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22 April 2015, 06:43
The number of complaints about animal cruelty to the RSPCA has increased for the second year in a row.
Annual figures for 2014 show officers investigated 159,831 complaints in 2014 compared to 153,770 in 2013 - a rise of almost 4%.
Nearly 5,000 were in Hampshire and 2,000 in Dorset.
Overall in the south east region there were 42,433 complaints in 2014, compared to 40,576 in 2013 - an increase of 5.6%.
20,258 of the national complaints involved alleged deliberate and often violent cruelty being inflicted upon animals. This was up from 19,683 in 2013.
A man from Southampton was banned from keeping animals after being filmed dangling his cat by its tail.
He pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to Daisy the cat in his studio flat in September 2013.
The 27-year-old claimed at first that he was not showing off, but was preparing the cat for a visit by someone who had a tendency to pull cats' tails.
However, while he maintained his reason for pulling the cat's tail, he admitted before the magistrates an element of bravado when he acted in the way that he had.
RSPCA inspector Penny Baker said:
"The 10 year ban handed down by the court shows how seriously they viewed these offences.
"He is very lucky that the cat wasn't more seriously injured. Daisy was less than a year old at the time and didn't weigh much. If he had done that when she was older and heavier then he could have caused serious damage to her spine."
The owner was also fined £150 and also ordered to pay £257.50 costs.
A man from Waterlooville was ordered to do 80 hours of unpaid work after admitting causing unnecessary suffering to a frog and a lizard by swallowing them, contrary to s.4 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006.
The 23-year-old man was also ordered to pay £1,200 in costs by Portsmouth magistrates after he changed his plea to guilty on the first day of his trial.
The small frog and lizard were swallowed by the defendant in February 2014 as part of the Neknominate craze. He was seen on footage that he posted on Facebook putting first the frog and then the lizard into a glass of water and swallowing them whilst they were still clearly moving.
RSPCA inspector Alan Browning said:
"The two small animals would have suffered considerably during this incident, going through the distress of being swallowed and coming into contact with stomach acids.
"We hope this sick game is now on the decline as it is just not acceptable to subject animals to this sort of ordeal."
The RSPCA appealed to find the owners of a starving whippet who was found severely underweight and covered in sores in Dorset in November 2014.
Bramble, the three-year-old whippet, was discovered by a member of the public in Abbotsbury in Weymouth and was so underweight her bones could be clearly seen and she had painful sores over her body and tail.
RSPCA inspector John Pollock said:
"Poor Bramble was so thin, she was just skin and bones and had sores all over her body.
"This poor girl needed plenty of tender loving care as she was so thin and the sores were deep and infected. It was desperately sad to see.
"We do not know how long she had been like this and was picked up as a stray. She was in a bad way and despite appeals we never managed to track down her owner."
Bramble did recover and was rehomed. She was even a finalist in the RSPCA Ruffs awards earlier this year which celebrate the lives of amazing rescue dogs.
Paul Stilgoe, RSPCA superintendent for the south east, said:
“Once again we have been shocked by just how vicious people can be to animals - and it seems a large number of these cases are happening here - in this region. London is at the top of the list of counties in terms of number of complaints and Kent is not far behind. This is not a list anyone can be proud of leading.
“Many 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 utterly unacceptable that in 2014 people are still being deliberately cruel in what can be disturbingly inventive ways.”
The pets most likely to fall victim to alleged deliberate cruelty 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 1,029 people convicted of animal welfare offences in 2014, down from 1,371 in 2013.
The vast majority of RSPCA work is improving animal welfare by giving advice to owners.
RSPCA chief veterinary officer James 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.”