RSPCA animal cruelty caseload rises to almost 150,000 investigations
The number of animal cruelty investigations by the RSPCA jumped by nearly 5% last year to more than 400 a day, according to figures released by the animal welfare charity.
In its annual the RSPCA said it had investigated almost 150,000 cases in 2016. Calls to its 24-hour cruelty hotline rose by nearly 4%, averaging one every 27 seconds.
Dermot Murphy, assistant director of the RSPCA inspectorate, said he thought that rather than the figures representing a rise in cruelty they suggested that more people were sharing abuse images on social media, leading to more investigations.
He said: “I believe that the figures from last year show that we’re not becoming more cruel, 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.”
A total of 149,604 complaints of animal abuse were investigated by the RSPCA in 2016, including the case of Reo, a nine-year-old German shepherd who was whimpering in agony when she was found, suffering from open wounds on her ears, jaw and eye. Her owner was banned from keeping animals for life after being prosecuted by the RSPCA. The charity said the dog was now thriving in her new home.
Other cases highlighted in the RSPCA report include:
- A bulldog repeatedly thrown down a flight of stairs, stamped upon and headbutted;
- A royal python and boa constrictor which were both decapitated with a pair of scissors;
- A shih-tzu dog repeatedly stabbed in the face and neck with a kitchen knife before being left to die in broad daylight;
- Badgers dug out of a sett and a waiting pack of dogs encouraged to attack them as their ordeal was filmed on a mobile phone;
- A golden eagle kept in a cramped kitchen, surrounded by broken glass and empty tin cans.
Murphy said: “It never fails to shock me when I look back on the extreme instances of animal cruelty the RSPCA has been called upon to investigate. 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.”
The majority of complaints received by the RSPCA were about the welfare of dogs (84,994), followed by cats (36,156) and equines (19,530).
The highest number of complaints investigated were in Greater London (11,812), West Yorkshire (7,920) and Greater Manchester (7,708).
Murphy said: “People might see these figures as a negative, and I certainly take no satisfaction from knowing that any animal has suffered. What I do take pride in is knowing that because of the RSPCA’s intervention we have prevented many more animals from suffering at the hands of those whom we have successfully investigated and brought before the courts.”