The Ulster Society Prevention Cruelty to Animals (USPCA) is the second oldest Animal Welfare Charity in the world. Founded in 1836 as the Belfast SPCA it’s first priority was to challenge the abuse of working horses, a daily occurrence on the Victorian city streets. The eventual name change from Belfast to Ulster SPCA acknowledged the scale, scope and success of the Charity’s expanded operations across the province.


The purpose of our founders to ‘Prevent Cruelty and Relieve Suffering’ remains as the driving force for our Charitable activities. The USPCA differs from many other animal welfare groups who focus on the needs of a single species with our unique commitment to protect ALL our animals.


Whilst there are heartless individuals willing to inflict unnecessary suffering on animals the need for a USPCA will remain. This Society will ensure its resources are effectively used to prevent animal cruelty and relieve suffering. For over 175 years we have fulfilled our commitment by adapting to the times. The USPCA will continue to protect ALL animals by utilising and adapting advances in technology to help tackle an ever present problem.

Annual Report Cover 2013Download PDFDownload PDF of Caring for Cats and Kittens

Directors’ Report

for the year ended 31 March 2013 The directors submit their audited financial statements for the year ended 31 March 2013. The directors have adopted the provisions of the Companies Act 2006 and the Statement of Recommended Practice (SORP) “Accounting and Reporting by Charities” issued in March 2005 (revised May 2008) in preparing the annual report and financial statements of the charity.

Reference and Administrative Information

Chief Executive/Secretary - Stephen Philpott
Chairman - Charles Edward South
Treasurer -Denise South

Structure, Governance and Management

The Society is a Company Limited by Guarantee, not having a share capital and satisfies the criteria set out in Section 60 of the Companies Act 2006 whereby it is exempted from the use of the word “Limited” as part of the company name. The company is governed by a Memorandum and Articles of Association. The liability of each member of the company is limited to a contribution, in the event of the winding up of the Society, of an amount not exceeding £1. The Directors have ultimate legal and financial responsibility for the affairs of the USPCA, although the management of the organisation is generally delegated to the staff, through the Chief Executive. The Board of Directors meet on a quarterly basis and consist of the Chief Executive, the Chairman, the Treasurer and the other Board Members. In addition, staff meetings are held on a monthly basis. The Directors of the company at 31 March 2012, all of whom have been in office for the whole of the year ended on that date, unless otherwise stated, are listed on the information page. The USPCA has an induction program for new directors in which directors are advised of their legal responsibility and requirements.

Charitable status

The society has been granted charitable status for taxation purposes and its registered number is XN 45066.

Subsidiary undertakings

The Charity has a wholly owned subsidiary company, USPCA Trading Limited. The principal activity of the subsidiary company was the cultivation and distribution of plants and USPCA branded merchandise. The activities of the trading company have declined significantly as the Society entered into a contract from 1 November 2009 with Southern Health & Social Care Trust to join it in a social entrepreneurship partnership for which SEP funding has been obtained.

Risk management objectives and policies

The directors have actively reviewed the major risks which the charity faces and have in place sufficient resources in the event of adverse conditions. The directors have also examined other business and operational risks, which the charity faces and confirm that it has established systems to mitigate significant risks.

Objectives and activities

The principal activities of the Ulster Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals are ‘The Prevention of Cruelty and the Relief of Suffering.’ Our success in fulfilling these activities is fundamental to attaining our ultimate objective ‘The Advancement of Animal Welfare.’ The USPCA seeks to achieve this objective by lawful means. The USPCA Animal Hospital with its seven day a week in house veterinary cover ensures resources are allocated to meet our charitable purpose. The hospital both relieves and prevents suffering in companion animals and native wildlife. It dispenses advice, protects from disease, neuters and spays. Animals are not denied essential treatment through financial adversity on the part of an owner. Running alongside is our veterinary voucher scheme. Suffering pets and wildlife, unable to avail of in-house veterinary provision are treated by local vets courtesy of our long established voucher facility. This financial support relieves the suffering of many injured animals that would otherwise remain untreated and in distress. The Charity continues to investigate and make public many criminal acts, e.g. Dog Fighting, Badger Baiting, Carted Deer Hunts, Cock Fighting etc. Our poster and radio campaign directed against Puppy Farms in the run up to Christmas 2012 was successful and will be repeated. The ARC goes from strength to strength. Based near Bessbrook, the Project in which adults with learning difficulty care for animals, has achieved a level of husbandry skills that require minimal USPCA support. The USPCA continues to receive dogs seized by Newry & Mourne Dog Wardens. Rehoming takes place through the Carnbane Facility and the many messages left on social networks are testament to its success. The Benvarden site which remains under the Charity’s control hosts BARK a successful dog re-homing facility run by Louise Neill a former USPCA employee. In the wake of the Welfare of Animals (Northern Ireland) Act the Charities Welfare Officers have adapted to changing roles. Their manning of the Animal Helpline provides a vital link between a confused public and the enforcement agencies. The Charity remains actively involved in animal welfare issues both locally and in Europe. Membership of the DARD Animal Welfare and Stakeholder Forum allows us an opportunity to have an input into welfare issues locally. We continue to lobby politicians at every level from our local council chambers to the Council of Europe. The importance of Europe in formulating Animal Welfare Legislation cannot be overstated; many key welfare laws will be drafted in Brussels and legislated on in Strasbourg. Our membership of Eurogroup for Animals, based in Brussels, provides an opportunity to comment on planned legislation at an early stage.

Achievements and performance

Legislation The period covered by this report was a time of transition and change. After years of lobbying for ‘fit for purpose’ animal welfare legislation the 2nd April 2012 saw the implementation of the raft of new legislation completed; laws that, with effective enforcement, have the potential to improve welfare standards and afford better protection from neglect, abuse and exploitation for companion animals, livestock and native wildlife. Northern Ireland now enjoys Animal Welfare Legislation that, on paper, is amongst the best in Europe. However, fine words and laudable commitments are, no matter how well intentioned, of no value without consistent and effective enforcement by the agencies charged with this task. Twelve months have passed since implementation of the new Act and the USPCA jury is still out on this key aspect of the legislation. After years of political lobbying and media campaigns this Charity will not allow these hard won advances in animal welfare standards to vanish in a welter of cost cutting, apathy is not an option. Principal amongst the new laws is The Welfare of Animals Act (Northern Ireland) 2011, a law intended to protect our companion animals from neglect and abuse. Enforcement is the responsibility of our 26 local authorities. Funded initially by a ‘one off’ Department of Agriculture & Rural Development grant the future costs of employing the investigating officers, acquiring and running the necessary vehicles, providing office support, veterinary costs, kennelling , livery and the mounting of prosecutions will be borne by ratepayers. As a Charity pledged to advancing standards of animal welfare we will not stand by and allow rescue, rehabilitation and re-homing lose out to cost control with rescued animals needlessly destroyed to balance the books.

USPCA Animal Hospital In the 1930s the USPCA opened an Animal Hospital in Edenmore House, Jordanstown, adapting a large gentleman’s residence for the purpose. It gave the Charity a facility within its control to expand and develop its charitable purpose. Regrettably World War II intervened and the property was acquired by the expanding RAF. The ambitions for Edenmore and its evolving contribution to animal welfare were lost. Seventy years on and 2012 saw the establishment of a 21st century USPCA Animal Hospital at the Charity’s Carnbane HQ, a facility whose principal purpose is the ’Advancement of Animal Welfare.’ The in-house veterinary surgery is fully equipped and is open weekdays and weekends alike. It will relieve suffering, give important advice, carry out all run of the mill procedures, neutering, spaying, inoculations, micro-chipping, worming etc. Its objective is to relieve and prevent suffering. If necessary a pet owners deprived financial circumstances will not be an obstacle to their animal’s wellbeing. There are recovery rooms, quiet areas set aside for wildlife awaiting release. A classroom for the educational needs of future generations; a re-homing facility supported by the internet based ‘Pets Seeking a Home’ gallery; a grooming room ensures those animals look their best when meeting a prospective new family. Spacious exercise areas give would be re-homers and prospective pets an ideal opportunity to socialise before making a commitment and the retail unit provides the essentials needed for any family pet. It is early days but already the evolving facility is proving its worth for companion animals and wildlife alike.

Equine Concerns This Charity has, for several years, been flagging up its apprehension regarding the fate of financially valueless equines across the island of Ireland and such were these concerns we launched an extensive undercover investigation into their large scale disappearance. When the furore concerning horse meat content in products marketed as 100% beef hit the headlines all horse welfare concerns disappeared from the media as quickly as frozen burgers. Invaluable hard evidence gathered by the USPCA was made available to agencies North and South. Based on this information our colleagues in the Scottish SPCA effectively closed the route of choice used by Northern criminals to export unfit animals to English abattoirs. Following face to face discussions with the USPCA the ROI Government took immediate action to curtail the activities of unregulated abattoirs in the Republic. Checks at ports were more rigorous than before. The widely abused horse passport issuing arrangements were subjected to scrutiny and change. As a direct result of our investigation and media pressure subsequently exerted the illegal export and slaughter of horses has been curtailed. This raft of change was a ‘knee jerk’ reaction taken to protect a beleaguered beef industry, any improvement in equine welfare was a spin off, albeit welcome, however the problem of unwanted animals remains a concern both North and South. Equines are defined as Companion Animals by Department of Agriculture & Regional Development (DARD) it is the responsibility of our local authorities to protect and, if necessary, seize them when their wellbeing is being compromised by abandonment or neglect.

Wildlife Badgers Our native badger is under threat across the UK. If the extremists within the all-powerful farming lobby get their way a creature that has graced our countryside for millennia will be confined to isolated pockets. The argument surrounding a badger cull reached a critical stage this year and following the USPCAs widely publicised investigation as part of Operation Meles, a UK wide investigation into badger persecution, the Charity was invited to meet the DARD Minister to discuss the criminality associated with badger digging. This worthwhile meeting took place and the Minister listened to and took on board our concerns. Indeed Minister O’Neill praised the Society’s commitment and efforts in the Assembly Chamber when responding to a member’s question. The USPCA gave evidence to the Stormont Agriculture Committee regarding the planned cull and as a result of the evidence given the slaughter of badgers planned for parts of England will not happen here. A compromise that involves cage trapping and testing badgers for bovine tuberculosis within designated areas in County Down was agreed with animals free of disease inoculated and returned to the wild. Diseased badgers will be culled to prevent the spread of infection either within the colony or to cattle.

Deer We are reliably informed by UFU delegates at the Animal Health & Welfare Stakeholder Forum at DARD HQ that deer carry bovine TB and have the potential to infect cattle. The information was imparted to our representative whilst the Charity was carrying out an undercover investigation into ‘carted’ stag hunting. A welfare abuse that sees young stags, reared in captivity and antlers removed, being pursued by the hunt and its hounds across open countryside. The USPCA found it impossible to reconcile this activity with the UFU assertion that deer are a potential source of infection. A situation made worse by a filmed hunt taking place in one of the areas specifically designated for the testing of badgers. This case of ‘double standards’ was pointed out to the Agriculture Committee who in turn asked for a response from The Minister, DARD, Northern Ireland Agricultural Producers Association (NIAPA). NIAPA and the UFU have yet to respond. General The USPCA provided a guest speaker at a two day all Ireland Wildlife Conference held in County Meath. The symposium is now an annual event and attracts delegates from Ireland and further afield. The Charity’s briefing on our investigation into badger persecution caused revulsion and was endorsed by all attending. Contacts made at the conference are proving their worth in the development of our Animal Hospital.

Europe As members of Eurogroup for Animals the USPCA was represented at the 2012/13 AGM and members forum in Brussels. Its delegates comprise representatives of animal welfare charities from each of the 27 member states. The permanent offices are close to the European Commission and a team of welfare specialists are based within the Commission lobbying on behalf of animals at the highest level. A major achievement in 2012/13 is the ban on the testing of cosmetics on animals. A long hard battle waged against huge corporate interests that was won within the Commission and Strasbourg Parliament. One of Eurogroup’s plans going forward is to ensure proper enforcement of a welter of new Animal Welfare Laws recently brought in across Europe by the member states, an objective we share for animals in Northern Ireland.

Summary We welcome any new legislation with the potential to advance animal welfare. For 12 months we have allowed the enforcement agencies an opportunity to ensure their systems underwrite the welfare of animals. Enforcement statistics relating to year one of the new legislation are to be found on pages 30-34 of this report. They offer no reassurance that companion animal suffering is lessened as a result of its implementation. The on-going ‘period of transition and change’ referred to at the beginning of this report has been another challenge to this Charity. Throughout its 177 years the USPCA has shown an ability to absorb change and adapt our operations to ensure we meet our charitable purpose. We emerge from 2013 reinvigorated and ready for the challenges that lie ahead.  For full report including Auditor’s Report and Financial Statements download the PDF.

Previous Annual Reports

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Address: Unit 6 Carnbane Industrial Estate (East) Newry, Co Down BT35 6QH (Near Fiveways Roundabout)

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