Annual figures reveal more complaints of cruelty including a cat abandoned with severe head injuries and dumped dogs described as ‘bags of bones’
The RSPCA’s annual figures for 2014 show that cruelty complaints investigated by the charity in the south west and central England* have gone up once again.
More worrying still is that the numbers of complaints involving direct cruelty including beatings, improper killing, mutilation and poisonings formed 12.5% of the total number of complaints.
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.”
Some of the animals abused in 2014 included:
A cat who was dumped with severe head injuries caused by kicking in Buckinghamshire;
A Staffordshire bull terrier described as a ‘bag of bones’ dumped in Northampton;
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.
2014 was also the year that 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.
The pets most likely to fall victim to alleged deliberate cruelty nationally in 2014 were dogs (21,084), the majority of which (16,089) were reported as beaten, followed by cats (5,194) and rabbits and small animals (3,653)**.
But lots of owners listened to advice given by RSPCA inspectors. In 2014 the number of animal owners who were offered and accepted welfare advice increased from 76,810 in 2013 to 82,746 in 2014. Cases which had to be resolved by way of prosecution also decreased – with 105 people convicted of animal welfare offences in the south west and central England in 2014, down from 192 in 2013.
The vast majority of RSPCA work is improving animal welfare by giving advice to owners.
James Yeates, the RSPCA chief veterinary officer, 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 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).