RSPCA last week unveiled its animal cruelty statistics for
the year 2001, with a stark warning that unless animal welfare
is treated seriously by the Government and by magistrates
when offenders are prosecuted, the situation could spiral
At the launch of the charitys annual cruelty statistics,
the Society urged the Government to adopt its vision
for animal welfare in the 21st century. As the deadline for
submissions to the Governments review of animal welfare
legislation was reached, the Society wants the Government
to introduce a five-step duty of care to help
By adopting this duty of care, all animal owners
would have a legal responsibility to make sure that animals
have adequate food and water, appropriate shelter and access
to proper veterinary treatment when needed. Animal owners
would also be required to provide proper room for them to
express normal behaviour and to avoid mental suffering and
The RSPCAs annual cruelty statistics show categorically
that neglect is at the heart of virtually all cruelty cases
prosecuted by the Society. Of the 1,977 cases prosecuted under
the 1911 Protection of Animals Act last year, 1,761 (89%)
were classified as basic neglect charges. The Charity is calling
on the Government to update the century-old legislation to
meet the welfare problems of the 21st century.
After a year in which the RSPCA staff rescued or picked up
over 195,000 animals, responded to 1,509,317 phone calls (one
every 20 seconds) and secured 2,449 convictions, the Society
is frustrated that so many of these cases could be prevented
if legislation enabled the Society to act sooner.
Tony Crittenden, the RSPCAs chief officer of the Inspectorate,
said: The vast majority of cases could so easily have
been avoided. We must try to make the public aware of the
basic needs of animals and the long-term commitment owners
are required to give them. The 2,449 convictions we obtained
last year are 2,449 too many.
We are supposed to be a nation of animal lovers and
yet our inspectors come across some of the most distressing
cases of neglect and suffering day in day out. During 2001
the Inspectorate received over 123,000 complaints of cruelty.
This should not be happening in the 21st century and we hope
that the Government will update the animal welfare law to
enable us to act earlier in cases of suffering instead of
having to wait for the complaint that the animal is unwell,
injured or even dead.
RSPCA Cruelty Statistics 2001
- Five Most Common Offences (under Protection of Animals Act
Neglect 1761; Abandonment 80; Ill treatment 57; Improper Killing
34; Fighting 20:
- Five Most Common Offences (under Wildlife and Countryside
Possessing (Wild Birds) 86; Possess/Take Eggs 17; Possess
adapted cage 14; Illegal Possession (Wild Bird Eggs) 12; Confine
in small cage 9:
* In 2001, 48 convictions under the Protection of Animals
(Amendment) Act 1954 were for keeping animals whilst disqualified.
* There were 80 life disqualification orders (for all animals)
* 46 prison sentences were imposed
* 734 banning orders were given
* Cruelty to dogs 871 1,333
* Cruelty to cattle/livestock/pigs
* Cruelty to cats 289 186
* Cruelty to horses/donkeys
* Wildlife convictions**
* Complaints investigated
* Convictions 2,449 2,718
* Phone calls 1, 509,317 1,156,696
* Rescues 11,947 2,605
* Collections** 184,706
**no records held at that time
from RSPCA files - 2001
Throat Slashed Up To 15 Times
Inspector Marie Griffiths
A 24-year-old man who appealed against conviction for slashing
a puppys throat up to 15 times was finally jailed for
Gareth Robins continued to deny causing horrific injuries
to five-month-old crossbreed Ben, despite overwhelming circumstantial
evidence against him.
Robins had used a sharp instrument, which a vet described
as something like a Stanley knife, to make up to 15 cuts in
Bens neck. The wounds were so severe that the puppys
jugular vein was exposed. The vet said it was only by sheer
luck that no large blood vessels had been severed.
Robins, then living in Middleton Road, Chadderton, Oldham,
maintained that he had nothing to do with the injuries. He
and a friend had taken Ben to a police station initially claiming
him to be a stray.
At Oldham Magistrates Court in October 2001, Robins was convicted
of two counts of causing unnecessary suffering to Ben. He
was jailed for two months but was released on bail after lodging
At Minshull Street Crown Court, Manchester, in October last
year, Robins lost his appeal against conviction.
Despite the severity of his injuries, Ben made a remarkable
recovery. He was rehomed by the RSPCA and is now called Reggie.
Inspector Marie Griffiths said: This was a very difficult
case and we were delighted at the successful outcome. Robins
did not show any remorse for this appalling act of deliberate
cruelty on a defenceless little puppy.
Starved To Death In House Full Of Food
Inspector Graham Hammond
More than 60 dogs, cats, kittens and puppies, some of which
had starved to death, were discovered in horrific conditions
in a house in Reading - even though there were 1,600 tins
of pet food stacked in the porch.
Among the horrific scenes found at the semi-detached property
in Southcote in July 2001, were the skeletal remains of three
kittens. Twenty-three cats were also discovered crammed in
a rabbit hutch the garden.
RSPCA inspectors - almost overcome by the putrid smell of
animal waste - found dozens of cats and dogs infested with
fleas and ear mites and covered in excrement. Several emaciated
Jack Russell dogs were living in an upstairs box room, bedroom
walls were soaked with urine and floors throughout the house
were littered with faeces. A vet described the scene as far
exceeding the worst situation I have dealt with.
Michelle Chaplin, 32, and Keith Lambert, 35, of Southcote
Lane, both pleaded guilty to nine charges of causing unnecessary
suffering to 36 of the animals - nine dogs and 27 cats - when
they appeared before Reading magistrates. They were banned
from keeping all animals for life and ordered to pay £8,050
in costs between them when they were sentenced in November
2001. Both were also conditionally discharged for three years.
The court heard how the couple had devoted all their financial
resources and energies into caring for the animals and that
Chaplin suffered from a compulsive disorder, which had led
to her spending around £5,000 in six months on pets,
most of them from a pet shop in Reading.
All but one of the animals - a cat which was euthanased on
veterinary advice because of its condition - were rehomed
by the RSPCA. The cats and dogs are now living in new homes
across, Surrey, Hampshire and Berkshire.
Inspector Hammond said: This case will haunt me for
the rest of my life. I have never seen that many animals being
kept in such squalor. People may have the best intentions,
but by taking in more animals than they can care for they
end up doing more harm than good.
Found With Chronically Inflamed Skin
Inspector Steve Roach
A West Highland white terrier was discovered by the RSPCA
with chronic hair loss and inflamed skin at a house in Exeter.
RSPCA inspector Steve Roach called at the home of Sonia Forgham
at Arena Park in April 2001 and found her dog Windsor with
a skin condition, which made him itch unbearably and smell
unpleasant. A vet said he estimated it had taken many weeks
or even months for Windsor to deteriorate into the state in
which he was found. He said the dog was suffering from chronic
Forgham pleaded guilty at Exeter magistrates of causing unnecessary
suffering to Windsor, who she had owned for five years. She
said she had in the past sought veterinary treatment for the
dog but the condition kept returning.
She was given a one year conditional discharge and ordered
to pay costs of £500 but was not given a ban on keeping
Windsor has now fully recovered and has been rehomed.
Inspector Steve Roach said: Its frustrating to
think that this could have easily been prevented. Windsor
had suffered over a considerable period of time and we would
like to see magistrates have to give their reasons as to why
they feel it is not appropriate to give a ban.
Eight Cats And Dogs Kept In Caravans
Inspector John Grant
Thirty-eight cats and dogs were found living a miserable existence
in a collection of caravans and a shed in Skegness. Some had
suffered from scalding as urine and faeces dripped down onto
them from cages stacked above.
One dog had to be put to sleep immediately because the pads
on its paws had rotted away as a result of standing in its
own mess. All of the animals were underweight, some of them
emaciated, and many had severely overgrown nails and flea
animals owner, Emlyn Evans, 48, of West End, Hogsthorpe,
pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to the animals.
His solicitor said he was struggling to cope but had kept
all the animals to save them from being put to sleep.
In January 2001, Skegness magistrates jailed Evans for four
months and imposed a lifetime ban from keeping any animals.
RSPCA inspector John Grant said: The conditions these
animals were kept in were disgraceful and I was pleased to
see that the magistrates acknowledged the severity of Evans
It is unacceptable for people to accumulate large numbers
of animals then fail to give them proper care. Theres
no doubt all these animals suffered in the hands of Evans.
This could so easily have been prevented. People may have
the best intentions, but by taking in more animals than they
can care for they end up doing more harm than good.
All the cats and dogs have now been rehomed.
Shih Tzu Resembled Heap of Dirty Rags
Newcastle, Tyne and Wear
Inspector Gaye Bayliss
When RSPCA inspector Gaye Bayliss spotted 12-year-old Shih
tzu Ben, she couldnt even tell he was a dog.
Ben, owned by Keith Henderson, 56, of Valley View, Lemington,
Newcastle, had not been groomed for at least a year and resembled
an untidy heap of dirty rags.
Inspector Bayliss discovered Bens plight when she was
called to Hendersons house following a tip-off that
the dog had a limp. Ben, who was kept in the kitchen, was
covered in so much dirty, long, matted fur that he had developed
a heart murmur due to lack of exercise, as he was scarcely
able to move. The fur on his feet resembled flippers and his
ears were infected and sore.
was immediately taken to a vet where his coat was sheared
off while he was sedated. It was only when the vet began to
cut away Bens fur that he discovered a collar which
had become embedded in the dogs neck and was hidden
from view by the overgrown coat.
Henderson appeared before Newcastle Magistrates Court
in October 2001, charged with neglecting Ben under the 1911
Protection of Animals Act. He was banned from keeping any
animals for life, fined £500 and ordered to pay £1,243
Inspector Bayliss said: When I first saw Ben it was
impossible to tell which end was which or even that he was
a dog. It would have taken at least a year for his coat to
grow into such a state.
His neck was red raw from where the collar had bitten
in and his ears were in a terrible state because they had
never been checked. Thankfully, the magistrates recognised
the seriousness of this case and imposed a life ban on keeping
animals, which we were satisfied with.
If only magistrates would impose more bans on people
who ill-treat animals, we would have more confidence that
animals in the future will be protected from harm.
Ben, who was fostered while his case was waiting to come to
court, was eventually adopted by his foster family because
they became so attached to him. Sadly Ben suffered a severe
stroke in December and was euthanased on veterinary advice
to prevent further suffering.