Please help me fight RSPCA on behalf of an abused volunteer

I volunteered for the RSPCA for 3 years, fostering cats, taking photos for them and helping with the rehoming. The lady in charge did this all for free, and it is her passion. She has 10 cats, loves animals and worked tirelessly house checking etc. She’s amazing. When I joined they were struggling because the man in charge of the local branch (who will remain nameless for now) refused to let photos go on their local branch. When I queried this, saying how much people searched for animals online and fell in love with cats photos, he said the RSPCA were too busy saving animals to worry about that. After a few battles where he refused to give the name of the volunteer who updated the local branch website I gave up and registered with CatChat and after about 6 months managed to get a link to CatChat put on the branch website, not ideal but the best we could do. Last Christmas 2010 we hand reaer 4 x 1 week old kittens for 2 weeks because they were dumped in a bin in London and the Putney branch felt they didn’t have the staff to hand rear them, but luckily this rehoming lady heard about it as she was there about another cat and managed to persuade them to let us do it. They were going to be put down. After 2 weeks when I had to go back to work Celia Hammond took them from us and raised them. Amazing.

I took photos regularly and the rehoming went from 50 cats a year to 120 a year, something he happily took the credit for at the local board meeting without mentioning the lady in charge of rehoming. The lady in charge, along with several other people, stepped down from being a trustee alongside the head of the local branch due to his bullying, rude behaviour.

We kept our heads down, tried to not deal with him and managed to keep it going well. There were often problems with payment for our fosterers or the vets, it was an ongoing fight for this poor lady but she did it because she cares. Sadly many cats were put down before I heard about it. I managed to smuggle out many cats to the ever wonderful Celia Hammond who were never in the least surprised by the RSPCA putting down cats that could be saved. Even getting blood tests paid for were difficult, an operation would always be out of the question and the cat put to sleep. It was heartbreaking to see but I felt that the 120 cats a year were better than nothing and couldn’t bear the thought of what would happen to them if not.

However, I got more busy with a day job and photography taking off and had to take a back seat but this lady kept on tirelessly, keeping me updated. One day she called me so upset. The man at the branch had refused to pay her fosterers and the local vets who had helped us for 5 year. He owed £20,000 to them but was refusing. He said he hadn’t seen any invoices before, he wouldn’t pay because he hadn’t seen them before, which is rubbish as this vets is a professional business and always sent them directly. She is heavily pregnant and struggling now. He was deeply unpleasant to her on the phone, called her all sorts of names and hung up on her, only to call her back to abuse her again.

In 2001 the RSPCA spent £40,000 trying to evict him from the charity. He managed to stay in by just 1 vote.

He has now banned the rehoming lady from rehoming, changed all numbers and access to CatChat. Since Christmas he has called the police over to her house saying that she was abusive and made trouble in the RSPCA local branch (something which if you met this woman you’d think was hilarious, she may have tried to interupt him loudly as he talks over everyone rudely and abusively but she would never have been abusive herself or warranted a police visit). She is now banned from any RSPCA shop, or to go near any of the vets.

The problem is that she is a volunteer, and he is a volunteer, and therefore not covered by standard employment law. We are at a loss as to what to do, no idea what is happening with the rehoming of the poor cats left in the branch (the vets holding them have refused to put them down) and it has cut off for about 2 months now any rehoming.

I know this all seems a bit petty compared to people here losing their pets and having their lives ruined but this poor lady dedicated her life to the charity and is very upset, scared and concerned about the poor cats left there. Does anyone have any advice for me to help her? This shouldn’t be allowed to happen, I can’t let it. The branches are the only hope to do some good, ignoring the central office, the branches do good, rewarding work when they can, often fighting against a system they hate. He is stopping any good work and we are desperate to get back in to try to save more animals…


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