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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 April, 2003, 05:45 GMT 06:45 UK
Pet cruelty 'fuelled by ignorance'
An RSPCA inspector mistook this dog for a sheepskin rug

More than 17,000 animals were rescued from cruel owners across the North West last year, the RSPCA has revealed.

The charity's annual Cruelty Statistics Report also shows officers investigated 13,658 cruelty complaints.

Cases include a cat shot more than 20 times with an air rifle at point blank range and a dog that had been confined in a kitchen for years and forced to live in his own excrement.

The charity also secured convictions for 249 offences against animals in 2002.

Regional superintendent Bill Cottingham said ignorance and neglect remain the main reasons why most animals suffer in the region.

"We continue to be shocked by the suffering endured by far too many animals in this region," he said.

Cindy and Sheba
The room was covered in dog faeces and pools of urine and the door was wedged shut using a broom handle.

"The images from some of these cases will stay in our inspectors' minds for a long time."

Prosecutions in 2002 included:

  • A couple from Inskip, Lancashire, who allowed their 12 dogs to live in conditions described as "devastation and filth".
  • A farmer from Merseyside whose flock of more than 100 sheep were discovered dead or emaciated.

  • A 52-year-old woman from Westhoughton, Greater Manchester, whose dog rarely left a kitchen for years was sentenced to a 160-hour community punishment order and was told to contribute 250 towards costs.

    Superintendent Cottingham said cruelty will continue until changes in legislation give power to prevent, rather than react to, animal suffering.

    He said the RSPCA was involved with discussions to change legislation to ensure owners would have a statutory "duty of care" for their pets.

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