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Cruelty on the increase
RSPCA cruelty statistics 2002

THE ANNUAL RSPCA Cruelty Statistics for the year 2002 make depressing reading, highlighting the sickness and sheer cruelty of some sections of our so-called ‘nation of animal lovers’. One is left with a sense of outrage, impotence and hopelessness at this rising tide of cruelty, although there is always the glimmer of hope, thanks to the efforts of the RSPCA’s dedicated Inspectors who daily fight on the front line to try and bring justice to suffering animals.

In a year that witnessed the emergence of UK-made ‘squish’ videos - featuring small animals being slowly and deliberately crushed to death - the RSPCA, like most sensible people, continues to be sickened by acts of deliberate and brutal cruelty.

Whilst 2001 highlighted many animals suffering due to ignorance and neglect, 2002 has exposed a darker side to the way some people treat animals. Although it is heartening to see a fall in numbers of cases prosecuted, those involving violence towards animals has risen with a total of 57 prison sentences imposed – up from 46 in 2001. In 2002 one in every 10 prosecutions involved a violent or brutal act on an animal.

In another busy year for the Society inspectors investigated 114,004 complaints, made over 54,500 advice visits, gave 4,775 verbal warnings, rescued 11,311 animals, and prosecuted 910 people for cruelty offences.

Perhaps of greatest concern are those instances of animal cruelty perpetrated by juveniles. Cases included a 14-year-old from Berkshire who fractured a kitten’s skull with a fence post, and a 15-year-old boy from Carmarthenshire who tortured his pet dog to death by slitting its throat and hanging it from a tree. Although there were just 15 juveniles convicted the level of violence shown is particularly disturbing and it is still 15 cases too many.

Tony Crittenden, the RSPCA’ s chief officer of the Inspectorate, said: "Every year we deal with cases that shock, but never before have we seen such a catalogue of horrifying and vicious acts of deliberate cruelty and torture towards defenceless animals. The fact that some of the worst incidents involve children is of particular concern. The images from some of these cases will stay in our inspectors’ minds for a long time."

Cruelty Case Studies

The RSPCA highlighted the worst cases from 2002 involving cruelty and outright violence towards animals. These include:

Dog Shot 13 Times In Head With Airgun - Aberdare, Wales

A man from Wales repeatedly shot and slashed his best friend’s dog. Concerned neighbours raised the alarm after hearing a dog crying for some time. The RSPCA inspector found that the defendant had shot the dog in the head 13 times with an airgun and then slashed it with a 10-inch knife before dumping the body in a wheelie bin wrapped in blood soaked carrier bags. Inside the defendant’s property there was blood all over the skirting boards and airgun pellets in the walls from where he had missed the dog. The 26-year-old from Aberdare was sentenced to five months imprisonment for what the magistrate called a ‘despicable act’ in which the dog suffered a long and painful death.

Whippet Stabbed To Death - Doncaster, South Yorkshire

A man from South Yorkshire stabbed his brother’s 10-month-old whippet with a kitchen knife whilst drunk. RSPCA officers found her in the bedroom, lying in a pool of blood, with a gaping wound to her stomach. A post mortem revealed that the man had used such force that the blade had penetrated her chest, lungs, diaphragm and liver. The 30-year-old from Doncaster was jailed for five months.

Eleven Puppies Die After Botched Tail-Docking - Birmingham, West Midlands

Eleven Rottweiler puppies died from severe blood loss and trauma after a ‘do-it-yourself’ tail docking went wrong. A Birmingham couple had paid £70 to a man who cut off the dogs’ tails with a Stanley knife. The cuts had been made at the base of the spinal column, exposing the spinal cord. No anaesthetic had been used. All the pups suffered from shock, circulatory collapse and hypothermia and within hours began to die. All three defendants were sentenced to three months’ imprisonment.

Dog’s Pelvis Shattered In Brutal Attack - King’s Lynn, Norfolk

A man from Norfolk admitted throwing his dog onto his concrete patio. The Staffordshire bull terrier’s inside hind leg was seriously bruised and swollen, and the dog was bleeding from her genital area. X-rays showed that her pelvis was severely fractured and her hip shattered into five pieces. The vet said that the impact was comparable to being hit by a car. The defendant was ordered to complete a 160-hour community punishment order. In 2003 he was re-sentenced to 6 weeks imprisonment after breaching his community punishment order.

Dog Blinded And Beaten In Violent Attack - Huddersfield, West Yorkshire

A man from Huddersfield blinded a small black and brown Alsatian-cross by stabbing the dog’s eyes with a sharp object, rupturing both eyeballs. The man also broke the dog’s jaw, and there were other wounds to his shoulder and neck. The man then took the animal and threw him over a wall into a canal. The dog was rescued from the canal but was severely traumatised. A vet immediately euthanased him. The 30-year-old defendant was sentenced to two months imprisonment.

Teenager Stabbed Dog In Throat - Cuckfield, Sussex

A 14 year-old from Sussex stabbed his dog in the neck with a pocketknife after being told he was not allowed to keep the dog at his home. The Saluki cross was taken to the vet suffering from a three-inch gash to her throat. The youth made a full admission saying ‘if I can’t have the dog then no-one else is going to have the satisfaction of having her.’ He was sentenced to an 11-month referral order.

Neglect Cases

Cases of animal neglect in 2002 also make for grim reading. Amongst the cases highlighted by the RSPCA were:

® A 14-year-old bearded collie resembling a ‘sheepskin rug’ was discovered by RSPCA inspectors at a house in Greater Manchester. The animal, which was found lying in excrement, had nearly 10 kg of severely matted fur clipped from his body. It was estimated that it had taken at least three years for the dog to get into such a state.

® A lurcher and her eight puppies starved to death after they were left alone for two weeks in a Tyneside flat. The dogs were discovered dead in the bathroom of the property two days before Christmas. The owner had not left any food or water for them.

® A spaniel from the West Midlands had such severely matted fur that when it was removed by a vet and weighed it turned out to be 15% of its body weight. The vet examining the dog estimated that it had taken at least six months to get into such a state. The animal had been kept in a filthy penned-in kennel in the back garden of a house.