RSPCA reports rise in animal cruelty claims but fall in convictions

Buster the Mastiff from Eccles Image copyright RSPCA
Image caption Buster the Mastiff, from Eccles in Manchester, was emaciated when he was rescued - but is now "living it up" on a Mediterranean yacht

The RSPCA investigated more than 400 allegations of animal cruelty per day last year - a rise of nearly 5% compared to the previous 12 months.

The charity looked into 149,604 complaints compared to 143,004 in 2015, but the number of successful prosecutions fell more than 6% to 744.

It said the surge in complaints may be due to increased use of social media.

Prosecutions included snakes decapitated with scissors and a golden eagle kept in a cramped kitchen.

Image copyright RSPCA
Image caption Five men from Bradford appeared in court after posting a photo of badgers dug out of a sett on Instagram

Hotspots for complaints in 2016 were London, with 11,812, and West Yorkshire, with 7,920.

The regions subject to the most successful prosecutions were West Yorkshire, with 94, followed by North Yorkshire with 50.

Cases investigated included:

  • A bulldog repeatedly thrown down stairs and head-butted in North Yorkshire, all filmed on a mobile phone
  • A royal python and boa constrictor decapitated with scissors in Shropshire
  • Badgers in West Yorkshire dug out of a sett while dogs above ground were encouraged to attack them
  • A golden eagle kept in a cramped kitchen surrounded by tin cans and broken glass

Dermot Murphy, of the RSPCA, said: "I believe the figures show that we're not becoming crueller, but that people are simply less willing to stand by and do nothing if they think an animal is suffering.

"People are increasingly likely to share images or footage on social media of animals they believe are not being cared for properly."

Image copyright RSPCA
Image caption This golden eagle was found in a cramped kitchen full of broken glass and tin cans

Top counties for convictions

  1. West Yorkshire (94)
  2. North Yorkshire (50)
  3. West Midlands (49)
  4. Greater Manchester (38)
  5. Greater London (35)
  6. Lancashire (31)
  7. County Durham (26)
  8. Merseyside (24)
  9. Tyne & Wear (23)
  10. East Riding of Yorkshire (22) & South Yorkshire (22)

Source: RSPCA. Figures relate to 2016

Image copyright RSPCA
Image caption Scissors were used to cut off the heads of a two-metre royal python and a boa constrictor

Top counties for complaints

  1. Greater London (11,812)
  2. West Yorkshire (7,920)
  3. Greater Manchester (7,708)
  4. West Midlands (6,834)
  5. Kent (5,475)
  6. Lancashire (5,124)
  7. South Yorkshire (4,806)
  8. Essex (4,566)
  9. Hampshire (4,131)
  10. Merseyside (3,818)

Source: RSPCA. Figures relate to 2016

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