SHOCKING figures have today revealed a rising tide of animal cruelty in the region.
The statistics – published by the RSPCA – show there have been 139 cases of animal cruelty reported in Lancashire already this year.
And of those reported, 60 people have been convicted.
Last month pensioner Brian Hibbert, of Coniston Avenue, St Annes, pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering and administering poison to his neighbour’s cat Bingo.
He received a suspended prison sentence at Blackpool Magistrates Court.
The 71-year-old had left an ice-cream tub containing a lethal mix of anti-freeze and milk on his lawn. Hibbert claimed he had put the mixture out to deter a fox he had spotted in the garden and had no intention of hurting cats.
RSPCA chief executive Gavin Grant said: “The RSPCA faces a crisis that is stretching us to breaking point.
“We show zero tolerance to animal abusers. Anyone causing animals pain for profit or pleasure will be tracked down and prosecuted.
“We need the courts and councils, police and people who care to join us in standing up and getting justice for Britain’s abused animals.”
Between 2010 and 2011 the RSPCA saw a 13 per cent rise in the number of phone calls to the charity’s national control room.
Across England and Wales, the RSPCA’s latest figures reveal:
>> 23.5 per cent rise in the number of people convicted for cruelty & neglect (1,341 in 2011)
>> 22 per cent rise in the convictions relating to cruelty to dogs (2,105 in 2011)
>> 21 per cent increase in disqualifications on keeping animals imposed by courts (1,100 in 2011)
>> 27 per cent rise in prison sentences imposed by courts (74 in 2011)
>> 9.3 per cent increase in the numbers of people reported to the RSPCA prosecutions department (3,036 in 2011
In the North of England:
>> 529 people were convicted for cruelty and neglect compared to 471 in 2010 – a rise of 12.3 per cent
>> 728 convictions relating to cruelty to dogs compared to 800 in 2010 – a decrease of 9 per cent
>> 458 disqualifications for keeping animals imposed by courts compared to 415 in 2010 – a 10.3 per cent rise
>> 22 prison sentences imposed by courts compared to 19 in 2010 – a 15.7 per cent rise
>> 1,069 people reported to the RSPCA prosecutions department compared to 1,127 in 2010 – a decrease of 5.2 per cent
In June last year, The Gazette reported an investigation had been launched after two starving dogs had been found locked up in a derelict farm in Hambleton.
Jack – a four-year-old Spaniel and Vera – a two-year-old Lhasa Apso-type, were discovered emaciated with matted fur, suffering from a skin condition and eye infection.
They were found by a member of the public locked in a boarded up barn at Burrows Farm on Burrows Lane.
Despite an investigation the RSPCA never found out who had abandoned the dogs or why.
But the pets are now enjoying life with new owners on the Fylde coast.
RSPCA inspector Andrea Gillett said: “These dogs were both suffering when they were found.
“It must have taken weeks and weeks for them to get into that condition and it’s taken weeks and weeks to get them better.
“We appealed for information but sadly never found out who had abandoned them in this way.”
This month will see the launch of RSPCA week 2012 – an annual national fundraising and profile-raising week.
Mike Hogg, 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 can’t do this without the help and support of the public and we need it now more than ever. Please support RSPCA Week 2012.”
RSPCA week 2012 runs from April 30 to May 6.
To donate ring 0300 123 8000 or visit www.rspca.org.uk/donate.