England

Devon and Cornwall animal cruelty cases double

Rosie Image copyright RSPCA
Image caption Rosie's owner in Cornwall was disqualified from keeping animals for five years after leaving a skin disease on the Jack Russell untreated for six months

Animal cruelty crimes have more than doubled in Devon and Cornwall in the last five years say police.

In 2009 there were 30 cases of animal cruelty reported to police but so far in 2014, there have already been 66 cases.

A freedom of information request by the BBC revealed cases of animals being beaten, stabbed or blow torched to death.

Other offences included beheadings and paws being cut off.

Image copyright RSPCA
Image caption Thirty one horses were discovered standing in pools of slurry, with little food and several were suffering from severe malnutrition in Torrington, Devon

In other cases, dogs were dragged along by vehicles, a goldfish was fried in a pan, a guinea pig was found skinned with innards removed and a pet snake was cut in half.

Almost 30% of the cases in the last five years relate to cats being shot.

Cases such as a puppy being stabbed resulted in a caution.

Of the 342 offences investigated by Devon and Cornwall Police since 2009, 10% have resulted in a charge, with most cases pending investigation or no suspect identified.

Wildlife crime officer Sgt Robert Bolt said: "It is very worrying that a number of individuals who are committing horrific offences against animals do appear to be getting away with it.

"But we are doing as much as we can. We have officers investigating every offence."

The RSPCA, which also handles cases of animal cruelty, saw a rise in convictions from 33 in 2011 to 47 in 2012.

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