Covid-19 and Brexit has put the UK in possibly the worst financial collapse and struggle apart from World War II (added to the cost of that war, 450,700 people died, 383,600 who were in the military).
So, it’s almost impossible to campaign for other financial supports that don’t save the economy, people, infection and deaths. Even the planet’s environmental protection is restrained.
What is completely ignored (or at best, temporarily brushed aside) are animals, with two major issues in Scotland.
Edinburgh Zoo is one example. It has been a boost to tourism, as well as a wonderful outing for families and children, for 107 years. It put Edinburgh at the top of the UK as the only city zoo that homed giant pandas.
Now, with Covid-19, it’s lost £2.5 million. Along with the Highland Wildlife Park, also part of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, staff redundancies are underway and many animals will have to be sold off, along with conservation projects and educational programmes winding up.
Some animal lovers hate zoos, but sadly wildlife becomes even less safe now around the globe. Moving or exporting their animals can be disturbing and traumatic.
The most important animal issue in Scotland for me is the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. They are not funded by the Scottish government, and I hope when Covid-19 is eventually rapped down by vaccinations, or as soon as possible, the SSPCA should have financial support from the government.
Almost 50 per cent of the population have pets, with the majority being cats and dogs. And there are other animal organisations, from breeders to stables, displayers etc where animals could be ill-treated or abused. There are even just nasty thugs who like torturing creatures.
The SSPCA isn’t a mere charity. It rescues wild or tame animals, investigates ill-treatment or abusive crimes, decides whether humans involved have to be educated, or charged and reported for prosecution. They can seize animals from criminals, treat them, keep them in rescue homes and re-home them. They are equivalent to police and social workers, a crucial service for our society.
People who are not too fond of animals don’t want to live close to such cruel villains – and even if a bird falls down their chimney, or an unknown howling dog moves into their garden, who do they phone? The SSPCA.
And there are still people in Scotland who donate to the RSPCA (the Royal Society), assuming the SSPCA is part of that UK body. It’s not. The RSPCA only works for England and Wales.
The Scottish government cannot ever be expected to routinely fund all animal organisations with public money. But temporary support for Edinburgh Zoo now, and annual support for the SSPCA when we return to whatever “normality” we achieve, makes sense to me.