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Animal Concern Advice Line News

Wishing Supporters a Belated Happy New Year

January 09th 2018: John Robins wished supporters a belated Happy New Year, thanked them for helping to have wild animals banned from circuses in Scotland and explained why he hadn't been in touch for a couple of weeks

To supporters of Animal Concern, Animal Concern Advice Line and Save Our Seals Fund.

Dear Supporter,

I'd like to apologise for being probably the last person to wish you a Happy New Year and to thank you for all your support in 2017. This is only partly because I don't know, or want to know, how to make my computer automatically send you “personalised” greetings/begging e-mails. I'll tell you the other reason after a bit of good news.

At the end of December the Scottish Government passed a law banning the use of wild animals in travelling circuses in Scotland. As you know I had hoped for more as I think dogs suffer greatly from the confinement involved in spending most of their lives on the road.

It will be interesting to see how the ban works when the first circus with “wild” animals tries to enter Scotland.

It is strange to think that it was the plight of some big cats being kept on an Aberdeenshire croft overwinter which led to this new law. Although their accommodation was totally unacceptable those lions and tigers were kept in far better conditions than elephants and other “wild” animals we discovered chained up in a semi-derelict Bishopbriggs barn and, after that fell down, a disused Glasgow factory during the period between the end of the summer tour and the Glasgow Christmas circus in the 1980s and 90s.

At first I was angry that we had to wait until the big cat croft case before action was taken to curb the abuse and exploitation of animals in circuses. I thought of the days I spent with many of you picketing circuses in Inverness, Nairn, Aberdeen, Dundee, Perth, Stirling, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverclyde and Ayrshire. I remember a past Director of Animal Concern who was hospitalised after staging a brave but ill-advised one-person protest outside a circus on Glasgow Green. I remember the Aberdonian police officers who threatened to arrest me after I reported being assaulted by a circus worker outside the Big Top across from the Beach Ballroom.

Then I remembered the tens of thousands of leaflets we distributed and the pages of newspaper coverage and hours of TV and radio news items, features and debates we generated. I would like to think it was those thirty years plus of protest and public education which has given us a new generation of politicians who are aware of the cruelties involved in the training and transportation of animals used in circuses.

Every one of you who has given out an anti-circus leaflet, written a protest letter to your local paper or taken part in a radio phone-in or TV debate should be proud of your part in changing the law to make Scotland a cruelty-free zone when it comes to “wild” animals in circuses. When the next circus with performing dogs dares to come to Scotland we will try and persuade our politicians to protect canines from circus cruelty.

Time for another apology. In December several of you sent in donations and your 2018 subscriptions. You may be wondering why your cheques have not been banked yet.

Truth is I had a bit of a break last month. I went on a little trip. Or rather a little slip. A combination of black ice and no grit had me hobbling off to casualty. Great staff, but not enough of them and not enough basic equipment. For instance they only had two wheel chairs for the whole unit.

A nurse phoned me four days after my first X-rays to tell me that as well as torn tendons I had a broken ankle. In the meantime I went one better and developed a nasty infection in my leg.

Christmas and New Year is a time I use to get work up to date for the end of the year but I wasn't able to do that this year. However I got off the antibiotics with the nasty side-effects last week and the ankle support boot came off yesterday so I can now sit at the computer in a degree of comfort again.

I'll try to get to the bank later this or early next week and I'll be writing to you soon about a couple of political consultations which could do with your input before the end of this month.

If you are not a Life Member of Animal Concern please renew your subscription and if you are not yet a Member please consider joining.

Details here: Animal Concern Contributions

I do my best not to bombard you with begging letters and e-mails but we do need Members so that our work can continue into the future.


PS: Animal Concern and Animal Concern Advice Line are looking for a part-time Minutes and Membership Secretary. The position would best suit someone who lives in the Glasgow/West of Scotland area, can attend meetings in Glasgow 3 or 4 times a year, is competent in word processing (we use Microsoft Word and Microsoft Outlook) and has the facilities to work from home. At the moment we are unsure of how many hours would be involved though, for the right person, there may be the opportunity in the future to make the post full-time. Remuneration would be at least the real Living Wage rate and reasonable out of pocket expenses will be covered.

If you are interested and have the skills we need please contact me by e-mail including your CV.