There was a time when I believed that RSPCA was a respectable and caring organisation. Not any more.

During the prolonged drought in NSW, which affected my sister, Ruth Downey, for seven years, she managed to keep her cattle strong and healthy, though lean.

 In February 2007 she had difficulty getting good quality hay, which had to be sourced from interstate.  In a very short period her cattle lost condition. An unknown person reported her to the RSPCA.

Just one complaint is all it takes to have rude and belligerent  "Inspectors" , accompanied by a cavalcade of vehicles, carrying people from government departments,  laying down the ultimatum that cows must have a certain  "beef-fat score". This may be fair enough for beef cattle but Ruth's cows were all dairy breeds or dairy-cross, which can never acquire the shape of beef cattle, no matter how well-fed they are.

From March through to June the cows continued to improve.  Cows which she had successfully nursed through pregnancy toxaemia, which occurs during drought, recovered and produced healthy calves without the need of veterinary assistance, or any help from Ruth.

When RSPCA visited Ruth in May, and stated that this was their final visit, the whole family heaved a sigh of relief. Common sense at last.

On 14 June 2007 Ruth had fed her cows with a protein supplement  and was dressed ready to go to Tamworth for a dental appointment.  She had prepared detailed instructions for her sister, on a neighbouring property, to complete the feeding a little later. Ruth was about to have breakfast.

Without any warning whatsoever the cavalcade rolled up bent on destruction. The RSPCA "Inspector" shot 48 of her cattle, using a high-powered rifle.

RSPCA Australia has guidelines for humane killing which state that large animals should be humanely killed by firing one bullet directly into the vital spot in the head.  A second bullet is fired only to ensure that the animal is definitely dead.

Many of Ruth's cattle were shot from the side. Several managed to rise again after being hit. Some received 4 bullets.  The carnage went on for most of the day as many cows put up resistance, one even going through two fences before being shot.

Ruth's family, indeed the whole community, was shocked. No-one could believe that RSPCA would shoot healthy cattle that Ruth had looked after so well and so lovingly throughout those long, unrelenting drought years. But it happened.

Ruth's  cattle, though lean, had shiny coats and bright eyes.  They chewed the cud contentedly. The mothers licked their calves fondly and the little calves cavorted happily.

On 14 June 2007 RSPCA took not one  photograph of a living cow.

Photos of healthy cows would not bring a successful  prosecution.

Each animal was photographed after the shooting and after its stomach was slashed to ensure that no gas remained.  Collapsed bodies would be thin enough to impress a magistrate.

RSPCA charges, if successful, lead to the owner being fingerprinted and branded a criminal. Heavy fines and/or a gaol sentence are imposed. Why are such serious charges heard only by a magistrate? A jury should be an essential component of a criminal trial.

During the slaughter, thirteen little calves, some only 3 days old, were deprived of their mothers.  The gang, including two vets, went off well-satisfied with the day's shooting. Not one person in the entire gang enquired if Ruth had any substitute milk for these little calves, which had been chased around all day, as they attempted to go through the gate after their dead mothers.

 The cows that were massacred included those that Ruth had nursed through pregnancy toxaemia.

Rain has fallen since this appalling slaughter. Ruth could have been in a good financial position now. Instead she faces a costly court case, having been charged with aggravated cruelty and failing to feed and water her cattle. This is ludicrous. It is so ludicrous that RSPCA is employing SENIOR COUNSEL  as well as their regular solicitor and barrister.

Whatever the outcome of the case nothing  can alter the fact that on 14 June 2007 RSPCA, aided and abetted by Government Departments,  committed an atrocity which can never be obliterated.

By Ellen Ash. A web site with the full details about this issue is presently being prepared.