Region’s animal cruelty shame laid bare

Cruelty complaints investigated by the RSPCA have risen for the second year running
Cruelty complaints investigated by the RSPCA have risen for the second year running

“DISTURBINGLY inventive” methods were used to inflict cruelty on animals last year, the RSPCA has said, as it revealed the number of complaints about animal treatment rose once again.

West Yorkshire was eclipsed only by Greater London as the county were the highest number of complaints were investigated by the charity, 8,440.

South Yorkshire was seventh with 5,158 complaints.

The regional picture was a sad reflection of the national figures, with a rise of complaints for Yorkshire as a whole, up from 18,356 in 2013 to 19,080 last year.

However, despite a rise in complaints - less people were convicted on animal welfare charges.

Last year, 224 people were convicted of 494 animal cruelty-related offences in Yorkshire, compared with 286 people convicted of 707 offences in 2013.

West Yorkshire had more people convicted than anywhere else in England and Wales, with 93 people convicted of 211 offences. North Yorkshire and the East Riding came fifth and seventh.

Leanne Plumtree, RSPCA for Yorkshire spokesperson, said the charity would only prosecute if there was sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of a conviction. Last year, just 40 per cent of suspects reported to its Prosecutions Department were prosecuted.

She said: “The aim of the RSPCA is to prevent cruelty and in most cases investigated by our inspectors the welfare of animals is improved by the dispensing of advice and education. In 2014 we issued 82,746 welfare and advice notices, compared with 76,810 in 2013. The vast majority of this advice is followed by owners who do want to do their best for their animals.”

Convictions for cruelty last year included “horror of huge proportions” at a farm in West Layton, Richmondshire, where 350 dead and dying animals were found by inspectors. A Bradford man was jailed for 16 weeks after causing a horse to die on Bridlington beach, and a Barnsley couple were convicted after allowing their emaciated cat to suffer so badly, it was put to sleep.

Nationally, cruelty complaints rose for the second year in a row. These included a puppy filmed being kicked and having its head trapped in a door in Cumbria and a cat hit by a car and kicked like a football in Lancashire.

RSPCA chief veterinary officer James Yeates said: “It is extremely concerning that we are still receiving more than 20,000 complaints about animals being deliberately caused to suffer and that’s 20,000 too many.

“Most 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 shocking that in 2014 people are still being deliberately cruel in what can be disturbingly inventive ways.”

Last year also saw five prosecutions relating to the Neknomination craze, which saw several people take part in ‘dares’ involving swallowing live fish, frogs and even a lizard.