RSPCA reports big rise in cruelty to animals

Dogs are most likely to fall victim to alleged deliberate abuse, according to the RSPCA
Dogs are most likely to fall victim to alleged deliberate abuse, according to the RSPCA

Cyclist injured in Gosport robbery

  • Hampshire named as blackspot in charity’s annual report
  • Cases include cat dangled by tail for mobile phone film
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Deliberate cruelty to pets in Hampshire is on the increase, the RSPCA revealed today.

The charity named the county as a blackspot as revealed the number of complaints about animal treatment it investigated rose again last year.

It dealt with 159,831 complaints in 2014, compared to 153,770 in 2013.

In Hampshire it investigated 4,713 cases, up on the 2013 total of 4,586. In West Sussex the tally was 2,131, an increase of 1,967 on the previous year’s figure.

One in eight of the complaints it looked into, a total of 20,258 cases, involved alleged deliberate and often violent cruelty to animals, the RSPCA said.

Some of the animals abused in 2014 in this region included a missing cat found tied to a fence by his neck in Hampshire, causing an open wound and a cat whose owner dangled him by his tail whilst being filmed on a mobile phone in Hampshire.

It is extremely concerning that we are still receiving more than 20,000 complaints about animals being deliberately caused to suffer and that’s 20,000 too many

RSPCA chief veterinary officer James Yeates

Last year also saw five prosecutions relating to the Neknomination online craze in which several people took part in ‘dares’ involving swallowing live fish, frogs and even a lizard. One of these was in the south west - a man was filmed swallowing a frog and lizard in Hampshire.

Nationally, horrific examples of cruelty to animals include a Staffie puppy in Cumbria caught on camera being thrown, kicked and having his head trapped in a door and a dog named Ziggy who was found shot in the head with a 20-inch crossbow bolt near Peterborough.

Other cases saw a rabbit die in agony after being microwaved in Gloucestershire, a cat who had been run over in Lancashire die after being kicked like a football by a passer-by instead of being helped, and an eight-week-old Jack Russell terrier puppy from East Sussex left with a painful raw wound when its tail was cut off.

RSPCA chief veterinary officer James Yeates said: “It is extremely concerning that we are still receiving more than 20,000 complaints about animals being deliberately caused to suffer and that’s 20,000 too many.

“Most of the complaints we receive involve animals being neglected or not receiving the right care and often we can put that right by offering welfare advice.

“However, it is shocking that in 2014 people are still being deliberately cruel in what can be disturbingly inventive ways.”

The number of convictions and people convicted for animal cruelty fell last year, however, with 1,029 people convicted of animal welfare crimes in 2014 in England and Wales, down from 1,371 in 2013.

There were five prosecutions relating to the “Neknomination” craze online in which several people took part in “dares” involving swallowing live fish, frogs and even a lizard, the RSPCA said.

The pets most likely to fall victim to alleged deliberate cruelty were dogs, the majority of which were reported as being beaten, followed by cats, and then rabbits and small animals.

But the charity said many owners listened to advice given by RSPCA inspectors, with the number of people who were offered and accepted welfare advice increasing from 76,810 in 2013 to 82,746 in 2014.

Mr Yeates said: “Our aim is always to prevent cruelty so it’s really positive that a greater number of people followed our advice.

“Crucially this means that although we are still receiving complaints about cruelty we are often getting to incidents before suffering has occurred and helping owners to provide for their animals, whether that means getting veterinary care for them or just giving them the right diet.

“Sadly, though, where cruelty is still happening there will be a need to prosecute in the most serious cases and it is upsetting that so many people are still mistreating animals by deliberately causing them harm or by not providing them with the care they deserve.”

The RSPCA’s annual figures for 2014 show that cruelty complaints investigated by the charity in the south west and central England – which includes Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Avon & Somerset, Hampshire, Isle of Wight, Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Northamptonshire, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire – have gone up once again.

The charity investigated 28,800 complaints in the south west and central England in 2014 compared to 28,573 in 2013. A shocking 3,594 of these complaints involved alleged deliberate and often violent cruelty being inflicted upon animals. The counties featuring in high places in the list of complaints investigated were Hampshire which was at number nine with 4,713 complaints; Devon at number 13 with 3,606 complaints and Nottinghamshire at number 16 with 3,486 complaints.

RSPCA superintendent for the South West, John Grant, said: “It is extremely concerning that we are still receiving so many complaints about animals being deliberately caused to suffer.

“Both Hampshire and Devon were in the top 15 counties to receive the most complaints about alleged cruelty in 2013 and 2014 - this is not a list anyone would want to feature in.”

“Most of the complaints we receive involve animals being neglected or not receiving the right care and often we can put that right by offering welfare advice. However, it is shocking that in 2014 people are still being deliberately cruel in what can be disturbingly inventive ways.”

A spokesman said: ‘The RSPCA is a charity that relies on public donations to investigate complaints received and to care for many thousands of sick, injured and badly treated animals every year. To help, please text HELP to 78866 to give £3 (texts cost £3 plus one standard network rate message)’