Hampshire has been named as one of the UK’s worst counties for the number of animal cruelty reports.
More than 4,000 complaints were investigated by the RSPCA last year.
The charity has said the surge in calls nationally is down to people becoming more aware and less tolerant of animal cruelty, rather than a sign people are becoming crueler.
The annual figures, released today, show Hampshire is ranked ninth in the country for complaints with 4,131, down slightly from 4,147 in 2015.
Last week The News spoke to RSPCA regional press officer Suzanne Norbury about the charity’s work to rescue neglected horses.
A total of 148,604 calls were received nationally, up five per cent from last year.
The catalogue of cruelty investigated in the south west includes 11 people sentenced for killing wildlife in Dorset, and horses left to starve by a man who ran a horse training business in Somerset.
The cases also include a horse trader from Portsmouth who was given a suspended prison sentence and disqualified from keeping horses for five years after failing to seek veterinary treatment for sick horses in his care.
Dermot Murphy, assistant director of the RSPCA Inspectorate, said: ‘People are increasingly likely to share images or footage on their social media accounts of animals they believe are not being cared for properly, while many will see material their friends have shared and then contact us about them.
‘Either way, our officers are under increased pressure having to respond to more calls and investigate more complaints, but it is thanks to their dedication, as well as RSPCA staff and volunteers across England and Wales that we are able to transform the lives of tens of thousands of animals each year.’
The number of people convicted of animal cruelty offences nationally was 684 in 2016, down from 754 in 2015.
Greater London had the most number of complaints last year with 11,812, followed by West Yorkshire (7,920) and Greater Manchester (7,708).