Shake Paws

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Cruel Britannia: RSPCA reports a sharp increase in animal abuse cases in 2016

by Shake Paws

The RSPCA’s cruelty figures show it investigated almost 150,000 complaints, most of which involved the welfare of dogs

Animal cruelty, Charlie, RSPCACharlie, now Ned, was just one of the cruelty cases investigated by the RSPCA in 2016 – thankfully, he is now thriving in his new home. Photo: RSPCA

The Royal Society for the Protection of Animals (RSPCA) investigated more than 400 allegations of animal cruelty every day last year, an increase of nearly 5% compared to 2015.

Calls to the society’s 24-hour cruelty hotline rose by nearly 4%, amounting to more than 1.15 million calls across the year and averaging one every 27 seconds.

In total, some 149,604 complaints of animal abuse were investigated by the society last year.

Examples of cases investigated by RSPCA offers include:

  • A royal python and boa constrictor which were both decapitated with a pair of scissors.
  • A Shih-tzu repeatedly stabbed in the face and neck with a kitchen knife before being left to die.
  • A Bulldog repeatedly thrown down a flight of stairs, stamped upon and headbutted.

“It continues to outrage and sadden me that people can be capable of such deliberate brutality towards animals, but equally it drives me on to ensure that perpetrators of animal cruelty are put before the courts,” said the RSPCA’s Dermot Murphy.

“I believe that the figures from last year show that we’re not becoming crueler, but that people are simply less willing to stand by and do nothing if they think an animal is suffering.

“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 majority of complaints received by the society in 2016 were about the welfare of dogs (84,994), followed by cats (36,156) and equines (19,530).

In regional terms, the highest number of complaints investigated were in Greater London (11,812), West Yorkshire (7920) and Greater Manchester (7708), with the most people convicted of animal cruelty offences being from West Yorkshire (94), North Yorkshire (50) and the West Midlands (49).

There was also a rise in the number of owners who were offered and accepted welfare improvement advice and notices, a figure that rose to 84,725, compared with 81,475 in 2015.