Real life

Press five to report a funny man on your doorstep with strange tales of dog torture

The scare tactics of Battersea Dogs Home – or their agents – won't work with me

23 August 2014

9:00 AM

23 August 2014

9:00 AM

Strangely enough, I was in the middle of writing an article about the tactics used by the RSPCA when another animal charity knocked on my door. A young man holding a clipboard was standing on the doorstep, grinning enthusiastically: ‘Hello! I’m from Battersea Dogs Home.’

‘Hello,’ I said, ‘I’m a bit busy.’ Exposing animal welfare charities for preying on innocent people. I didn’t say that last bit out loud.

‘I just need to tell you,’ he said, ‘that we’ve got a big fundraising drive because a lot of dogs are being abandoned at the moment. And…’, he paused for dramatic effect, ‘…a lot of them have been tortured.’

‘Tortured?’ I said, feeling unnerved in precisely the way I was supposed to.

‘Yes,’ he said, ‘tortured. It’s on the rise at the moment. Dogs being tortured.’

‘What do you mean? Who is torturing them and why?’

He shrugged. ‘I don’t really have any more details. All I know is there are lots of dogs being tortured.’

‘Oh dear,’ I said, trying to hold on to the spaniel who was struggling to get free from between my legs. I had trapped her there because when I opened the door she tried to hurl herself at the Battersea man, no doubt with the intention of doing a little light torturing of her own.

‘Ah!’ he said. ‘She’s lovely.’

‘Yes,’ I said. ‘I bought her as a puppy. I tried to adopt a dog from Battersea but they wouldn’t let me have one because I’m single and have a job so they were worried the dog might be left alone. But in fact I take her everywhere and we have lovely walks twice a day, come rain or shine.’

‘Yes,’ he said, ‘I do hear that sort of complaint a lot. People want to help by adopting a dog but they can’t get approved.’

And then, without a hint of irony, he told me that Battersea needs more money to help with the huge number of dogs it needs to rehome, especially with the whole torture issue.

‘We don’t want cash from you now,’ he reassured me. ‘Just a direct debit mandate so we can take money later.’

He informed me that lots of my neighbours had filled one out. Yes, I bet they had. It was mid-afternoon and, aside from columnists writing exposés of animal charities, the only people at home were the elderly. Old people don’t like talk of animal torture. They’re funny like that.

I looked him straight in the eye. ‘I’m not going to give you anything,’ I said, ‘because I don’t agree with your tactics.’

‘Oh, er, but…’ And he stammered one final appeal on behalf of ambiguously tortured dogs everywhere before sodding off.

Later, as Cydney and I set off on our afternoon walk, I noticed the cold calling sign, which bore the stamp of Lambeth Council and a number to call. So I rang it. But the number was its own sort of hoax, being connected to a trading standards line which was, in turn, connected to the main switchboard of the Citizens Advice Bureau, which had a queue consisting of everyone in Britain with problems. So I rang the council switchboard to complain and they connected me to their licensing department.

‘To be honest,’ the girl there told me, ‘we can’t take reports or complaints about that. You need to call the Citizens Advice Bureau and they will call Trading Standards and they will call the company involved and give them a telling off and say “please stop cold calling”.’

‘And will that stop it?’

‘Ooh. I don’t know.’

So I decided to call Battersea Dogs Home. ‘Press one to rehome an animal, press two to speak about fundraising, press three to bring in a dog, press four to bring in a cat…’

There wasn’t an option saying ‘press five to report a funny man on your doorstep tormenting you with strange tales of dog torture’. So I pressed two. A very nice lady was deeply apologetic and said they should never have been in a ‘no cold calling’ zone. But apparently, all their door knocking is done by an agency, you see.

She said she thought the ‘torture’ fundraising drive might be something to do with dogs being injured through dogfighting. But on the whole, she was pretty baffled. She said the agency involved would be spoken to and the person responsible for the shaggy tortured dog story would get some serious retraining. She even offered to go through the records and contact all the elderly people in my street who had given their direct debit details in order to check that they really did want to donate money.

‘The last thing we want to do is to frighten people,’ she said. Glad we cleared that up.

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  • trace9

    I find these articles with huge Blank Spaces between miniscule paras, necessitating maniacal over-manipulation of the nubby little mouse-wheel almost equally trying, indeed quite replacing those awful calls, which I’ve never had. Meow, bark, skin-replacement bill en-route.

  • Guest

    no surprise, charities have become amoral, fascist institutions that lie and cheat to squeeze as much money out of you as possible

    PETA – put down tens of thousands of unwanted pets each year in the UK and the US, and threatens people in the fur industry with terrorist tactics, such as kidnapping of their children or even death

    OXFAM – bombards you with images of malnourished children, only to support terrorist organisations around the world who use the funds to buy arms and attack sovereign nations

    both vile disgusting institutions that should be investigated, and not supported

    p.s: I passed by the Oxfam charity shop in Gloucester Road in South Kensington the other day, in the window they had a sign ‘Gaza crisis appeal’. I stuck my head inside, and said loudly ‘Hey Oxfam ,what’s the crisis in Gaza? The terrorists have run out of rockets?’

    felt good

  • JoeDM

    Not a penny from me to any of the corporate mega-charities that pay six figure salaries and banker-style bonuses to their ‘Chief Executives” !!!

  • Suzy61

    How much money do Guide Dogs for the Blind currently have in their numerous bank accounts? i ask on behalf of an impoverished pensioner who insists on regularly donating money she cannot afford.

  • Gwangi

    Only the elderly at home mid-afternoon? How ignorant! Plenty of people work from home these days, plus there are mothers of young kids, students, those between jobs. Try meeting your neighbours eh?
    Also, it’s officially Battersea Dogs and Cats home these days.
    Big charity is just an industry though, and they do hire agencies. They probably targeted your area because it is posh and full of rich people; we have never had chuggers on the doorstep where I live.
    But join the TPS immediately to avoid cold calls on the phone.

    • Newton Unthank

      The TPS is completely toothless. Most spam calls nowadays come from overseas and the TPS has no power over them.

      • Gwangi

        Yes, that is true. But you can report any from the UK who call. It is all we have.
        Also if you ever make the mistake of co-operating with anyone who phones up asked you to do a survey, you are basically giving permission for future cold calls.

    • Liz

      “And would you have had the same attitude to a woman caller? Would she have been strange and funny? Actually I used to work (not for long) for an electricity company – the most successful of those who went knocking on people’s doors were women, because they seem safe and honest, whereas in fact they were devious, manipulative and dodgy, getting people to sign up to their electricity company using emotions, maternal smiles, flirting, and always playing on the fact that people – incredibly – automatically trust women and distrust men!”

      Do you ever stop talking rubbish?

      • The Red Devil

        Do you ever address people’s points, rather than just being inflammatory?

        • Gwangi

          This is an insight into the strange hateful femi-brain of Liz:

          ‘If there’s one thing that we don’t need to improve this situation it’s masculination. ISIS are masculinisation crystallised. The solution is to castrate the lot of you’.

          So, Liz wants to castrate all men and stupidly thinks all wars are called by men and women are peaceful fluffy creature who never hate others – a rather silly point she disproves with ever nasty word she spits into this forum. Sad really, One can only wonder what sad experience with men cause her to be like this.

        • Liz

          You read that screed and I’m the one you consider inflammatory? Bizarro.

      • Gwangi

        Oh the manhating loon is back! I thought you’d joined ISIS for the opportunity to decapitate as many men as possible before you burst in a femi-splat of misandirst bile!
        I speak from experience. People DO automatically trust women more – and boy do manipulative women use that to get their way (cf Myra Hindley as an extreme example; any saleswoman as a mercenary example).
        Men are automatically suspected – of being dodgy, criminal, abusers, kiddie fiddlers – especially in our paedo-obsessed society – in which most children who are abused are abused by their parents and families and most babies and kids who are killed are killed by women actually…
        This is well known by all grown-ups who work in proper jobs (ie not you) for a living. It is why women’s voices are used on so many adverts and satnavs and answerphones.
        MRI scans show that women’s high voices do not register in the part of the brain that registers and assesses threats. Deep men’s voices do. So yet again your silly femi-splodge of fake theory and manhating venom is disproven by science.

      • Gwangi

        And here is evidence that Liz is a hateful, bitter, twisted, man-hating feminut:

        ” The solution is to castrate the lot of you”

        (quote from Liz on another forum – Liz clearly thinks men are to blame for all wars. HA! Women MOTIVATE all male violence, more like!)

  • Pat Conway

    The real shame lies not with animal charities but with irresponsible pet ownership, abandonment of pets, abuse and neglect of animals and wanton cruelty.

  • Simon Fay

    More micro-observation from the W1 clique posing as national concern that breathes life into the Union.

  • legent


  • Anna

    Why are these animal charities being so picky when people wish to adopt an animal from their organisation. Understandable that they need to do home checks great and necessary to ensure the animals have a second chance in life with the right people. We recently submitted an application to adopt a dog from a well known rescue home. they rang to go through some questions which were how high is your fence have you had experience with dogs etc etc. Told them we have taken in unwanted animals in the past. Told them we had a large secluded garden with surrounding countryside for walks dog won’t be left for long periods etc etc yet were turned down so hardly surprising these homes are bursting point. The process should be face to face not over the phone diagnosis as to you and home suitability yet they pay money to an agency to cold call and bombard you with the plight of animals. Surely they should take on board that people who contact them direct have the best interest at heart of the animals and wish to give the animal a good home and not see it languishing behind bars.