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RSPCA Reports Rise in Animal Cruelty

The RSPCA investigated more than 400 allegations of animal cruelty per day last year – an increase of almost 5% compared to the previous 12 months.

In figures released today, the RSPCA says it received 1.15million calls last year, averaging one every 27 seconds.

The RSPCA’s leading inspector believes the surge in calls to Britain’s biggest animal welfare charity is down to the public seeing more animal cruelty through images and films being shared on social media.

A total of 149,604 complaints of animal abuse were investigated by the RSPCA last year.

These include the case of Reo – a nine-year-old German Shepherd who was whimpering in agony from the open wounds on her ears, jaw and eye when she was found. Her owner was banned from keeping animals for life after being prosecuted by the RSPCA, and Reo is now thriving in her new home.

Other shocking cases of cruelty investigated by RSPCA officers included:

  • 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 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 whilst the ordeal was filmed on a mobile phone.
  • A golden eagle kept in a cramped kitchen, surrounded by broken glass and empty tin cans

Dermot Murphy, Assistant Director of the RSPCA Inspectorate, 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.

“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.

Dermot added: “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 statistics:

In 2016, the RSPCA:

  • Received 1,153,744 calls to its 24 hour cruelty line (up by 3.15%)
  • Investigated 149,604 complaints of alleged animal cruelty (up by 4.62%)
  • Issued 84,725 advice and improvement notices (up by 3.99%)
  • Successfully prosecuted 744 people (down by 6.53%)
  • Secured 628 disqualification orders following prosecution (down 4.46%)
  • Had a prosecution success rate of 92.5% (up by 0.1%)

The majority of complaints received by the RSPCA in 2016 continued to be 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). The most people convicted of animal cruelty offences were from West Yorkshire (94), followed by 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 – up to 84,725, compared with 81,475 in 2015.  This is over 95% of all notices given out showing the importance of prevention in the RSPCA’s work.

The latest RSPCA statistics featured in the charity’s Prosecutions Annual Report 2016 and are released almost 10 years after the Animal Welfare Act was introduced into England and Wales, making it possible for the RSPCA to intervene earlier and prevent an animal suffering.

Since the Animal Welfare Act came into force in 2007 the RSPCA has secured convictions for breaches of the legislation relation to more than 25,000 animals, including 15,787 dogs, 3,650 cats and 2,525 equines.

Since 2007 there have been 8,706 disqualification orders on keeping some or all animals issued by the courts following RSPCA prosecutions.

“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 who we have successfully investigated and brought before the courts,” added Dermot Murphy.


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