ANIMAL cruelty in the region is on the rise, according to shocking figures out today.
Latest statistics released by the RSPCA revealed that the number of people convicted for cruelty to and neglect of animals rose by just over 12 per cent in the North.
A new report out today also shows a rise in bans on keeping animals in 2011, while courts also handed down more prison sentences.
Nationally, more than 70 people were jailed in 2011, and calls to the RSPCA hit 1,314,795 last year.
The shock statistics come ahead of RSPCA Week 2012, the charity’s major fund-raising push.
In the North, 529 people were convicted for cruelty and neglect compared with 471 in 2010 – a rise of 12.3 per cent.
Convictions for cruelty to dogs fell to 728, from 800 in 2010 – a decrease of nine per cent. There were 458 disqualifications for keeping animals imposed by courts, up by 10.3 per cent from 415 in 2010.
Courts imposed 22 prison sentences in 2011, compared with 19 in 2010, which represented an increase of 15.7 per cent.
Across the region, there was a 5.2 per cent drop in people reported to the RSPCA prosecutions department – 1,069 compared with 1,127 in 2010.
In Tyne and Wear 89 cases of animal cruelty were reported last year, with 41 convictions.
Mike Hogg, RSPCA North regional manager, said: “The RSPCA strives to keep animals with their owners wherever possible and offers advice on improving their welfare.
“Overwhelmingly this advice is followed, but where it isn’t, or where someone has already harmed an animal, there has to be a way of ensuring that animals are not left to suffer, and the RSPCA is the charity people turn to – and we are struggling to continue providing this service.
“We work closely with governmental and other charitable organisations, but we are the main organisation which prosecutes those who abuse animals and which can prevent cruelty to animals.
“We can’t do this without the help and support of the public – and we need it now more than ever.”
RSPCA chief executive Gavin Grant said the charity is facing a “crisis” that is stretching it “to breaking point”, with annual costs for its 365-days-a-year service at more than £124m.
It costs £15 a day to feed, house and provide medical attention for just one of the 7,762 dogs the RSPCA cared for in 2011.
To make a donation, ring 0300 123 8000 or visit www.rspca.org.uk/donate.