On the face of it, a steep rise in the number of prosecutions for cruelty to animals is not good news. But, as RSPCA inspector Jenny Ride reminds us today, that dark cloud does at least have a silver lining.
For it indicates that more people are contacting the charity to report their suspicions and fears, or to provide hard evidence of mistreatment.
And the increase in the number of those convicted under the Animal Welfare Act, as well as rises in the total of bans on keeping animals and the number of prison sentences imposed for animal cruelty, indicates prosecutors and the courts are doing their jobs in bringing offenders to book.
Regrettably, there are still many who consider it acceptable to mistreat a defenceless animal. In all, 545 people were reported to the RSPCA prosecutions department last year – a rise of around 60 per cent on the 2010 figure. How people can be so cruel to animals is beyond the wit of most of us.
Take the case of the collie cross called Red, whose horrifying experiences we report today.
It beggars belief that such a loveable dog could be beaten, thrown, kicked and strangled by his owner for the simple ‘reason’ that the poor little pet did not stand still to have his paws wiped.
We are pleased that his owner has been banned from keeping animals for life and hope that his sentence of 300 hours of unpaid work will hurt him.
As for Red, he has since been found a loving new home by staff at the Stubbington Ark, where each year so many animals are given refuge.
All that costs money, as does the process of investigating and prosecuting the vile minority of pet owners and other people who think it is acceptable to cause suffering to animals.
So we hope that today readers inspired by the story of Red and by the work of staff at the Ark will give financial support to the RSPCA, a charity to which so many animals owe their wellbeing if not their very lives.
And we hope anyone who has a suspicion or evidence that an animal is being mistreated will call the RSPCA without delay.