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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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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Oct 212016
 

Suzanne Kelly continues her series on Northfield Animal Haven in New Pitsligo, this time concentrating on contradictory statements made by owner Kelly Cable on NAH’s funding, her benefit fraud conviction, and ultimately and most importantly this article looks at animal welfare concerns.

A mission statement, some sample threats, and advice.

Northfield Animal Haven SignThe purpose of this series of Aberdeen Voice articles was to examine the nature of the Northfield Animal Sanctuary operation, based on people approaching AV with concerns.

Looking at the NAH pages this past year and a half, the operation is unlike any animal welfare organisation I have encountered anywhere else in the UK or the USA.

I have volunteered and donated money, worked on farms, attended lectures on animal welfare, and at present make regular donations to 10 animal charities in the UK.

I mention this as Cable and some of her friends have attempted to link my investigations with my support for other bona fide animal welfare organisations. I am not salaried by any of the human, environmental or animal charities I support, and my investigations are based on the evidence brought to me from a wide range of people.

Collating the host of contradictory statements Kelly Cable made in funding appeals and on social media has been arduous. No doubt this piece will result in Cable and her supporters launching further social media attacks on me. There is no doubt though that the evidence presented in this piece is fact, carefully checked, fully documented. Some of the most damning material about the goings-on at NAH comes from Kelly Cable’s own posts and funding appeals and those made by her friends.

The word ‘attack’ was not used lightly. Many sources have insisted on remaining anonymous fearing reprisals, saying they received threats of physical harm. Threats involving guns and shooting were ‘jokingly’ made against me by Cable’s father Eric [1]. This month a woman named Carrie Anne Greig, posted:

Carrie Anne Greig Honest to fucking god. doesn’t she have a mute button or something?! She’s an absolute idiot, going on about morals and shit, how is it morally right to time after time slander and Harass someone when she has absolutely no idea? She’s never been to your place, never seen the animals, piss all. Someone needs to put her down with that AK47 she was on about.” [2]
https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100009008791129&fref=ts

Aside from the deceptions and animal welfare problems, I have never heard of an animal sanctuary making posts about shooting journalists. Joking or not, the threat of violence against anyone always carries the trace of intimidation. Do honest organisations need to stoop to such tactics when they are investigated?

As to the many contradictory statements Kelly Cable makes – please do contact her to see which statement she made is true and which is false. And please – if you have any doubt as to the credibility, honesty and standards of any charity: do not give it money.

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 [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).

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

This piece will use material collected as part of this investigation to show conclusively:

  • That animal welfare is often compromised leading to animal deaths, injury, suffering and exploitation
  • That the fundraising appeals launched by Cable and her supporters contains misleading stories – the implication is that there may well be an attempt to gain donations by using less than honest prose
  • That fundraising appeals and social media posts by Cable and her friends contain many contradictions as to the nature of the operations, what NAH’s funding mechanisms are, what type of animals are actually rescued or sold, and whether or not animals will be put to sleep – this obfuscation makes it difficult to get to the truth: is that the intention, or is Kelly Cable perhaps so confused and unwell she cannot recall what she is telling people from one day to the next – if there is confusion, then are the 170 animals best looked after by her
  • That Kelly has made and continues to make false assertions as to Police Scotland or legal entities having contacted and warned Aberdeen Voice about these articles; no such contact has ever happened – the implication is that lies are being used to attempt to discredit the facts as presented in Aberdeen Voice.

The most important things though are the welfare of people using her animal assisted therapy, the fact that people have been defrauded out of thousands of pounds (both in loans made and not repaid and those who believe their donations save farm animals ensuring animal welfare) and top of these concerns is the welfare of these 170 animals.

Cable and Finances:

While constantly pleading poverty, Kelly keeps buying and adopting more animals – clearly by her own admission, more animals than she can safely manage (she, her father and 17 horses were injured while she and her father tried to transport them [13], and it is claimed she lives in substandard housing as she has so little money).

With one breath she will write that no animal will be put to sleep [14.1]; then she launches fundraising appeals threatening to have animals killed (not adopted by other area shelters) if she doesn’t get money [14.2-4]. In one social media post she will talk about her ‘babies’ and in other posts we find instances that these ‘babies’ have been improperly fed, transported, sold, injured – and died in questionable circumstances.

She and her supporters would have us believe she is a veritable Mother Teresa of animal welfare, denying herself basic comforts and although disabled, she cares for over 170 animals. In the course of the investigation a different picture emerges.

We have a woman who has two convictions for benefit fraud, who has borrowed money from people without ever repaying it, including £5,000 from her then partner’s parents and grandparents – claiming that her signature on the loan agreement was a forgery.

This claim was debunked by a handwriting analyst as part of court proceedings.

We have a woman who went on the internet, copied photos of animals that had absolutely nothing to do with her or NAH, and used the images saying that she needed funds to save the animals pictured. Cable sells animals while asking for money for saving other animals; it is often unclear from her advertising (signs, online fundraising appeals) what animals are actually to be saved or sold for slaughter; she recently posted a picture of a sheep and said it was the first sheep ever to be adopted in the sanctuary.

She’s used photos of sheep and depicts them on older material asking for funds to save them – she sells them for meat, and disowns any responsibility for what happens to animals she sold. Members of the Cable family have made threats against me and others.

Kelly has told people, including her former social media administrator Fiona Manclark that she uses cannabis for her disability, telling some people she has fibromyalgia. Other witnesses, understandably keen to remain anonymous, have told Aberdeen Voice that cannabis is used by Kelly and others while at the farm – and is sold from the farm as well.

In summary, this is not your typical animal rescue, and anyone wishing to donate money to help animals should be aware of these documented facts. Please read the reference document accompanying this article for proof of assertions made.

In a perfect world, Cable would ensure that all animals are properly cared for – in her own words as will be shown this is not the case.

Kelly once posted on social media that ‘everyone’ knows how she operates. Hopefully after this series of articles that will be true.

99 Problems:

As described in previous articles, visitors to her farm are greeted with a sign depicting animals of all sorts, with the words ‘rescue rehabilitate retire rehome for all equine, farm and small animals. This sign is illustrated with images of a pig, fowl, poultry, sheep and cattle. In effect, visitors have been misled before they even get out of their car:

Kelly Cable does not rescue all the animals she has at the farm. The cuddly sheep she has used in fundraising appeals are sold, slaughter being the likely outcome of their visit to Thainstone Market. There is not a single reputable, above-board animal rescue organisation in Scotland Aberdeen Voice can find that claims to save ‘all farm animals’ while raising some commercially.

It is not only the fate of the animals that Kelly sends to slaughter that is at stake. Chicks less than two weeks old have been sold and then re-sold to uncertain fates.

All animals eventually die, but at Northfield horses can die from cold weather [15], and ‘of a broken heart [16]’. A lamb was overfed – and died [17]. A sheep destined for sale was given a reprieve after it lambed – the hapless Kelly had no idea the lamb was expected [18]. Perhaps being disabled and running (according to some posts singlehandedly) a ‘working’ farm and a ‘haven’ is too much.

Aberdeen Voice is in receipt of some harrowing witness statements such as that of a dog killing poultry. A dog was hit after killing poultry; a bird with a broken leg went untreated. Unsurprisingly, the people who witnessed such acts are keen not to be identified. Kelly recently posted that she knows everyone who has contributed to these stories.

This in itself is a message of intimidation to those who have been threatened by members of her family, but it is an indictment of a ‘haven’ where numerous people have come forward with serious concerns. However, the most damning words about what happens to these ‘babies’ as Cable and her acolytes call the animals comes from Kelly herself.

Dead horses:

Horses die. They tend to do less of it however when given sufficient diet, care, shoeing and shelter from weather.

Many of the NAH rescue appeals follow a pattern. There is an urgent need for rescue funds or the animals will be turned into meat. This was true of the ‘Shetland 6’ ponies and for ‘Lucy’ and her foal ‘Sally’.

Now using such a manipulative tactic on a kind-hearted public is still manipulation, but it is understandable if coming from an organisation that only rescues animals. How is it possible for Northfield to sell animals for meat – pigs, lambs, poultry – but then pretend to be upset that these ponies that it (and often only it) can rescue if the public stump up funds urgently? If following how one farm can want to save its animals while sending its animals to slaughter is hard to fathom, the pretence that NAH is upset at the idea of an animal becoming food defies any kind of logic.

Here is the first part of the Go Fund Me appeal for ‘saving’ Lucy and ‘Sally’ https://www.gofundme.com/6u3mgs

The appeal for these two horses was 32 months ago; it raised £727. Perhaps a swift end at the abbatoir might have been kinder. After being rescued – Lucy died at Northfield – because it was cold and there was no room in the stable for the ancient horse. Kelly Cable wrote:

“Due to the stables situation I couldn’t take her in and it was very cold -6 that night. Please donate and help me rebuild our stables before we lose any more otherwise I will have no option but to close ….” [15]

What was done to get this horse somewhere where it would have been warm to keep it alive?

‘Babies?’ – Neglect, Sales and Abuse.

This is a post Kelly made of a lamb called Roddy which had collapsed from over eating and a joking comment ‘ha ha’ from Kelly – who’d allowed orphaned lambs to overeat – hardly good practice.

Figure [17] shows her post about an orphaned lamb which died from ‘bloat’ due to her lack of care; what did happen to the ewe I wonder? It seems as if for Cable and her devoted supporters it is sufficient to cuddle and groom cute animals; the serious business of animal welfare is glossed over or joked about, like the over-fed lamb Roddy. This does not happen at other rescues.

If money is always in such scare supply, a lamb dying of overfeeding, this overfed animal, and a diet for some pot-bellied pigs they took in (after NAH got them, one was put to sleep due to arthritis – diet to reduce the weight of these animals might have helped extend the animal’s life).

One sheep was given a reprieve from market as she lambed the night before being sent away. Not knowing your animals are pregnant is not brilliant animal husbandry. Kelly’s words explain this lamb was going to be sold to keep the sanctuary going. If killing one animal for money is how NAH avoids killing another animal then NAH is not a rescue.

There are many other instances of reasons to be concerned about what happens when the cameras aren’t taking pictures of cute animals being hugged. These instances, backed as they are by Kelly Cable’s own words in most instances, should be all the evidence any right-thinking person needs to know there are serious problems.

On Animals Being Putting Animals To Sleep if NAH doesn’t get money:

Perhaps she would never needlessly put animals to sleep. Perhaps the overweight potbellied pig she had put to sleep could not possibly have benefitted from a diet and painkillers. Obviously no one is calling the attendant veterinarians’ judgements into question; what is undeniable is that when Kelly is after money – she will use the threat of putting animals to sleep in her advertisements. [14.2-4]

In the Go Fund Me campaign at [14.2] Kelly ‘prays for a saviour’ so that she won’t have to close, implying it would be kinder to put the animals to sleep. Other animal shelters could easily help with taking animals she can’t manage to care for properly. The language lapses in and out of grammatical ambiguities such as:

“…I will have no choice [no choice to do what?] as it wouldn’t be right to allow them to suffer to the end [is she suggesting that neglect to the end was ever an option?] it would be much kinder to pts which is so unfair of them [who is them?] we have already lost one because of the weather [is she taking more animals than she can successfully care for and shelter? – it seems the case] and a few others are already losing weight [this is neglect – I do not know how else it can be seen]”

Is she just so emotionally over-wrought she can’t write straight; is she not well educated – or is the ambiguity deliberate so as she cannot be pinned down? Again she implies there is a time threat to her getting funds – a device she has used before – the message is clear despite the language – animals will be put to sleep by January unless she gets money.

So much for the claim she made on Facebook that:

“One thing I am sick of seeing is this thing about my animals getting pts, sorry wrong there, that will never happen xxxx”

If there is any doubt about this mechanic of saying there is a time deadline and animals are in danger of being put to sleep, there are other appeals she’s launched along those lines. One such was the ‘Shetland Six’ appeal. This is the time she used photos of a pony in Wales and another in the Shetlands which were in no danger. The Welsh Lluest Trust wrote to Aberdeen Voice:

“We can confirm that we have never had any contact with Northfield Animal Haven and have not given any permission for a photograph of one of our rescue ponies to be used. This pony was rescued by us in early 2014 and successfully moved into a loving loan home later on that year after several months of intensive treatment and rehabilitation at Lluest. We can confirm that the pony continues to live a happy and contented life in his new home and has never had any contact with Northfield Animal Haven.”

Potential donors were led to believe the animals were owned by a person who would not let any other animal sanctuary have them except NAH – and was going to kill them for meat if Kelly couldn’t get funds for them. The six eventually became four animals, their names and appearances changed from the photos initially used.

Again, please do refer to the reference document accompanying this article for screenshots, quotes and evidence. It is hoped that at the end of this article and its references, a clear portrait has emerged as to why it is important to animals and potential donors to scrutinize the goings on at Northfield Animal ‘Haven’.

The next article – probably the last in this series – will look at social media posts made by Kelly and her supporters on a wide range of issues, contradictory claims made, and attempts to discredit Aberdeen Voice and witnesses, and to make recommendations.

Note: Kelly Cable was invited by Aberdeen Voice to respond to the numerous issues raised above, and in the supporting document, and have her views included and accurately represented. Kelly did not respond directly, but posted on her facebook page:

“To Fred Wilkinson, Suzanne Kelly and The Aberdeen Voice.

“Up to this point all that has been printed by yourselves has been hearsay from others. Would you also like permission to speak with my doctor ?. If our vets choose to speak with you, that is up to them but I think you will be met with the same response as you got from the local shopkeeper when you called him last year.

“I stand by everything I have said with regards to what you have printed, I will not retract nor apologise for anything that has been said, just like everyone is meant to believe what has already been published by yourselves and your followers. Your followers and staff find it perfectly acceptable to contact people about me, slander the rescue and my name over various blogs and sites and to ridicule others because they disagree with you so I will not answer any questions for your forthcoming article as I refuse to continue to play your games.”
 – https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=1655556561421288&id=100009008791129&pnref=story 

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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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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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Jan 212016
 

Sea Shepherd Operation Icefish2With thanks to Michelle Mossfield, Media Director, Sea Shepherd Global

Sea Shepherd’s Flagship, the Steve Irwin, has departed Fremantle, Western Australia for the Southern Ocean. The ship’s departure marks the official commencement of the organization’s 12th Southern Ocean Defense Campaign, Operation Icefish 2015-16.

Led by returning Captain, Siddharth Chakravarty, Sea Shepherd will once again defend the pristine waters of Antarctica from poachers, with the aim to shutdown illegal activities in what is the world’s last great wilderness.

Sea Shepherd will employ direct-action techniques to fill a law enforcement void that continues to be exploited by the Japanese whale poaching fleet and the two remaining illegal toothfish vessels, Viking and Kunlun (Taishan), which continue to threaten the survival of the fragile and wild Antarctic ecosystem.

Captain Chakravarty commented:

“The Steve Irwin will be the only proactive enforcement presence in Antarctica once again this year. The shadowlands of Antarctica are under threat and we are the only form of protection to the marine wildlife in these unregulated regions. Other than offering direct and immediate protection to the oceans, we intend to investigate and document the illegalities and work with law-enforcement agencies, once again, to aid and close out existing investigations worldwide,”

As Captain Chakravarty and the crew of the Steve Irwin depart for the Southern Ocean, Sea Shepherd has called on the governments who are responsible for upholding the laws that protect the Southern Ocean to intervene against these poaching operations.

“Sea Shepherd should not be left to defend Antarctica alone,” said Captain Alex Cornelissen, CEO of Sea Shepherd Global.

“For the last 13 years our ships and crews have shone an international spotlight on both the illegal whaling and more recently on the illegal toothfish operations. Now it’s time for governments to step-up and take serious action to address the issue of poaching in the Southern Ocean.”

Managing Director of Sea Shepherd Australia, Jeff Hansen, said,

“Sea Shepherd needs reinforcements. 76.9% of Australians want the Australian government to send a vessel to oppose the Japanese whale poaching fleet. Australia has been commended for taking Japan to the ICJ, but now the government needs to take responsibility for enforcement by sending a ship to oppose the whale poachers.”

Sea Shepherd Global:

Established in 1977, Sea Shepherd is an international non-profit, marine wildlife conservation organization. Our mission is to end the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife in the world’s oceans in order to conserve and protect ecosystems and species.

Sea Shepherd uses innovative direct-action tactics to investigate, document, and take action when necessary to expose and confront illegal activities on the high seas. By safeguarding the biodiversity of our delicately balanced ocean ecosystems, Sea Shepherd works to ensure their survival for future generations. For more information, visit: http://www.seashepherdglobal.org/

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