Page last updated at 13:39 GMT, Wednesday, 30 July 2008 14:39 UK

RSPCA secures cruelty convictions

Daisy the rescued pony
Daisy was starved and neglected by her previous owners

A cat kicked to death for having muddy paws was just one of the convictions for animal cruelty the RSPCA secured in Devon and Cornwall in 2007.

Another case involved a shepherd who killed one of his sheep with a metal crook, the charity said.

There were 11 cases which secured cruelty convictions in Cornwall, and seven in Devon, the joint lowest figure in the country with Oxfordshire.

Nationally, there was a significant rise in the number of cruelty cases.

One of the cases with a happy ending involved Daisy, a minature Shetland pony who was rescued from a couple in Taunton.

She had been starved and neglected. A vet who examined her said she was just 72 hours from death.

She now lives in north Devon with her new owner, Jo Barr, who works for the RSPCA.

She said: "I see pictures of cruelty on a daily basis in my job, but to actually see it in the flesh is quite different.

"It was her whole demeanour really, she looked a bit like she'd given up."

Daisy the pony before rescue
A vet said Daisy was 72 hours from death

RSPCA inspector Marie Griffiths found Daisy in her emaciated state. "When we end up in court I often find myself welling up at what actually happened," she said.

The charity said the new Animal Welfare Act, which came into force in 2007, had made it easier to intervene in suspected cases of animal cruelty and also made it cheaper to bring offenders to court.

Tim Wass, chief officer of the RSPCA Inspectorate, said: "The main reason we take people to court is to prevent suffering and save lives.

"It's very reassuring to see the courts taking this seriously by issuing more and more banning orders, which prevent those convicted of cruelty from keeping animals in future."


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