SHOCKING figures have been released showing a rise in animal cruelty.
The RSPCA Prosecutions Annual Report reveals a 15.7 per cent increase in the number of people convicted of offences against animals last year in England and Wales.
The number of animals rescued by the charity increased by 9.7 per cent, up from 119,126 in 2011 to 130,695 last year, not including 64,000 farmed chickens from a flooded barn.
There was a 264.9 per cent rise in the number of convictions relating to small animals such as rabbits and hamsters, a 122.7 per cent increase in convictions relating to farm animals and a 117.4 per cent rise in convictions relating to equine animals.
In Northumberland there were 15 animal cruelty convictions last year, compared to 11 in 2011.
They included a 62-year-old Linton woman, who was banned from keeping animals for life, sentenced to eight weeks in custody suspended for 12 months, given a two-month curfew and ordered to pay £250.
The case related to three matted shih-tzus, called Holly (now renamed Molly), Angus and Lacy, which had difficulty seeing and walking because their coats were so overgrown and matted with faeces. They were clipped under sedation, recovered and were re-homed, but a fourth dog, a German Shepherd, had to be put to sleep.
RSPCA Inspector Trevor Walker said: “I have worked for the RSPCA for over 15 years and during that time I have witnessed some pretty horrific things, but I can honestly say that I’ve never seen such a deeply depressing sight as these three shih-tzu dogs.”
To support the RSPCA call 0300 1238181 or visit www.rspca.org.uk/act