of the service, so far as it related to babies, infants and non-viable foetuses. There was little knowledge by Senior Management of the service provided to the families of these babies.

“There was insufficient interest taken or leadership shown by management” 

I am sorry if Mr Leonard is ill. I do however want him out of office, as I have done since first encountering him. I am far sorrier for all the people who should have had someone in this highly-paid senior management who actually gave a damn. The evidence over the years convinces me he never did.

Let’s not leave on this bitter note though. Just a few words of advice in summary.

1.  if you are going to run the world’s greatest golf course, there may well be some laws that apply – even to you.

2.  Fur belongs on the animals that bear it. The animals do not belong in cages. The fur trade is obscene.

3.  If you are the sort of person involved in the doll-punching scene, try to make sure you can tell the difference between a doll and a living, breathing infant. If not – consider asking for permission to punch someone’s doll/child before actually doing it.

Next week: hopefully a report on Leonard’s resignation, and more definitions. And – hopefully by then Aberdeen City Council will have offered Aberdeen Voice a free office space too – if they do it for the P&J, then they should do it for us too (nb – we’d turn it down because of things called journalistic ethics, principle, and the fact Marischal Square is nearly as unpopular with the pubic as the P&J has made itself.)

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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.]

Aug 262016
 

AAM NSPCC (1)With thanks to Esther Green, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR

A £15,000 donation from Aberdeen Asset Management is providing crucial support to extend a leading child protection charity’s work in giving primary aged pupils the  knowledge and understanding they need to stay safe from abuse and neglect.

The NSPCC’s Schools Service in Aberdeen sees skilled volunteers working in city schools covering the difficult subjects of abuse, neglect and bullying presented in an age appropriate way.

Through assemblies and workshops, and by using different tools such as mascots, posters and kits, they give essential safeguarding information in a lively, interactive and memorable way.

Children are taught to understand abuse in all its forms and recognise the signs of abuse, know how to protect themselves from all kinds of abuse and know how to get help, and the sources of help available to them, including the charity’s Childline service.

Aberdeen Asset Management’s support has covered the total cost of operating the Schools Service in Aberdeen City for a year, enabling over 1,600 children to be  informed on how to stay safe from abuse and what do do if they have a worry.

Alice Adamson, Aberdeen Area Co-ordinator for the NSPCC said:

“We are hugely grateful to Aberdeen Asset Management Charitable Foundation for supporting the expansion of our service and this funding will support our skilled volunteers in delivering a vtial service which covers the difficult topics of abuse, neglect, bullying in a child-focussed and relevant way.

“Being able to teach children at primary school about abuse enables schools and children to identify problems sooner and ultimately make sure that children with problems in this area get the help they need to have the happy childhood they deserve.”

The charity offers the programme freely to schools to help ensure all children aged 5-11 learn essential safeguarding information and so that pupils feel empowered to speak out and stay safe as a result.

One Grampian volunteer who delivers the programme in schools  says that children respond well to the approach taken and the tools provided, including a mascot and a bag of worries, are essential in the delivery to children as it keeps them fully engaged throughout.

After one recent session, the volunteer was handed a note from one of the children showing they clearly knew what was inappropriate behaviour – and would know exactly what action to take if they were in that situation.

The volunteer added:

“I admit to feeling quite overwhelmed when I read the note and I was completely reassured that this child knew exactly who their ‘trusted adults’ were and where to seek help if they needed to. This act and many other comments from children during our deliveries, keeps me passionate in my volunteering role and further cements my belief in the importance of the NSPCC Schools Service.”

Dominic Kite of Aberdeen Asset Management, said:

“This programme uses specially trained volunteers to talk to primary school children about abuse and with £15,000 from our Charitable Foundation they will be able to extend this essential work and have the materials they need to support the effective delivery of this programme in Aberdeen city schools.”

The Aberdeen Asset Charitable Foundation was established in 2012 to formalise and develop the Group’s charitable giving globally.

The Foundation seeks partnerships with smaller charities around the world, where funds can be seen to have a meaningful and measurable impact and the firm encourages its employees to use their time and skills to support its charitable projects.

The main focus of the Foundation is around emerging markets and local communities, reflecting the desire to give back to those areas which are a key strategic focus of the business and to build on the historic pattern of giving to communities in which Aberdeen employees live and work.

A number charities supporting children have benefitted from the Foundation recently including the Northsound Cash for Kids Bed Appeal, the National Deaf Children’s Society for its work with deaf children and their families, Hopscotch which was able to provide a welcome respite holiday for vulnerable children in Middlefield, Aberdeen, and the Teapot Trust’s for its art therapy work at the Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital.

For more information visit http://www.aberdeen-asset.co.uk/aam.nsf/foundation/home

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Aug 262016
 

No activity, however benign it should be, is safe from scams and frauds. Before assuming that every photo of an animal to be rescued is genuine – before assuming any charity is genuine, here are some points to bear in mind. By Suzanne Kelly.

willowsgingerEveryone who loves animals can have that sentimentality turned into a powerful weapon by scammers and fraudsters.

Reputable animal charities, animal welfare organisations, consumer protection bodies will all warn you to be careful who you send your money
to.

Scambusters identifies the seven most common types of animal charity frauds on its website.

Top of the list is people soliciting donations for animals that do not exist or that are nothing to do with the charity. Aberdeen Voice reported on one such story locally.

Northfield Animal Haven used photographs on several occasions in its fundraising – and the photographs turned out to be animals that had no connection to this organisation at all.

Despite bluster, threats and denials from Northfield, the facts remain:  the photos used were of other people’s animals which had no connection to NAH.

Some of the owners were extremely displeased at the use of photographs appropriated from their own websites without permission – which would not have been granted.

John Robins of Animal Concern Advice Line said:

“Regretfully the time is long overdue when all animal sanctuaries and rescue centres need to be licensed, inspected by an independent authority and maintained to high minimum standards. A true animal sanctuary does not send any animals to slaughter, does not breed animals and does its best to find good homes for life for the animals it rescues.

“Numerous times a year we hear of “sanctuaries” which are really no more than well-meaning animal hoarders where one or two people, without the necessary space, financial resources or expertise take in numerous cats and/or dogs and sometimes farm animals and horses . Before long they discover they cannot pay for vets’ bills or even for food for the animals. The animals end up ill, emaciated and infested with worms, ticks, fleas and other parasites.

“Sometimes by the time the authorities realise there is a problem all they find are dead and dying animals. If you are requested to donate to an animal sanctuary there are several questions you should ask first. Is the sanctuary a registered charity? If the answer is ‘yes’ double-check with the Charity Regulator. If the answer is ‘no’ ask why not and how can they survive without the extra money charity status provides.

Ask for copies of its constitution and most recent accounts. Find out what animals it has and how it rehomes them. Are the animals neutered and is the sanctuary registered with a local vet? If you re-home an animal from a rescue centre, expect to pay a realistic fee to cover veterinary costs such as neutering, vaccinations and micro-chipping. Do not agree to pay a rescue centre large sums of money for pedigree dogs or fashionable cross-breeds.

“Expect the rescue centre to home-check you to ensure your premises are suitable for the animal you are taking on. If they do not do a home check they are not doing their job properly. Do not confuse animal sanctuaries with commercial enterprises such as working farms with visitor facilities, petting zoos or commercial falconry centres.”

Hoarders too masquerade as rescues. Any person or organisation that takes in more animals than it can support or continues to take in animals while unable to afford basics for existing rescues may well be a hoarder. Best Friends Animal Society has this to say on the subject:

“Collective denial – of individuals, of the whole group – may have contributed to the cats’ suffering. “It’s becoming a common thing,” says Dr. Gary Patronek, a veterinarian, epidemiologist and director of animal welfare and protection for the Animal Rescue League of Boston, and the founder of the Hoarding of Animals Research Consortium (HARC).

“We really don’t understand how groups of people, as opposed to individuals acting alone, could ignore suffering and death in a shelter or rescue environment. At least three different types of hoarders have been identified: overwhelmed caregiver, rescue hoarder and exploiter hoarder. It is the latter that is the least likely to have good intentions.””

One final word: any reputable charity will always make measured, logical, precise responses to the public’s concerns. Does your chosen charity answer questions in a suitable detail, or does it make an emotional, threatening, illogical response? Your clue is in the charity’s behaviour.

Always check a charity is registered, how old it is, and the owner/operator’s background may also offer further clues as to its reputation.

How to help animals? Choose transparent shelters; do not buy pedigree breeds when you can adopt animals instead (our area Scottish SPCA rescue is a great place to find a pet). Get your dog or cat neutered. And – be careful where your charity pounds are going.

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Jul 082016
 
OceanWarrior2

Sea Shepherd Global’s New Patrol Vessel.

With thanks to Suzanne Kelly.

Sea Shepherd Global has launched its latest weapon in the battle to protect the world’s oceans; the new patrol vessel, Ocean Warrior.
After 18 months of construction by Dutch shipbuilding company, Damen, Ocean Warrior was lowered into the waters of Antalya Harbour in Turkey last Friday.

“This is a momentous day for Sea Shepherd, and for all of our supporters, and a bad day for poachers,” said CEO of Sea Shepherd Global, Captain Alex Cornelissen.

“The launch of the Ocean Warrior marks a new era for our organisation, as we now have a ship with the speed and capabilities to match the fastest poaching vessels in the world.”

Purchased thanks to the support and generosity of the Dutch Postcode Lottery, the People’s Postcode Lottery in the United Kingdom and the Svenska Postkod Stiftelsen in Sweden, Ocean Warrior is now the fifth vessel in Sea Shepherd Global’s current fleet of conservation ships, and the fifteenth in the organisation’s history.

Geert Vons, Director of Sea Shepherd Netherlands, said,

“We are extremely grateful to the Dutch Postcode Lottery, the People’s Postcode Lottery and the Svenska Postkod Stiftelsen for their generosity, which has enabled us to build the Ocean Warrior. This new vessel will provide our crews with a huge advantage on the high-seas, increasing our capacity to defend precious wildlife in our oceans.”

Ocean Warrior will make its maiden voyage this September, when the ship sails to Amsterdam under the command of Captain Cornelissen. However, details about the ship’s first official anti-poaching campaign remain under-wraps.

“We can not reveal details about the Ocean Warrior’s activities beyond Amsterdam as yet. However, we are confident that our supporters will be very pleased with a campaign announcement that we have coming up in the next few months,” said Cornelissen.

Sea Shepherd were instrumental in protecting wildlife including seals in the Gardenstown area in the past, and continue to be interested and active in North East Scotland.

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