West Yorkshire has been shamed as a hotbed of animal cruelty – with more people convicted of animal welfare offences in the county than anywhere else in England and Wales last year.
The RSPCA investigated 8,440 complaints of animal cruelty in West Yorkshire in 2014, second only to Greater London, with 93 people convicted in the courts – the highest number of all regions.
The shocking offences included two Leeds men banned from keeping pigs, rabbits and poultry for 10-years after dead and dying animals were found on an allotment.
Chickens were so emaciated inspectors could feel their bones, and a rabbit and a pig had to be put to sleep to end their suffering.
RSPCA inspector Rachel Oprysk said her heart sank when she arrived at the sheds where the animals were being held, and “it just got worse and worse” as the investigation continued.
Nationally, the number of cruelty complaints investigated by the charity has risen for the second year in a row.
The charity’s 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.”
Deliberately cruel thugs are finding “disturbingly inventive ways” of inflicting cruelty to animals.
The RSPCA investigated 159,831 complaints last year, up on the previous year, with West Yorkshire being second only to greater London for the number of complaints investigated.
In 2014, the charity investigated 8,440 complaints in the county - up more than 300 on 2013’s figures. Of these, 999 were direct cruelty cases, which include beating, improper killing, poisoning, trapping, mutilation and investigations related to fighting.
West Yorkshire also topped the league of shame which it came to convictions, with more people convicted of animal cruelty in the county than anywhere else in England and Wales.
Worryingly, despite a rise in the number of investigations - less people are people convicted through the courts.
Last year, 93 people were convicted of 211 animal cruelty-related offences, compared with 126 people convicted of 286 offences in 2013.
Leanne Plumtree, RSPCA spokesperson for Yorkshire, said the charity would only prosecute if there is sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of a conviction. Last year, only 40 per cent of suspects reported to the 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.”
Nationally, cruelty complaints rose for the second year in a row. These included a puppy filmed being kicked, thrown 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 online craze, which saw several people take part in ‘dares’ involving swallowing live fish, frogs and even a lizard.