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RSPCA animal cruelty caseload rises to almost 150,000 investigations

The number of animal cruelty investigations by the RSPCA jumped by nearly 5% last year to more than 400 a day, according to figures released by the animal welfare charity.

In its annual prosecutions report the RSPCA said it had investigated almost 150,000 cases in 2016. Calls to its 24-hour cruelty hotline rose by nearly 4%, averaging one every 27 seconds.

Dermot Murphy, assistant director of the RSPCA inspectorate, said he thought that rather than the figures representing a rise in cruelty they suggested that more people were sharing abuse images on social media, leading to more investigations.

He said: “I believe that the figures from last year show that we’re not becoming more cruel, 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 their social media accounts of animals they believe are not being cared for properly, while many will see material their friends have shared and then contact us about them.”

People persecuting badgers have been brought to the attention of the RSPCA.
People persecuting badgers have been brought to the attention of the RSPCA. Photograph: Nature Picture Library/Getty Images

A total of 149,604 complaints of animal abuse were investigated by the RSPCA in 2016, including the case of Reo, a nine-year-old German shepherd who was whimpering in agony when she was found, suffering from open wounds on her ears, jaw and eye. Her owner was banned from keeping animals for life after being prosecuted by the RSPCA. The charity said the dog was now thriving in her new home.

Other cases highlighted in the RSPCA report include:

  • A bulldog repeatedly thrown down a flight of stairs, stamped upon and headbutted;
  • A royal python and boa constrictor which were both decapitated with a pair of scissors;
  • A shih-tzu dog repeatedly stabbed in the face and neck with a kitchen knife before being left to die in broad daylight;
  • Badgers dug out of a sett and a waiting pack of dogs encouraged to attack them as their ordeal was filmed on a mobile phone;
  • A golden eagle kept in a cramped kitchen, surrounded by broken glass and empty tin cans.

Murphy said: “It never fails to shock me when I look back on the extreme instances of animal cruelty the RSPCA has been called upon to investigate. It continues to outrage and sadden me that people can be capable of such deliberate brutality towards animals. But equally it drives me on to ensure that perpetrators of animal cruelty are put before the courts.”

The majority of complaints received by the RSPCA were about the welfare of dogs (84,994), followed by cats (36,156) and equines (19,530).

The highest number of complaints investigated were in Greater London (11,812), West Yorkshire (7,920) and Greater Manchester (7,708).

Murphy said: “People might see these figures as a negative, and I certainly take no satisfaction from knowing that any animal has suffered. What I do take pride in is knowing that because of the RSPCA’s intervention we have prevented many more animals from suffering at the hands of those whom we have successfully investigated and brought before the courts.”

Article taken from: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/29/rspca-animal-cruelty-caseload-rises-to-almost-150000-investigations

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Cat and eight kittens found dumped in a suitcase

Article by RSPCA teams, 14th March 2017:

We are investigating after a cat and her eight kittens were found abandoned inside a zipped-up suitcase on a disused railway line in Essex.

The black and white cat, now named Tarini, and her five week-old babies were discovered by a passing dog walker in a remote spot between Great Yeldham and Castle Hedingham in Halstead, Essex on Tuesday, 7 March. They were inside a navy blue case with a Polo logo.

We were called and rescued Tarini and her kittens, after the passer by picked up the case and took them home for safety.

It was pure chance they were found

RSPCA Animal Collections Officer (ACO) Donna Smith said:

It was pure chance that this woman happened to find these little kittens and their mum.

She was walking along the disused rail track when she wandered past a dumped suitcase, not thinking anything of it until her dog stopped and started sniffing it.

She took a closer look and heard tiny miaows coming from the case, so opened the zip a tiny bit – and was shocked to discover nine pairs of eyes peering back.

The mother cat and eight kittens had been just zipped up in the case and discarded. Who knows how long they had been there – it must have been terrifying for them. It would not have ended well had this kindly woman not come to their rescue – I have no doubt they would have suffered for days.

Tarini is recovering well with her kittens

Blue suitcase cat and kittens were found in © RSPCA

We’re urging anyone with any information about how the cats came to be in such a secluded spot to call us, in complete confidence, on 0300 123 8018.

The cats are now in our care. They were all very thin, and looked to not have had much food for a while. Tarini had to be put on a drip, and received intensive care at the vets as she was also very dehydrated. She’s since recovered well and is back at an Essex centre with her kittens.

The kittens have all been named after characters from Disney film The Aristocats:

  • Toulouse (male, tabby/white),
  • Tiny Tim (male black/white),
  • Scat Cat (male, tabby),
  • Berloiz (male, black),
  • Alli (male tabby),
  • Duchess (female tabby),
  • Marie (female, black),
  • Eve (female tabby).

It’s hoped they will soon be available for rehoming. Anyone interested in rehoming them, or any other cats in our care, should keep an eye out on find a pet.

Article taken from: https://www.rspca.org.uk/whatwedo/latest/details/-/articleName/2017_03_14_cat_and_kittens_found

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Animal Abusers get reprieve as anonymous MP ‘objects’ to progress

Article by Tom Sheppard, League Against Cruel Sports, 28th February 2017:

On Friday, February 24th, there were two pieces of legislation due to be debated in the Commons: Animal Fighting (Sentencing) Bill and Animal Cruelty (Sentencing) Bill. Each had differences, but their essential aims were the same: increase the penalties available to courts for animal cruelty offences.

England and Wales currently have the lowest penalties in Europe for such offences. So it’s difficult to imagine an objection to increasing these penalties.

Some background explanation is important here: on Fridays, Parliament debates legislation introduced by MPs who are not part of the government – i.e. backbench MPs. Parliament sits for about five hours. If any legislation has not had a vote taken in that time, it goes to the back of the queue for debate, effectively meaning it will never be debated. If a bill has not been debated, it could still progress – unless one or more MPs raises an objection. The reasons for objecting could be simple or complicated, relating to the content of the bill – but any objecting MP does not have to explain. They simply have to ‘object’, and the bill does not progress.

Back to last Friday. Two bills had already been debated, and Parliament had run out of time for a debate. So, it came to the animal cruelty bills:

  • “Animal Fighting (Sentencing) Bill”, went the announcement
  • “Object”, came the response

And again for the next bill:

  • “Animal Cruelty (Sentencing) Bill”
  • “Object”

That was all it took. The objection came from the backbenches, a lone voice who decided that the bill should progress no further. Here was legislation which has the support of MPs from all parties. It is supported by not only the League, but also the RSPCA, the Dog’s Trust, Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, and the Blue Cross. A Minister from Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has acknowledged that courts say sentences available for dog fighting aren’t strong enough. The cross-party Commons Environment Committee has said that sentences aren’t strong enough.

And now animal abusers will continue to get away with their crimes. In Northern Ireland, when the smirking perpetrators of horrific acts of animal cruelty walked out of court, it sparked the Northern Ireland Executive to strengthen sentences to five years.

Anna Turley, Labour MP for Redcar in North Yorkshire, was moved to begin a campaign on this following an appalling case of animal abuse in her constituency. How many people, like in those cases, are getting away with a slap on the wrist for terrible crimes?

On Friday morning, the League held a photo-op at Westminster with explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes and TOWIE star Chloe Meadows. But the real celebrity there that morning was Cupcake, a Staffordshire bull terrier rescued from dog fighting. Cupcake politely posed for pictures and took the affection of everyone there.

“Object”.

That was all it took for the bill to go no further, but it does not mark the end of the battle for tougher sentences. We don’t know who shouted it, but, unlike Laurence J Peters, we are not looking to attribute blame. Instead, we are beginning a battle – for Cupcake. Vulnerable animals like Cupcake cannot seek justice for themselves, so we do it for them. And we will not stop until we secure that justice.

Article taken from: https://www.league.org.uk/blog/animal-abusers-get-reprieve-as-anonymous-mp-objects-to-progress

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Scottish SPCA investigates two attempted poisonings

Blue pelletsA large number of blue pellets – possibly slug pellets – were found at a park in Rutherglen

An animal charity is investigating reports of two separate attempted poisonings in the west of Scotland.

A large amount of a substance which looked like slug pellets or rodenticide was found at the entrance to Overtoun Park in Rutherglen on 6 January.

The Scottish SPCA believes it was intentionally put there to harm an animal.

On the same day a white powder-like substance was found in a garden in Stevenston, Ayrshire.

The owner of the property believes it was put there to target dogs living there.

‘Incredibly difficult’

An undercover inspector with the charity’s special investigations unit said: “Dogs are usually very curious and will try to eat the poison.

“I recently dealt with a report of a Jack Russell who ingested a large amount of slug pellets and was extremely ill. There is a concern poison is being laid on purpose.

“The poisoning of domestic animals is a huge issue and we deal with a large number of complaints regarding poisonings and they are incredibly difficult to solve due to the nature of the crime.”

Anyone with information should contact the Scottish SPCA animal helpline on 03000 999 999.

Article taken from:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-38609922

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Dog fights prompt 5,000 calls to RSPCA in past decade

Nearly 5,000 calls about organised dog fighting in England and Wales have been made to the RSPCA since 2006, according to figures released to the BBC.

Benji

The charity said there had been a total of 137 convictions in the same period.

The maximum sentence for offenders is six months in prison and/or an unlimited fine, but campaigners want it to be raised to up to three years.

Brian Wheelhouse, who runs a dog rescue centre, said offenders only cared about financial gain and not about the dog.

Eduardo Goncalves, chief executive of the League Against Cruel Sports, said: “Evidence from the UK and abroad points to the activity being a ‘gateway’ crime to serious and organised offences, such as drug and gun crime.

“In the United States dog fighting is recognised as a Grade A felony by the FBI.”

France applies a sentence of up to two years, and Germany and the Czech Republic apply a sentence of up to three years.

Mike Butcher, chief inspector of the RSCPA’s special operations unit, said: “The idea of a six-month sentence is a joke. The idea that you only serve half of what you get is even more of a joke.

“It’s no deterrent at all.”

The RSPCA said the highest number of calls it had received had been in Greater London (924), followed by the West Midlands (469), West Yorkshire (305) and Greater Manchester (238).

Rural counties are also affected, including the areas of Kent, Essex and Lancashire.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said there were “strict laws in place” to deal with people who were not properly looking after animals.

A spokesman said: “Anyone who is cruel to an animal or does not provide for its welfare needs may be banned from owning animals, given an unlimited fine or sent to prison.”

Campaigners including the League Against Cruel Sports, the RSPCA and the Dogs Trust, along with the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) have all called for tougher sentencing as a deterrent.

Deputy Chief Constable Gareth Pritchard, the NPCC’s lead for dangerous dogs, said “this kind of animal abuse” caused “untold distress and harm to the animals involved”.


Brian Wheelhouse with Benji
Brian Wheelhouse said Benji had sustained injuries around his face and neck

Brian Wheelhouse, of Whitehall Dog Rescue, Wakefield

We had a call from the dog compound. There was concern because this dog had obviously been used for dog fighting, or as dog bait, with the injuries it had sustained.

A dog that attacks another dog will go for the jugular vein – for the neck – so Benji has got injuries all around his neck, [and] around his face.

Dog fighting is done by individuals that are fighting them for financial gain.

They’re not bothered what happens to the dog at the end of the day as long as it wins.

They’re not bothered about the injuries because they’re not going to be taking it to the vets and having it treated.

They’ll leave it to heal up by itself. If the dog dies then so be it.

To inflict injuries and do horrible things on these poor creatures just beggar’s belief.


Kittens as bait

Last year, two kittens were found in Bradford with their fur coloured using marker pens.

It is thought they were to have been used as bait in a dog fight, where people would have bet on which one would have died first.


Coloured-in kitten
Kittens found in Bradford last year are thought to have been used as dog fighting bait

Katie Lloyd, Bradford Cat Watch Rescue

They came in through a police officer who’d been to a property and seized them.

We’d never seen anything quite like it before – one was coloured blue with a marker pen, and one was green.

Thankfully nothing terrible had happened before they came to us.

We believe that they may have been coloured in to be used for dog fighting.

It was horrendous and we were thinking those cats were probably minutes away from being ripped to shreds by dogs, and they were tiny.

We’re aware of other incidents where cats have been used as bait for dog fighting.

Article taken from:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-38653726?intlink_from_url=http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/topics/14745d1f-885d-4b9f-b28a-24540e7beb15/animals&link_location=live-reporting-story

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Hotel staff ‘beat kitten to death with rolling pin’ after it got trapped in their kitchen and peed

A hotel has been accused of shoving a cat in a plastic bag before beating it to death with a rolling pin after it got trapped in their kitchen.

Bosses at the Royal Oak Hotel in Betwys-y-Coed, north Wales, admitted killing the kitten, but insisted in a now-deleted Facebook status that it was ‘humanely euthanised’.

However, they have refused to elaborate on how the animal met its end.

It has been claimed by many in the area that a young stray cat went into the kitchen and ate a bit of food. The cat reportedly became scared after getting trapped inside and peed in the kitchen.

After finding the cat and the urine, it is then alleged that the staff put the animal into a plastic bag, bludgeoned it to death with a rolling pin and smashed its body against the wall.

The RSPCARSPCA has confirmed it is investigating the hotel over the killing of the cat.

The RSPCA confirmed that it is investigating the claims (Picture: Getty Images)
The RSPCA confirmed that it is investigating the claims (Picture: Getty Images)

Glen Evans, head of the hotel, told local newspaper the Daily Post that he didn’t believe the staff had broken the law in killing the animal.

‘In hindsight of course I wish things were dealt with differently,’ he said. ‘But unless new information comes to light, the staff have not done anything unlawful.’

Claims that the cat met a horrific end were posted on the hotel’s Facebook page, which has since been deleted. However, their separate restaurant page is still live and has been flooded with one-star reviews.

The stray cat, not pictured, was killed by hotel staff (Picture: Getty Images)
The stray cat, not pictured, was killed by hotel staff (Picture: Getty Images)

One commenter, Jan King, wrote: ‘I am appalled to have read of the sub-human way that the poor kitten was bludgeoned to death by your staff. I hope the karma police are visiting you as I type, I also hope that you do get boycotted. I for one would never, ever want to stay around your sort. Disgusting.’

Another, Sooz McLean, added: ‘There is a reason that sweet, innocent, defenceless kitten was feral – the truth is it was either abandoned by someone or was born that way.

‘Just the same as any other normal living animal he/she needed food and unfortunately ended up at your business, looking for food and maybe a kind hand to help, care for and love him/her.

‘And what did you do – you battered that kitten to death inside a bag.’

The statement posted to the hotel's now-deleted Facebook page (Picture: Facebook)
The statement posted to the hotel’s now-deleted Facebook page (Picture: Facebook)

In a statement on the Royal Oak’s now-deleted Facebook page, the hotel said: ‘It was with regret that the feral cat was humanely euthanised as lawfully provided for when dealing with any animal legally classified as vermin.

‘Having reflected upon their actions, the staff involved understand why such an incident will upset people as the destruction of any animal is regrettable no matter what the circumstances.’

A spokesman for RSPCA Cymru told Metro.co.uk: ‘We can confirm that we are investigating reports about the death of a cat in the Betws-Y-Coed area. This is an on-going investigation, and we cannot comment further at this time.

‘We urge any member of the public with information to contact our 24-hour Cruelty Line on 0300 1234 999.’

Article taken from: http://metro.co.uk/2016/12/08/hotel-staff-beat-kitten-to-death-with-rolling-pin-after-it-got-trapped-in-their-kitchen-and-peed-6308994/?ito=facebook

Related story: Betws y Coed hotel staff SACKED after feral cat death (Daily Post)

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RSPCA should be stripped of prosecution powers, say MPs

The RSPCA should be stripped of its powers to routinely prosecute animal welfare cases, according to MPs.

greyhound

The Commons environment committee said there was a “conflict of interest” between the charity’s power to prosecute and its role in investigating cases, campaigning and fundraising.

But the RSPCA defended its work and said the move was not supported by the government or animal welfare groups.

The government says it will consider the committee’s recommendations.

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs committee called on ministers to change the law concerning the RSPCA’s powers.

Everyone in England and Wales has the right to bring a private prosecution against someone who they believe has committed an offence.

The Committee recommends the RSPCA should continue its work investigating animal welfare cases, but “withdraw from acting as a prosecutor of first resort” and let the Crown Prosecution Service or other statutory bodies carry out this role.

If there were no statutory alternatives – and where a private prosecution would further its charitable aims – the RSPCA could still be allowed to bring a case, said the committee.

But the cross-party committee was not unanimous; the call to transfer powers was opposed by three Labour MPs and one SDLP MP, and carried by the five Conservatives and one SNP MP.

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RSPCA prosecutions

  • Complaints of cruelty investigated by the RSPCA rose from 153,770 in 2013 to 159,831 in 2014 in England and Wales
  • In 2014, this led to 1,132 prosecutions
  • The charity’s prosecution success rate is 98.9%, according to 2014 RSPCA figures
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Opposing committee members stressed that anyone had a right to bring forward a private prosecution and “to single out the RSPCA as not being able to do this would be invidious, as it has the experience and skills and it furthers its charitable objectives”.

But Conservative MP and chairman Neil Parish said the committee was not convinced the charity was in any better position to prosecute than the CPS.

“It should step back from making prosecutions itself, continuing instead to work closely with the police and prosecution service to protect the welfare of animals,” he said.

Evidence heard included testimony from the Self-Help Group (SHG) for farmers, pet owners and others experiencing difficulties with the RSPCA which said some pet owners felt alienated by the charity’s “targeting of vulnerable, ill or elderly people” and the removal of their animals.

Maximum penalty

RSPCA chief executive Jeremy Cooper rejected the MPs’ criticism.

“We are extremely proud of our near 200 years of experience investigating and prosecuting animal cruelty and our 92% success rate – which is currently a higher percentage than the CPS,” he said.

“For us the key test will be if the recommendation improves animal welfare and we suspect the answer in this case would probably be no.”

But Tim Bonner, Chief Executive of the Countryside Alliance, who have been critical of the RSPCA, told the Today Programme: “The RSPCA is in a position that no other private organisation is.

“They retain this prosecution role which all other charities and private individuals gave up in the 80s when the CPS was formed.”

Speaking to BBC Breakfast the RSPCA’s head of public affairs, David Bowles, said most of the charity’s work was “about educating people to take care of their animals much better”.

Last year the RSPCA spent £4.9 million on legal fees and cases. Mr Bowles said that represented about 3% of the charity’s budget.

He added: “Investigations was the number one reason people gave us money for and prosecutions was the number two issue.”

In a joint statement, Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, Blue Cross, Cats Protection, the Dogs Trust and the PDSA said they feared that without the RSPCA, “many cases of unacceptable animal abuse would go unprosecuted”.

The committee also recommended the maximum penalty for animal welfare crimes should be increased from 51 weeks to five years.

And it called for a ban on the third party sale of dogs, so they would only be available from licensed, regulated breeders or approved rehoming organisations.

Neither the SSPCA (the Scottish equivalent of the RSPCA) nor the Ulster Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (USPCA) bring prosecutions, as the RSPCA does in England and Wales.

Article taken from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-37987213