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The RSPCA has told H&H it will put in place a system to measure its response to welfare calls this year — but still cannot confirm when.

“A new auditing system will measure the level of service we provide to those who call us,” said an RSPCA spokesman. “This will include measuring how successful we are at letting people know the result of their calls about cruelty.”

Last summer the charity said it would review its system after admitting to H&H it had always been “particularly poor” at giving feedback to worried callers (news, 19 June 2008).

After the James Gray/Spindle Farm case in January, H&H received many complaints that the RSPCA had “seemingly done nothing”.

And this year H&H has received other complaints from people who made reports of suspected welfare cases that appeared to go unheeded.

Last month, we received an email from a reader stating: “I have phoned twice in three weeks about an urgent situation involving ponies, donkeys and dogs. I know no action has been taken and I am at a loss to know what to do.”

The spokesman said the RSPCA “did its best” to call back everyone who asked for any update, but sometimes “calls got put off” to deal with urgent welfare situations.

“We receive a call every 25 seconds — and inspectors investigate more than 100,000 complaints every year,” she said. “Rightly, the public has high expectations of us — but on some occasions we have to prioritise our work.”

This article was first published in Horse & Hound (5 March, ’09)