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The BBC's Sue Nelson
"Last year the RSPCA responded to more than one and a half million calls for help"
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The BBC's Robert Hall
reports from the RSPCA's centre in Leicester
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Wednesday, 27 June, 2001, 12:29 GMT 13:29 UK
Britons have 'throwaway' attitude to pets
Tilly, a cat microwaved for five minutes at full power
Cats and dogs are the main victims
Cruelty to animals is deep-rooted in UK society with many young people having a "throwaway" attitude to pets, new research has found.

The study by academics at Manchester Metropolitan University comes at the same time as the RSPCA released figures showing a 16% rise in the numbers of animals that need rescuing last year.

A new study at Stirling University in Scotland by the RSPCA's Scottish counterpart - the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals - found a history of ill treatment of animals is frequently seen in killers and child abusers.

We believe that education is the best means of preventing animal cruelty

John Rose
But the Manchester study found that bad attitudes towards animals are widespread.

John Rose, of the RSPCA, said more than half of the young people surveyed had first-hand knowledge of harming animals.

"We found it quite shocking that in our view it was deeply-rooted in society.

Common victims

"A lot of things were quite shocking - they included shooting cats, strangling ducks, kicking cats, tying fireworks to cats tails, blowing up frogs and toads."

Cats and dogs were the most common victims of cruelty in the survey with boys more likely than girls to be the culprits.

Animal cruelty
Shooting cats
Strangling ducks
Kicking cats
Tying fireworks to cats tails
Blowing up frogs and toads
Mr Rose added: "The main reasons seemed to be retaliation and fun although the survey showed peer pressure was quite significant.

"Animal abuse was regarded as normal by some respondents.

"We believe that education is the best means of preventing animal cruelty."

Mr Rose said young people had to learn about animals needs and develop empathy.

According to the RSPCA's latest figures, it received 1.6 million call for help in 2000 and rescued 193, 280 animals.

The number of people prosecuted for cruelty jumped by 10% to 820 in 2000, with prosecution costs rising to 2.1m from 1.8m in 1999.

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See also:

25 May 01 | Scotland
Pet cruelty study 'warning'
09 May 00 | UK
Animal abusers investigated
09 May 00 | UK
The chain of cruelty
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