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Shocking catalogue of deliberate cruelty and neglect of animals in the England and Wales

United Kingdom
According to the RSPCA's annual prosecution report, convictions increased from 3,114 in 2011 to 4,168 last year and the number of people found guilty of offences rose to 1,552 from 1,341 a year earlier.

Since an individual can receive more than one conviction, the RSPCA reports there was also a 15.7% increase in the number of defendants convicted.

RSPCA chief executive Gavin Grant called on judges to take these offences "far more seriously".

He said his staff, volunteers and branches are "struggling to keep up" in their fight against "a growing animal cruelty crisis".

"For us, prosecution is always the last resort," he said. "Our inspectors investigated 150,833 suspected cruelty cases and issued 78,090 advice notices last year.

"These are extremely effective in improving the care of animals," he added.

"However if there is evidence of a crime and serious animal abuse then we will take legal action to protect the animals and prevent further abuse."

Successful prosecutions relating to cruelty to small mammals such as rabbits and hamsters rose from 97 in 2011 to 354 in 2012, while convictions linked to the treatment of farm animals rose from 22 to 49 in the same period.

The number of convictions relating to the treatment of equine animals, such as horses, ponies and donkeys, rose from 230 in 2011 to 500 last year.

Animals rescued or collected by the RSPCA increased by 9.7% from 119,126 to 130,695.

The animal welfare group also helped rescue 64,000 farmed chickens from a flooded barn.

A dog being slashed with a knife by his owner and two tiny puppies that had been buried alive are among the "shocking catalogue of deliberate cruelty and neglect" which were dealt with by the RSPCA.

They also found more than 30 rabbits and guinea pigs living amongst dead animals in slurry-filled hutches and an emaciated pony pinned to the ground by his tether.