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22 April 2015, 06:27 | Updated: 22 April 2015, 06:36
A dog found near Peterborough with a crossbow bolt through his skull, was one of the worst cases of animal cruelty seen by the RSPCA last year - as they say they've seen cruelty and neglect complaints go up.
The RSPCA investigated 159,831 complaints in 2014 compared to 153,770 in 2013. The number of complaints investigated in Cambridgeshire in 2014 was 2685, compared to 2454 in 2013.
A shocking 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.
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."
Some of the stand out cases of animal cruelty in 2014 included:
- An eight-week-old Jack Russell terrier puppy from East Sussex who was left in agonising pain and with a raw wound after his tail was cut off;
- A cat who was held down in a bucket of water and drowned by her owner in West Sussex;
- A dog named Ziggy who was found shot in the head with a 20-inch crossbow bolt near Peterborough;
- A Yorkshire terrier who was caught on CCTV being suspended by the neck and beaten over the head several times in Essex;
- A cat so neglected that she huge infected tumour on her face which had eaten into her jaw bone in Kent; and
- Chilling mobile phone footage showed a teenager kicking a cat and brutally beating a dog in Bedfordshire
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. In July a 20 year-old Lowestoft man was one of the first people to be prosecuted by the RSPCA
for swallowing two goldfish and posting the footage online.
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."