Magazine article The Spectator

Real Life: Melissa Kite

Magazine article The Spectator

Real Life: Melissa Kite

Article excerpt

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. …

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