HAMPSHIRE had the second highest number of animal cruelty convictions across the whole of the south, according to new figures released by the RSPCA.
Launched during RSPCA Week, the Prosecutions Annual Report shows that convictions for animal neglect and cruelty rose in England and Wales by nearly 34 per cent in 2012.
In Hampshire alone there were 87 convictions from 34 defendants.
Somerset topped the table with 105 convictions from 42 defendants.
In one of the more shocking cases, Carol Riches, from Gosport, was convicted of seven charges of animal cruelty and neglect, which saw three of her pet lizards having to be put down as a result of their injuries.
When RSPCA inspector Charlotte Eyden attended the home in Turner Avenue, she found six bearded dragon lizards in filthy conditions. Three were missing feet and for two, the injuries looked recent.
Outside were two dogs, tethered on short, tangled chains that meant they couldn’t even lie down.
They had no water and dog biscuits were scattered on the ground among their own faeces.
Both dogs showed signs of neglect and mistreatment.
The 42-year-old was banned from keeping reptiles for five years and fined £1,500 after pleading guilty at Fareham Magistrates’ Court.
She also received a 12-month conditional discharge and was ordered to pay £500 costs.
RSPCA chief executive Gavin Grant said: ‘We are leading the fight against a growing animal cruelty crisis. Our staff, volunteers and branches show tremendous dedication but they are struggling to keep up.
‘For us, prosecution is always the last resort. Our inspectors investigated 150,833 suspected cruelty cases and issued 78,090 advice notices last year – these are extremely effective in improving the care of animals.
‘However if there is evidence of a crime and serious animal abuse then we will take legal action to protect the animals and prevent further abuse. We also want to see judges taking these offences far more seriously.
‘More animals need our help than ever before and I urge everyone to dig deep and give us as much support as you can – hold a fundraising event during RSPCA Week, volunteer for us, or if you are able, please give a new home to an abandoned or abused animal.’
During RSPCA Week, which started yesterday, you can donate £3 by texting Week to 78866, donate by calling 0300 123 8181 or visit rspca.org.uk/act