Sea Otter (Enhydra lutris nereis) at Moss Landing, California. April 26th 2012
Photograph by Lucy-Ann Huskisson
During her university studies Lucy-Ann was able to take an exchange visit and study in California. This gave her a great opportunity to see the local wildlife and meet those who care for it. Above is a photograph that she took of a delightful sea otter. These creatures that were hunted to near extinction for their fur are now suffering in other ways at the hands of man. There are groups working to help them, most notably: Friends of the Sea Otter (www.seaotters.org). They would welcome your support.
The latest rise in postage making a second class letter 50p has caused us to rethink how we communicate with supporters. Since June 1989 we have been mailing ACIG supporters twice a year. We have been doing the same to Animal Welfare Information Service supporters since May 1995. Supporters of both groups receive four mailings a year. In addition to the postage costs there is the cost of printing, envelopes and mailing labels. It costs some £2000 a year to post our literature. There is also the length of time it takes to stuff the envelopes, label them and stamp them. The use of paper also means a significant cost to the environment.
There is an alternative way to communicate with supporters – namely by e-mail. For some years now we have asked supporters for their e-mail addresses. E-mail contact has allowed us to communicate quickly with supporters and we have used that facility with our “Action for Compassion” e-mail circulars calling on supporters to participate in particular campaigns. This has proved effective. For some time now some supporters have also asked to receive their News Bulletins by e-mail and we have been pleased to oblige. Sending bulletins by e-mail save us time and money and gives the benefit to the supporter of receiving all News Bulletins with colour photographs (except where the original was black and white) and they receive them quicker and with more certainty (none are “lost in the post”).
This latest rise in postage is the last straw. We are in e-mail contact with hundreds of supporters and we contacted them asking their thoughts about receiving all future mailings. Many have replied and to date everyone is in agreement. Supporters recognise that the money and time saved here could be better spent on our valuable education and campaigning work. There is a slight downside in that there always appears to be a loss of income associated with internet requests as opposed to direct mailings of paper appeals. Somehow it is easier to respond to something held in your hand rather than read on the computer screen. However that is a challenge that we seek to overcome by making our future internet appeals all the more imaginative!!
The way forward for your contact with your AWIS and ACIG is as follows:-
1). IF YOU USE THE E-MAIL SYSTEM THE FOLLOWING APPLIES TO YOU: have you sent us your current preferred e-mail address? If you would like to receive future mailings by e-mail please be sure that you have sent us your current e-mail address. If you are in e-mail contact with us but would still like to receive your mailings through the post please tell us, otherwise we will e-mail them to you.
2). IF YOU DO NOT USE THE E-MAIL SYSTEM NOR HAVE ANY EASY ACCESS TO IT THE FOLLOWING APPLIES TO YOU: if you have sent either the ACIG or the AWIS any donation or any communication within the last two years you do not have to do anything – we will continue to mail to you by post. If we have heard nothing from you for over two years and we are not in e-mail contact with you please contact us now by post or by phone or we will very reluctantly have to delete your mailing card and you will hear nothing further from us. We need your continued support and as a final effort to retain it we will try to phone you if we can. If all our efforts fail sadly we will lose contact.
Over the many years of our successful campaigning we have accumulated a number of shall we say “redundant” addresses. After most mailings we get a few irate phone calls along the lines: “Don’t you realise that this person moved away four years ago!” We politely reply that no we did not realise that, if we had, we would have stopped mailing! Because we receive some anonymous donations, say a £20 note sent in with an unidentifiable supporter form, we have not been able to simply delete the mailing cards of supporters that we have not heard from for years. The anonymous donor could be one of those. Updating our mailing list so that we e-mail as many as possible and only post to supporters, not to empty houses or old addresses, has been put off for too long. The time for this essential action is now.
Thank you for your patience and for your help with this. It will make our operating systems much more efficient and effective. In the short term we expect to see a dual mailing system as some supporters receive mailings by e-mail whilst others receive their mailings through the post. In time the proportions will change as more and more are able to access e-mail.
3). Internet and Facebook users please send me a Facebook friend request. We put many images on my Facebook page and use it for campaigning purposes. We have just used another photograph of sea otters with this caption: “A message to the dominant species - from the others who share this planet When you wake up, reflect on this with sorrow, for your today, you have stolen our tomorrow.”
The ACIG has volunteers up and down the country who regularly monitor hunts. This can on occasion be dangerous and distressing work. Earlier this year I was pleased to send a small donation towards petrol and camera costs to our supporter Judi Hewitt who has been courageously monitoring her local hunts in North Wales. I asked her to send us a short write up about the work she does to give other supporters an idea about this valuable work. Here is her report:-
“SAFEGUARDING OUR WILDLIFE
I monitor hunts as often as I can - occasionally with outside help. Monitoring is not easy - it is something I would rather not be doing. Gathering evidence that could get a hunt into court is about being in the right place at the right time. Filming the cruelty is something I dread, but feel compelled to do. I witnessed a cruel kill back in 2002 and it has haunted me ever since.
My campaign for foxes goes back to the early nineties when I witnessed a gun pack in operation. It was Boxing Day and we just wanted to take a lovely afternoon walk through the wood at Llanfair Talhaiarn. As soon as we arrived we found the wood surrounded by men with guns. The sound of fox hounds baying echoing through the wood. It felt like a knife had been plunged into my heart. You see, the previous summer we had been walking this wood at sunset and had startled a vixen and her two cubs - they were sat either side of her enjoying the last rays of the evening sun. Upon seeing us the vixen gave a soft bark and fled back up into the trees, her cubs running alongside.
My instinct to protect these vulnerable creatures came from this chance meeting - so when we were warned by these shooter/terrier-men to keep out of the wood, my anguish boiled over, but all I could do was tell them how low I thought they were - all the while feeling their guns on our backs as we made our way through the trees. Later on that afternoon we saw the hound van arrive and just when we thought it was all over we heard the excited sound of men and dogs - they were digging out a fox. I just remember feeling so helpless, I just screamed, I lost my voice for week. It was this sordid cruelty that led to my getting involved in the campaign against fox hunting.
But getting back to the mounted hunt, I doubt I will ever understand the mindset of a hunt follower - to me, they are even worse than the riders - following a hunt to watch them torment an animal to death is truly sick, to me it is base voyeurism.
Here in North Wales, foxes are still suffering this hunt brutality - the ban has done little to stop their suffering so someone has to be there for them. I'm told that gun packs are still operating in more remote parts of Wales but I am yet to come across one so I suppose the ban has at least stopped some of these 'mainly' farmer gangs.
There are times during a hunt when I have found myself trembling so much I am unable to keep my binoculars/camera steady, but it is not fear for myself, it is fear that I might be about to witness a terrified fox being ripped apart, or dug out. Yes, terrier-work is still a big part of the hunt here. Like many other monitors across the UK I get sick of being fobbed off by the police. They appear happy to accept the word of the hunt, that they are just drag hunting. Perhaps if they got out of their comfortable offices to monitor the hunt themselves they would find overwhelming evidence to the contrary. The fact that hunts take hounds into coverts where riders cannot possibly follow is an indication that something under-hand is happening. The fact they are often accompanied by terrier-men on quad-bikes complete with terrier-boxes is surely proof that foxes are being hunted and cruelly dug out. But when the police call to see the Hunt Master and are taken on a tour of the kennels and appear impressed by the condition of the hounds, not to mention the Hunt Masters knowledge of the Hunting Act, well, it makes one feel let down.
Having last season seen a fox chased by hounds through a steep, muddy covert is proof enough for me that some are still fox hunting but because I failed to get the fox on camera - it jumped into view unexpectedly, and was gone in a flash - makes me feel that the police view my accusations with suspicion.
Even when I get photographic proof that some supporters riding quad bikes at hunts are breaking the licence laws I am told that the hunt has now been warned. If I drove my car without plates and insurance I would be prosecuted and fined heavily, not warned! But then there does appear to be one law for the hunt and another for the likes of you and me.
As a hunt monitor I am aware of how much the hunt and their supporters despise us - some years ago I had threatening telephone messages from five hunt supporters and recently a green Land Rover turned up at my address and the occupant took a picture of my home. Sniggers and verbal abuse are to be expected when I go out monitoring, they come with the territory. My pain is for the hunted animal - sticks and stones and all that!
Thankfully I now have two companions to help me monitor this hunt. Monitoring on my own was lonely and I felt vulnerable at times but the welfare of the fox was always forefront in my mind.
I guess I am speaking for all other monitors when I say: defending foxes from gratuitous cruelty is what drives us on and it is that determination and true grit that will defeat our wildlife's evil executioners in the end.” JUDI HEWITT
BLOODSPORTS FEATURE ARTICLE
Lucy-Ann has just completed her final year studies at University. She was asked to conduct interviews and write a feature article on a topical subject. She chose a topic that she has heard a lot about, and of course, as required of a good journalist, interviewed both sides. Here is her article:-
Where do we stand on hunting animals for sport?
-Hunting is one issue guaranteed to raise hackles and generate strong opinions. Some eight years since the controversial Act to ban hunting was passed, what effects are now being seen?
Hunting wild mammals with dogs was made illegal by the 2004 Hunting Act which took effect in 2005. It was an Act that saw politicians and campaigners fighting night and day for their sides, and even when the House of Commons and the majority of the public supported the ban, the House of Lords still refused to pass the law. This resulted in the House of Commons instigating the Parliament Act, as Chris Williamson, Labour MP for Derby North, explains: “the 2004 Bill took the application of the Parliament Act to force it through, because, in spite of the will of the vast majority of the British public, and despite the overwhelming support of the House of Commons; the House of Lords were continuing to frustrate the will of Parliament and the will of the people”. This made the Hunting Act only the 7th piece of legislation to by-pass the House of Lords.
This meant that hunting with packs of hounds, so often associated with the English Countryside, and hare coursing became illegal. The Act met vast waves of controversy, but eight years on it is interesting to reflect on where we stand on the Hunting Act now.
The Hunting Act has meant different things to different people, whether it has affected their lifestyle, career or general day to day life. Since the 2004 Act passed, ideas concerning hunting have generally grown quieter and fallen from public view. Yet, especially to those who fought so hard for or against the Act, the notion of hunting has not altogether disappeared.
As former Chair of the League Against Cruel Sports (LACS), one organization supporting the Hunting Act, Mr. Williamson suggested the Act not only symbolized a step forward in animal welfare, but also something far greater. “It's a hugely civilizing piece of legislation... I think it makes a statement about the sort of country that we are; it actually criminalises an activity that sees people gaining pleasure and entertainment from, basically, persecuting and chasing wild animals simply for entertainment.”
However, views on the Act aren't as positive from opponents. Simon Hart, Conservative MP for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire, is former Chief Executive of the Countryside Alliance, the key organization that fought against the Hunting Act. “I opposed its creation and I opposed it in every stage... of its process through Parliament, its various different bills and indeed the final bill which came into effect in 05”. Following the passing of the law, it became a matter for hunt supporters to attempt to limit the impacts of the Act as far as possible.
One of the main criticisms from Mr. Hart is that, in his opinion, the Act didn't really achieve anything. “People who think the Hunting Act signalled an end to wildlife being controlled by the use of hunting were mistaken. It is still possible to go out and use dogs, hounds, guns and everything else in order to pursue and control wildlife”. One difficulty with the legislation was the exemptions it included, which involved pest control and falconry. These made it unclear which aspects of hunting were illegal. “Anybody who thinks that there was this massive sort of alteration back in 2005 to what was going on, needs to get out there and actually see, because it isn't like that”.
This is one key reason why Mr. Hart suggests the Act should be repealed. “It's one of those unique bits of legislation that occasionally gets passed [in Parliament] where nobody is a winner: opponents of hunting, supporters of hunting, police and onlookers and indeed wildlife. Nobody gains as a result of the Hunting Act”.
Alternatively, Mr. Williamson explains that whilst, as with any legislation, there could be improvements, the Act has essentially achieved its aims. “It's a huge leap forwards in animal protection because it has effectively saved countless numbers of foxes and other quarry species from being chased to death”.
Maybe the issues now are less to do with the Act itself, and more its enforcement. If this is the case then, as suggested by Baroness Smith, former Labour MP for Basildon and before that Political Officer at the LACS, law breaking alone should never be reason for repeal. “Every law that gets passed gets broken... that's the reason that we have laws, so that if people break them you can take action against them.”
Equally, this could be seen as a reason in favour of the Act, as most people would be apprehensive about participating in illegal activity. “It modifies behaviour, most people don't do things because they are against the law, but if they do they should be punished... My sort of informed speculation is that fewer people will try and break the law the longer that the Hunting Act is active”. This is especially the case in modern society where criminal records impact on everything from visa applications to future employment. As Baroness Smith continued, “it is a pretty significant issue to get a criminal conviction because you have been hunting, it doesn't look good on your CV!”
Whilst this idea may be good in theory, when it comes to enforcement it gets harder. PC Chris Sadler, stationed at Southwold in Suffolk, is an experienced Wildlife Crime Officer. He explains that one problem with prosecutions for illegal Hunting is that it is one of the few criminal activities typically unconnected to any other illegal activity. “With fox hunting it is your average guy that's indulging in a sport, [where] in every other respect he or she are law-abiding citizens, and that presents us with a bit of a problem. You can't exactly label them as criminals”.
Also, there is the problem of discerning what is and isn't illegal. According to Mr. Hart “unquestionably there is this very grey area, and if you went and observed a hunt in a field, in many respects it looks and sounds like it did before the ban”. This is because whilst the Act bans the hunting of wild animals with dogs, hunting itself, without hunting wild animals, is legal. This is done either through laying a scent trail which hounds follow, known as drag-hunting, or through using bloodhounds which trail human scent; both of which can look the same as traditional hunting.
Then there are claims of accidental hunting, where an animal will get chased by dogs whilst participating in legal forms of the sport. As Mr. Hart explains, “when you take out large numbers of people, hounds, horses, dogs and what have you into areas which are heavily populated by foxes and hares, from time to time dogs do what dogs will do: they will chase one as a dog will in a park after a squirrel.” Does this constitute breaking the law? According to PC Sadler, it often does, and the idea of accidental hunting can be a way of evading the law. “It's all a load of tosh. Of course they're fox hunting, but we have a legal battle on our hands when we try and prove that point because they'll use every legal device there is to try and prevent themselves from being convicted”.
Given the difficulties involved with enforcing the Act, the public have a role to play. The police can't always be everywhere in the countryside, and it therefore comes down to the public to help by calling the authorities when spotting illegal activities in the countryside. As Mr. Williamson states, “in that sense we are already starting to see [that] the Act will be policed by ordinary members of the public”, and it would seem that, especially for supporters of the Act that wish to see the legislation maintained, there is still work to be done.
One section of the Hunting Act better suited to public monitoring concerns hare coursing. As PC Sadler explains, “hare coursers tend to come in a motor car from great distances away and they'll want to have their cars with them so that they can get away should the police arrive upon the scene or should they be challenged by somebody... they've got to have a road nearby which limits their theatre of activities”. Due to this typical proximity to roads, passers-by can see such illegal activities and call the police.
The same can't be said for hunting with packs of dogs, as PC Sadler continued, “once they're out in the countryside they're on their horses, they're going along the bridleways or on the fields, and they're not necessarily having to worry about the roads. So it's easier for the police to apprehend people hare coursing than it is fox hunting or hunting hares with horses and dogs”. Essentially, whilst some sections of the Act are easier to police than others, help from the public would be beneficial.
Hunting has always drawn passionate responses, but now eight years on what importance does the Hunting Act hold to people today? In the run up to the 2004 Act being passed, protesters against the ban stormed Parliament disrupting proceedings and organised marches and rallies. Before that, those that worked to get the Act into the public minds embarked on nationwide media campaigns focused on getting the issue into political agendas. Yet now, with the economic climate causing havoc for many, is the issue of hunting wild mammals still of great importance?
According to Mr. Hart, perhaps it never was; “It was a big concern for those people that were passionately in favour and it was a big concern for those people that were passionately against, but taken across the whole nation that's a relatively small number.” This could be said for many laws; typically only those that feel strongly on a matter campaign for or against it. As Mr. Hart continued, “literally you're talking about fringes of the voting public and if you took a snapshot of voters anywhere in the UK and you measured their views on hunting, [it] was always pretty low down the list if indeed it was on the list as all”.
This opinion was echoed by PC Sadler, who explained that one problem with enforcing the Hunting Act was that there are more pressing issues for the public. “People have a wish list; they don't want to see foxes hunted but they have other wish lists as well. They want their children well educated, they want the streets clean and tidy.” It is an issue of resources, and, especially with recent police cut-backs, these are in short supply. “If there's a fox hunt in the afternoon, where do you take the police officers from? We haven't got a box in the corner of the room where we can just pluck another police officer from. We've got to take them from some other thing that they would be doing, and that's not good”.
PC Sadler suggested that given the choice of policing a hunt or not if that harmed their ability to police the streets at night, then it would be a matter of prioritising. “I would imagine that the majority of the public would say that your priority is the night time economy and less so fox hunting... we do not have the resources to do absolutely everything”.
Baroness Smith agreed that whilst the Act pleased many, in current times it isn't of great concern. “I think that most people don't even think about it anymore, [now] the law's been passed. They want to see the law enforced but it's not something that goes [in]to their everyday lives any more”. There seems to be a consensus that whilst the Hunting Act was once important, since the legislation has passed it has fallen to the backs of peoples’ minds. “I can't remember the last time I had a letter on hunting. When I was in the Commons you'd occasionally get one, but there was a time when that was the biggest issue in my post bag. Now I think people are happy with the law as it is”.
The future of the Hunting Act is uncertain. With the Coalition manifesto promising Parliamentary time to revisit the Act, we could see changes, and exactly what comes next divides opinions. Mr. Williamson feels confident that the Act will only get stronger, saying “we're becoming more accepting and tolerant of society and each other and less tolerant, I think, of unfairness and of cruelty... I'm very confident that we'll see better and stronger legislation coming through that will introduce stronger protections for wildlife”. The next step, in Mr. Williamson's opinion, will be looking at shooting: “in some ways I'm even more optimistic about that because one, I think we've got the animal welfare issue, but I also think that people are very uncomfortable about people having access to guns... I think that the public are well ahead of political opinion on this at the moment”.
However, according to Mr. Hart, whilst he is uncertain when, the Act will be addressed again. “The Coalition agreement commits to a vote in the lifetime of this Parliament. That vote, if it happens, will dictate the way in which the Government goes forward, whether it will go for a full scale repeal Bill, do nothing at all, or indeed something in-between.” Essentially, the Act seems to be at the back of most peoples’ minds now, but could be brought back into the public eye. As he continued, “this is unfinished business [and] I am certain there is sufficient momentum behind the move to revisit this”
Yet Baroness Smith suggests, despite manifesto promises, now is not the time to raise the issue. “When you've got this latest stuff; the Budget that was seen to help the rich, the tax on hot food which [hurts] the poorer people who are out working during the day and need to get something hot to eat...all those sort of things have been playing to the sort of wealthy elite”. Therefore, given the general association between fox hunting and wealthy countryside dwellers, raising this issue now would only add to this idea of the government attending only to the needs of the elite minority. “I think if the Prime Minister was to try and bring back fox hunting at [this] time, that's how it would be perceived”.
But given all the controversy, difficulties of enforcement, and resource issues, does that make the Hunting Act a bad legislation? “It irritates me when people are saying it's a bad law, but it's not...” says PC Sadler. “It's not badly drafted at all, it's very clear cut. You can't hunt wild mammals with dogs. It's pretty simple stuff really; you can't steal something that doesn't belong to you, you can't smoke cannabis, you can't hunt wild mammals with dogs”. And whether this changes in the future or not, that is the way the law stands at present. Lucy-Ann Huskisson 2012
With ACIG investigators and supporters up and down our country working hard to expose, prosecute and end illegal hunting there is another area in which we can all work to restrict the hunts. We can strive to ban potentially illegal hunting from as much land as possible. Joe Hashman has supported our work for many years. A courageous hunt saboteur and hunt monitor he did more than most to finish the barbaric and violent New Forest Buckhounds. He has turned his hand to authorship with a series of well received green gardening books. His latest project is outlined below. I am pleased to recommend this idea. Every acre of land banned to the hunt and effectively enforced will keep the hunt away from far more than that acre, because they can never be certain of controlling their hounds. Over to Joe:-
Hounds Off encourages the creation of hunt-free sanctuaries to stop the illegal hunting of wild animals with dogs in Britain. The public face of Hounds Off is our website, www.houndsoff.co.uk . By following the simple process explained there, involving Warning Off notices being sent to the hunters, Hounds Off is spearheading a campaign which invites everyone to join in regardless of who you are or where you live.
Since September 2011, almost 500 acres of land are known to have been made out of bounds to bloodsports, affecting 34 Hunts nationwide. In reality the figure could be far higher because we have no system for monitoring Warning Off emails and letters sent by individuals. Hounds Off encourages autonomous action. We deliberately make no demands regarding feedback or membership.
Following 26 complaints regarding Hunt trespass, Hounds Off offered practical advice and support in warning Hunts off land in twelve different counties, including:
Hounds Off is supported by individuals and organisations from across the campaigning and political spectrum. Please visit our website. Take action. Tell your family and friends to do the same. Support the Hunting Ban. Support Hounds Off. Be part of the people’s campaign against bloodsports.
www.houndsoff.co.uk Email: email@example.com Joe Hashman, July 2012
On January 16th I was delighted to give a talk about bloodsports to a combined class of about 50 10 to 11-year-old pupils at St. Andrew’s Primary School, Soham. I gave a similar talk to a school in Sutton, Bedfordshire on June 21st and on July 3rd I spoke at the SEAR meeting in Croydon. I really enjoy giving these talks so please contact us if you hear of anyone seeking a speaker.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
You are welcome to quote anything in our literature in letters to the media or to politicians.
You will see from our financial report that last year was very difficult. It is perhaps no surprise that in these times of financial austerity our income has fallen. We have had to draw deeply on reserves but thankfully we have that money. Your continued support for our work is really appreciated. Thank you.
VALUABLES THAT CAN BE SOLD
We regularly do car boot sales to raise funds for our work and would greatly appreciate anything saleable that you can send us or that I can collect. We are also booking campaigning stalls at animal welfare events and have just booked to be at the following: Saturday 25th August: Animal welfare event at Uckfield, East Sussex; Saturday 1st September: Wildlife Rocks event at Guildford Cathedral; Sunday 2nd December: Animal Aid's Christmas Fayre at Kensington Town Hall. It would be lovely to meet up with any supporters at these events.
SHARES IN COMPASSION
To help fund our education work please consider taking up a “share” in support of the Animal Welfare Information Service. Each share is a standing order of £1 a month or £12 a year. Please complete the necessary box on the supporter form and I will send you the mandate.
You have seen after many years of ACIG successes that we have a proven ability to win for animals. For anyone considering remembering the vital investigation work of the ACIG in their will, to enable us to continue to achieve, I respectfully suggest using the following form of bequest:
“I bequeath unto the Animal Cruelty Investigation Group of P.O. Box 8, Halesworth, Suffolk,
IP19 0JL, the sum of ............................. free of tax and I direct that the receipt of an authorised officer of the group shall be a good and sufficient discharge of such legacy.”
Neither the ACIG nor its sister group, the AWIS, is a charity. We have given a lot of thought to and taken legal advice on making one or other, or perhaps both, of these groups a charity but as yet we have not done so. Whilst many animal rescue centres are charities most of the large campaigning animal welfare groups are not. Like them we are at present unwilling to restrict our campaigning activities which would be the inevitable result of taking on charitable status. Please do not allow your solicitor to discourage you from leaving your money to whomsoever you wish, whether they are a charity or not.
Tragically, far too many people working for animals have suffered appallingly at the hands of the abusers. Several have paid the ultimate price. They will never be forgotten. The memory of their sacrifice should inspire us all to do much more for the cause that we know to be just. ALL who give their lives for animals are remembered but we do particularly recall the following whose lives were taken by our opponents:-
James Piper, RSPCA Inspector : Died in 1838 after sustaining severe injuries tackling cockfighters at Hanworth, Middlesex.
William Sweet, LACS member : Murdered 6/1/1976 after altercation with man shooting birds. Assailant was jailed for life but has long been released.
Fernando Pereira, Greenpeace photographer : Murdered 10/7/1985 by the French Secret Service when the vessel “Rainbow Warrior” was sunk by two explosions, Auckland Harbour, New Zealand.
Michael Hill, Hunt Saboteur : Killed 9/2/1991 protesting against hare hunting at the Cheshire Beagles.
Thomas Worby, Hunt Saboteur : Killed 3/4/1993 protesting against fox hunting at the Cambridgeshire Foxhounds.
Jill Phipps, Animal Rights Activist : Killed 1/2/1995 protesting against live exports of farm animals, Coventry Airport.
Paola Quartini, animal activist for LIPU (Italian League for Bird Protection - UK) from Genoa, Italy and Elvio Fichera, a volunteer for the Association of Abandoned Animals : Both were murdered 12/5/2010 whilst trying, with police, to serve a warrant on Renzo Castagnola for cruelty to animals. Renzo Castagnola shot them dead, then injured his wife, then killed himself.
Tough financial times make it tough for animals and the environment. Animals are booted out or dumped on rescue centres. Some waste centres are closed to save money so old fridges and televisions are heaved over hedges. The abuse and mistreatment of wildlife is rampant. The much persecuted badger is literally in the firing line again. Another hunting season is about to start. What a squalid pastime that is as some creep about our woods and fields trying to evade the law by creating “accidents” of death. One highly revered Huntsman has just been jailed for raping a hunt supporter. It says it all. We will be stepping up our campaigns and working with colleagues in other groups to win for compassion. Your continued support is precious. If we can e-mail you our bulletins, and don’t already, please let us know. Thank you. Editor July 2012
Animal Cruelty Investigation Group, PO Box 8, HALESWORTH, Suffolk. IP19 0JL
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Web site: www.acigawis.org.uk
ANIMAL WELFARE INFORMATION SERVICE NEWS BULLETIN 34
The latest rise in postage costs, making the price of a second class letter 50p, has caused us to rethink the whole way in which we communicate with supporters of both the AWIS and its parent group, the Animal Cruelty Investigation Group (ACIG).
Since June 1989 we have been mailing to ACIG supporters twice a year. We have been doing the same to AWIS supporters since May 1995. Supporters of both groups receive four mailings a year. In addition to the postage costs of each mailing there is the cost of printing, the cost of envelopes and mailing labels. In total it costs some £2000 a year to send our literature by post.
There is also the length of time it takes to stuff the envelopes, address them with labels and stamp them. The use of paper has also meant a significant cost to the environment.
There is now an alternative way to communicate with supporters – namely by e-mail. For some years now we have asked supporters for their e-mail addresses. Being in e-mail contact has allowed us to communicate quickly with supporters and we have used that facility with our “Action for Compassion” e-mail circulars calling on supporters to participate in particular campaigns. This has proved to be an effective means of communication.
For some time now some supporters have also asked to receive their News Bulletins by e-mail and we have been pleased to send them that way. Not only does sending bulletins by e-mail save us time and money it also gives the benefit to the supporter of receiving all News Bulletins with colour photographs (except where the original was black and white) and they receive them quicker and with more certainty (none are “lost in the post”).
This latest rise in the cost of second class stamps is the last straw. We are in e-mail contact with hundreds of supporters and we have just contacted them asking their thoughts about receiving all future mailings from both the ACIG and the AWIS by e-mail. Many have replied and to date everyone is in agreement. Supporters recognise that the money and time saved here could be better spent on our valuable education and campaigning work.
There is a slight downside in that there always appears to be a loss of income associated with internet requests as opposed to direct mailings of paper appeals. Somehow it is easier to respond to something held in your hand rather than read on the computer screen. However that is a challenge that we seek to overcome by making our future internet appeals all the more imaginative!!
The way forward for your contact with your AWIS and ACIG is as follows:-
1). IF YOU USE THE E-MAIL SYSTEM THE FOLLOWING APPLIES TO YOU: have you sent us your current preferred e-mail address? If you would like to receive future mailings by e-mail please be sure that you have sent us your current e-mail address. If you are in e-mail contact with us but would still like to receive your mailings through the letter post please tell us, otherwise we will e-mail them to you. News Bulletins will be sent as attachments as both Word and pdf documents to allow ease of opening.
2). IF YOU DO NOT USE THE E-MAIL SYSTEM OR HAVE ANY EASY ACCESS TO IT THE FOLLOWING APPLIES TO YOU: if you have sent either the ACIG or the AWIS any donation or any communication within the last two years you do not have to do anything – we will continue to mail to you by post as before. If however we have heard nothing from you for over two years and we are not in e-mail contact with you please contact us now by post or by phone or we will very reluctantly have to delete your mailing card and you will hear nothing further from us. We need your continued support and as a final effort to retain it we will try to phone you if we have your number but if all our efforts fail sadly we will lose contact.
Over the many years of our successful campaigning we have accumulated a number of shall we say “redundant” addresses. After most mailings we get a few irate phone calls along the lines: “Don’t you realise that this person moved away four years ago!” We politely reply that no we did not realise that, if we had realised, we would have stopped mailing! Because we receive some anonymous donations, say a £20 note sent in with an unidentifiable supporter form, we have not been able to simply delete the mailing cards of supporters that we have not heard from for years. The anonymous donor could be one of those. Updating our mailing list so that we e-mail as many as possible and only post to supporters, and not to empty houses or old addresses, has been put off for far too long. The time for this essential action is now.
Thank you so much for your patience and for your help with this. It will make our operating systems much more efficient and effective.
In the short term we expect to see a dual mailing system as some supporters receive mailings by e-mail whilst others receive their mailings through the post. In time the proportions will change as more and more are able to access the e-mail systems.
I have to confess that at times I find the speed of change in the modern world quite bewildering. However at a cost of 50p a stamp, or to people of my generation 10 shillings, we have to embrace such changes if to do so will save funds, save time and be a whole lot greener!!!
I will shortly be writing in similar fashion to our ACIG supporters but of course any replies to this communication will also have effect for ACIG mailings. You will not need to write to us twice!!
Here is some good news for supporters we are in e-mail contact with. In the coming months I will be working towards creating a system whereby I will be able to circulate a link to you to allow you to access some of our archived photograph library. If this works to plan I will have a version of the slides that I used to use for talks available online with identifying captions for all supporters to see and perhaps more importantly available for supporters to forward on to friends and colleagues. In this way we could use the undoubted power of the Internet to recruit new support.
On Monday 16th January I was delighted to be invited to give a talk about bloodsports to a combined class of about 50 10 to 11-year-old pupils at St. Andrew’s Primary School, Soham. This was very well received and I think that I can say with certainty that nearly every child asked at least one question. I have another talk booked at another school in the near future. For a while it seemed that the opportunity to give such talks had passed but it is welcome to see the requests coming back again.
For anyone considering remembering the vital informative work of the AWIS in their will I respectfully suggest using the following form of bequest:
“I bequeath unto the Animal Welfare Information Service of P.O. Box 8, Halesworth, Suffolk, IP19 0JL, the sum of .............................. free of tax and I direct that the receipt of an authorised officer of the group shall be a good and sufficient discharge of such legacy.”
Neither the AWIS nor its sister group, the ACIG, is a charity. We have given a lot of thought to and taken legal advice on making one or other, or perhaps both, of these groups a charity but as yet we have not done so. Whilst many animal rescue centres are charities most of the large campaigning animal welfare groups are not. Like them we are at present unwilling to restrict our campaigning activities which would be the inevitable result of taking on charitable status. Please do not allow your solicitor to discourage you from leaving your money to whomsoever you wish, whether they are a charity or not.
I wish all supporters a happy, peaceful and warm summer. I am sorry to thrust these changes upon you but they have been forced upon us and we have to react. We do so in a positive manner. I look forward to being able to push out more information, quickly and at little cost and thereby enhance our campaigning abilities. I promise, again, that we will not be pestering supporters for donations. We never have and we never will. All I ask is that if you have not contacted us in some way in the last two years you contact us now to tell us how you would like to receive your future mailings. I look forward to hearing from you!!!
Our next bulletin will be written in the depths of the Autumn. Thank you so much for your continued support for our work.
Editor. May 2012
A.W.I.S., PO BOX 8, HALESWORTH, SUFFOLK. IP19 0JL
Web site: www.acigawis.org.uk E-mail: email@example.com