Watchdog clears RSPCA advert

The RSPCA has been cleared by the Advertising Standards Authority of misleading the public in a TV advert for its pet rehoming service.

The advert included the claim that the animal welfare charity “would do all it can to find a new loving home for your pet if you should die”. A complainant said it was misleading because it did not make it clear that animals might be put down if they could not be rehomed.

However, the watchdog decided that viewers were likely to understand the phrase to imply that there might be instances in which animals could not be rehomed because of behavioural or health problems. It also considered that pet owners were unlikely to sign up to the rehoming service without reading the RSPCA’s follow-up literature, in which the conditions were spelt out.

The ASA report says: “Because it was highly unlikely that animals that came to the RSPCA under the Home for Life scheme would be put down and, if they were, it would be to relieve their suffering or to avoid them causing harm to others, we considered that it was not necessary for the ad to refer to the potential for animals to be put down.”

Meanwhile, the RSPCA has responded scathingly to the headline-making call earlier this week from the Government’s chief scientific adviser, Sir David King, for a badger cull to reduce bovine TB.

Dr Rob Atkinson, the charity’s head of wildlife science, dismissed the advice, which contradicts the Independent Scientific Group’s recommendation for enhanced cattle controls to reduce the spread of bTB.

He said: “The RSPCA is not a bunch of badger-huggers. The society supported the ISG’s research, despite the large numbers of badgers that died in the process, because we recognised the need for firm scientific evidence.

“To dismiss that and proceed with a cull would make a nonsense of the research, which took almost 10 years, cost the lives of more than 10,000 badgers and cost taxpayers £34m. It would also be the worst possible option for cattle and badgers.”

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