The RSPCA and the Law.


Well-Known Member
I have never been in the position where an RSPCA Inspector has turned up at my door regarding a complaint made against me and I very much doubt if many or even any of you have. However if it does ever happen where someone reports you to the RSPCA and an RSPCA inspector turn up at your door here are some facts about the RSPCA, their rights and the law.

Please note that I do not take any credit for this, I came across it on another forum ( and thought it might be useful for anyone "targeted" by the RSPCA.

Hopefully you’ll never need to know this, but just in case!

The following has been taken from the Self Help Group for Farmers & Others which was set up after a group of farmers believed they were unreasonably and unfairly ‘targeted’ by the RSPCA. ( The Shg for Farmers, Pet Owners and Others Experiencing Difficulties with the RSPCA )

Things to remember about the RSPCA.

> The RSPCA is a charity.

> The Inspectorate is NOT a public law enforcement body.

> Society Inspectors have NO special legal powers whatsoever.

> They have NO special powers to arrest offenders.

> They have NO right to enter your home to inspect your animals or to demand that you answer any of their questions.

> They have NO right of access to shows, fairs and markets other than as members of the public, and can only carry out any law enforcement function as an assistant to a police-officer, upon that officer’s request.

> They have NO power to stop, obstruct or otherwise detain any vehicle carrying animals.

> Society’s staff issue criminal proceedings against alleged offenders by way of private prosecution.

> Members of the Inspectorate wear uniforms which make them as much like police officers as the law will allow. They are not. The lowest rank in the Inspectorate is ‘Inspector’ (apart from Trainee Inspectors). Above that they have Chief Inspectors, Superintendent, and Chief Superintendent. None of these ranks are officers of the Crown, and have no legal significance whatsoever. They are designed to impress the public.

What to do if the RSPCA come calling.

You get a knock at the door; you open it. It’s the R.S.P.C.A.

The “officer” may or may not be in uniform but, crucially, the police are not in attendance.

What should you do? Do not panic and do not let the uniform or the attitude intimidate you.

There is a good chance that you will be cautioned using the words “You do not have to say anything but it may harm your defence if you do not now mention something which you later rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence”. All this means is that the R.S.P.C.A. officer can now give evidence in court as to what you say.

At this time the R.S.P.C.A. have no powers to arrest you, all they can do is report you for summons. We recommend that you ask “Am I under arrest?” Note their response.

It is very important that you do not allow them entry into your premises.

> They have no rights to be on your property.

> They have no special legal powers.

> They cannot demand entry to look at your animals.

> They cannot demand that you answer questions.

You may feel that you are being helpful to let them in and have a look round and you may feel that you have nothing to hide but do not let yourself be lulled into a false sense of security. Many innocent animal keepers have lost their animals in this way.

If you allow them in you are opening yourself up to problems which could lead to you losing your animals even if you are a good and conscientious keeper.

Be firm, but polite, and do not let them into your house, or other premises. Say “I have been advised not to answer any questions put by, or in the presence of, R.S.P.C.A. officials without a solicitor present. If you wish to question me I must insist that you arrange, and pay for, the police duty solicitor to be present”. Ask them to leave saying “Unless you have lawful authorisation to enter my premises I want you to leave now”.

If they refuse to leave you are entitled to use reasonable force to eject them, as you would any other common trespasser. Do not think that this is the end of the matter – they will probably be back, perhaps with the police. Telephone one of the emergency helpline numbers (at the bottom of this post) and they will do their best to put you in touch with people who can help. They can also advise on how you should now proceed.

The basic advice would be that you need to photograph your animals and your enclosures, invite a trusted friend to look over your stock and conditions or, preferably, get someone whose testimony would carry more weight to look over your animals/pets. It would certainly be a good idea to have a specialist vet check and write you a report. The helpline can put you in touch with expert witnesses and veterinarians and they can also seek legal advice on your behalf.

What do you do if the police attend your premises with the R.S.P.C.A.?

Ask “Do you have a search warrant, or other lawful authority, to enter my premises? Insist on a yes or no answer.

If the answer is no they have no right to demand access don’t let them in and proceed as you would if the R.S.P.C.A. are attending on their own.

Many people feel intimidated when faced with “mob-handed” visits but the law is on your side.

No matter what the R.S.P.C.A. may say to you, do not be tempted to let them in without proper authority.

No legal seizure of your animals can take place unless entry to your premises has taken place with proper authority.

If in any doubt, or you simply want some back-up, call the either of the helpline numbers or get someone to call on your behalf.

If they do have a search warrant ask “May I see and read the search warrant?” Ensure that you read the warrant before they try to enter unless they state it is urgent. It is very important that you don’t to anything to obstruct the police officer(s).

Check to see who is authorised to enter by the warrant. Only allow the persons authorised in the warrant onto your property and insist that any others leave.

Ask for a witness to be allowed in. Get a friend to come over as soon as possible. Call the emergency helpline as soon as you are able and they will try to locate an expert witness in your area to attend. They can also get legal advice for you. The sooner they know you have a problem the sooner they can start acting on your behalf. Once your animals have been seized it can be quite difficult to get them back and they (the helpline) would always try to prevent seizures being carried out.
Ensure that you record the time that any search is initiated and also the time at which it is finished. Record the details of anyone who enters and insist that you see ID cards for anyone in plain clothes.

Remember that anyone not specifically named on the warrant can be told to leave. If they do not leave they are guilty of trespass.

Don’t be bullied, be firm but polite at all times. If you feel the situation is getting out of hand, or you want advice, call the helpline.

With reference to your property (whether it is your animals or any documentation), only the police have the authority to remove items. The R.S.P.C.A. (or any other charity) have absolutely no authority to remove your property (and this includes your animals) without your consent.

If the police want to take things away seek further advice from the helpline immediately. Insist that you are given a full receipt that lists everything in detail (e.g. 75 sheets of paper, 2 notebooks, etc.) do not accept receipts for, for example, “a quantity of correspondence” make sure it is listed in full.

Should your animals be removed by the police you are entitled to inspect them wherever they may have been placed and you are entitled to an independent veterinary inspection, which the R.S.P.C.A. are obliged to pay for.

If you are arrested insist that you speak only to the police and do not answer questions with the R.S.P.C.A. present. Insist that you wish to speak to the duty solicitor and do not make a written statement until you have spoken to the duty solicitor.

The police may have some other authority to enter your premises which means they can go in without a search warrant. They can, for example, enter to arrest you for various offences without your consent. If they use this authority it does not enable anyone else to enter so you can insist that all other persons leave your premises, unless they can give a lawful authority for their being present.

If you are unfortunate enough to be the subject of a raid you may well find yourself overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of people that end up on your doorstep. With police officers, R.S.P.C.A. personnel and members of other charities brought in as consultants or handlers (and last but not least film crews!) you may well be facing a dozen or more people. Thus intimidated, even though you know your rights, you could find yourself pressured into allowing admittance to your house or other premises. Most keepers are law abiding citizens who have been accustomed to cooperating with authority figures and this is what makes you vulnerable.

Perfectly healthy-looking animals have also been removed “for further examination”, never to be returned. Do not be persuaded to sign away your animals, for examination off your premises, or for any other purpose – you will probably not have them returned.

The emergency helpline numbers are 023 8044 0999 or 1470 0870 072 6689


Well-Known Member
One of the RSPCA jumpt up Nazi's in full uniform turned up at my place, saying there had been a complaint about dogs being kept in terrible conditions.
The first think I told her was to please go and stand outside the gate as I had not asked her to come onto my premises.
When she was outside the gate I offered her a deal, if she told me who had complained I would let her look at me dog pens to asses the honesty of the compaint, as my pens are not visible from the road.
When she said she could not amd would not do that I told her it was her choice, if she wanted to look at them all she had to do was tell me the name of the complainant.
We stood there about 20 minutes with her demanding to see the pens. and I said all you have to do is tell me and you can see them, but she wouldn't and I didn't and eventually she left telling me she would be back with the police.
That was about 5 years ago, I'm still waiting.


Well-Known Member
I once lived next door to a twat of the highest order,who among other things called the police when I left the house with a shotgun or rifle,[cased and locked in rear of cab behind seat out of sight the bolt on my belt.] police attended and were happy with my conduct and gun safety.
complained about my tv Ariel and cb antennae being too high. council made him lower his ariel too, and 14 others in the same street,[making him very unpopular.]
complained my dogs were not being cared for. rspa officer called while I was out but looked through the living room window at the 6 dogs I had and got a good idea of how well they were cared for and left a note through the door stating exactly that. [ I sent him a framed copy of it.] I never heard from them again.
there were literally dozens of bogus complaints. all unfounded.

then one day he fell over and called the police and told them I had beaten him up, [obviously I hadn't , fac/sgc and the desire to keep it, you know how it is, [no really, he caved under police pressure when interviewed, and was severely reprimanded]
the village bobby came round, had a chat and some biscuits and tea, and jokingly said, "If he wastes any more police time they would probably beat him up themselves"

but I have heard some alarming tales of rspa officers demanding entry, and overstepping their authority.


Well-Known Member
Many years ago when I lived in my house until I rented it out so I could look after mum and dad with out the consent driving too and back again which in it's self was very wearing. I had 2 very nice dogs who came to work with me every day except on a Tuesday morning as I went to a salvage auction from home so had to leave them at home then picked them up...

Nice long garden (dog proof) garden shed with the door tied open, off the floor beds, shared with 3 chickens, bucket of water in and outside. Know running a car breakers/panel shop 6 1/2 days a week the 1/2 day off was most welcome so when a knock at the door waking me up off the sofa on a Sunday evening from a well deserved kip then I wasn't that chuffed.
Looking at the uniforms I had a double take to see RSPCA
Yes what do you want?
Do you have 2 dogs...
Yes, know what do you want...?
Can we see them?
Yes but for the third time what do you want...?
Ah well we have a report of dogs left all day locked in a tin shed....
Oh really.....what day?
Ah I don't have that information just they are left in a tin shed...
Keeping calm I opened the locked back gate with big torch in hand and with 2 very well fed, watered dogs bouncing around I took them down the garden to the shed....
Chickens were on their perch, full bucket of water and the door tied back.... said...
Can't see dogs in distress being locked in a tin shed to me can YOU?
And what do you have to say I asked the other one...
Er... looks very comfortable for them...
Good lets go back to the house so I can get both your details..
My turn to ask questions which was who called you...
We can't say
So after several exchanges the guy in charge indicated that the callers house was very very close, so living in a semi-detached house I came to the conclusion it was the sniveling, not worked in 25 years (bad back) state sponging neighbor.
His repayment was years of tennents with young kids playing football and all the noisy things they get up



I really want to share my experience of 'When the RSPCA comes knocking' or more to puts sticky tape on your doors and gates!
But after one visit regarding my terriers and another to my parents pampered 32 yr old horse, I'm afraid the mere mention of the RSPCA makes my p##s boil !


Active Member
I know of two instances of people making reports to the RSPCA of horses in fields which were starving and on verge of death and both times the RSPCA did nothing. Horses did actually die in both incidents, when they told of this in follow up calls they stated they couldn't trace the owners and could do nothing. In both cases the horses were owned by travellers.


Well-Known Member
We had a dog stuck in a culvert at the back of work. Rang RSPCA and was told ' not our problem, ring council dog warden'.

Had they had a Camera crew with them they would have been on the scene in a flash. Looks good on TV and encourages old ladies to leave them their Bungalow in the Will.

Incidentally we got the Dog out. A lovely English Bull Terrier. Scoffed everyone's sandwiches.


Active Member
We had a dog stuck in a culvert at the back of work. Rang RSPCA and was told ' not our problem, ring council dog warden'.

Had they had a Camera crew with them they would have been on the scene in a flash. Looks good on TV and encourages old ladies to leave them their Bungalow in the Will.

Incidentally we got the Dog out. A lovely English Bull Terrier. Scoffed everyone's sandwiches.
I've experience of a few stories like that. One involved a Mute Swan which was obviously in some distress with discarded fishing line trailing from its beak. A member of the public phoned the RSPCA and was told 'sorry we can't do anything at the moment but if you contact the local TV news and they can send a cameraman and reporter, ring us back and we'll come straight there'.

The fourth Horseman

Well-Known Member
Had a visit from the Jockanese equivalent once. Whilst picking up on an estate and sending dogs after runners into a large wood, one Lab didn't return. Panic sessions but couldn't find him anywhere. Someone had seen him hunting and taken him home. They decided he was malnourished and rang the estate owner who rang the SSPCA, and then the Keeper who rang me. I went and collected my dog and took him home with the others. Within a couple of hours an inspector arrived at my cottage high in the Border hills wanting to see my dogs. I told him quite bluntly that although he had no right I would show him my brand new block of kennels.
In all fairness the guy said "Well I have never seen such a fit looking bunch of dogs, so sorry to have bothered you". I asked him in for a cup of tea and a chat, apparently the person who had caught my dog and the Estate owner couldn't tell the difference between a rangy and fit animal and a starving animal.
Never ever had an apology or picked up on that estate again.