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Last Updated: Wednesday July 30 2008 07:28 GMT

Big rise in animal cruelty

Tony was badly neglected. Now he has recovered.
Tony was badly neglected. Now he has recovered.

There's been a huge increase in the number of people who've been found guilty of being cruel to their pets, say the RSPCA.

Last year 1,149 people were convicted for crimes against animals, up from 927 in 2006.

The RSPCA says the problem is down to people treating pets as novelties and abandoning them when they get bored.

In particular, there was a really big hike in the number of cruelty cases involving dogs.

The charity was able to rescue and rehome some abused animals.

Saffron with RSPCA inspector
Saffron now with an RSPCA inspector
These include Saffron, a Staffordshire bull terrier, whose London owners cut off her ears as they thought it would make her look tougher.

The figures are also higher because of new laws making it easier to take cruelty cases to court.

Tim Wass, chief officer, said the animals who suffered cruelty were often the "helpless victims of our affluent, throwaway society".