Greater Manchester had the third highest number of animal cruelty reports in England and Wales in 2016, despite the number of successful convictions continuing to fall.
According to new figures released by the RSPCA, the highest number of complaints investigated was in Greater London with 11,812, West Yorkshire came second with 7,920 and Greater Manchester closely followed in third with 7,708.
Reports of animal cruelty have increased by nearly 5% in a year, with the RSPCA receiving more than 400 complaints a day, the surge being attributed to disturbing images being shared on social media and the public being more willing to raise concerns for an animal’s safety.
Dermot Murphy, RSPCA inspectorate assistant director, said: “I believe that the figures from last year show that we’re not becoming crueller, but that people are simply less willing to stand by and do nothing if they think an animal is suffering.
“People are increasingly likely to share images or footage on their social media accounts of animals they believe are not being cared for properly, while many will see material their friends have shared and then contact us about them.”
The number of successful prosecutions declined last year by 6.53%, with 744 people being convicted across England and Wales.
In Greater Manchester only 36 people were prosecuted last year, less than 0.5% of all the complaints received.
Speaking with Manchester residents, conviction levels were a large concern, with people feeling the levels were at an unacceptable low.
Georgina Cullen, who owns rescue dog Truman, told MM: “I’ve seen a lot of mistreating and malnutrition as I do some work rehoming dogs and when you go to foster you see dogs that have just been dumped there in a horrific state.
“Truman was covered in scars, he wasn’t fighting with anybody, but you could tell he wasn’t happy. He escaped from the police pound twice and that’s how I got hold of him.
“I think it’s horrific that the convictions aren’t as high as they should be, and the sentencing should be a lot more as well.”
Elisa Allen, director of PETA UK, agreed that the rise of social media has helped expose animal abuse, raise awareness of it, and make it easier to find abusers and hold them accountable.
She added: “People who hurt and kill animals are cowards who take their issues out on the most defenceless victims available.
“Their acts of abuse are terrifying, not only for the animal victims but also for the community, because they often foreshadow future violence against humans.”
A total of 149,604 complaints of animal abuse were investigated by the RSPCA last year.
Amongst these was the case of Baby the bulldog who was filmed on a mobile phone repeatedly thrown down a flight of stairs, stamped on and head-butted in North Yorkshire.
Two men from Redcar were disqualified from keeping animals for life and given suspended prison sentences after being prosecuted by the RSPCA.
The case, which centred on the footage, shocked the community when the defendants appeared in court last March.
Sadly, Baby was put to sleep a few months after the incident, long before the RSPCA knew anything about her and what she went through.
If you would like to help the RSPCA, you can give £3 by texting LOVE to 87023. Text costs £3 plus one standard network rate message.
Image courtesy of Animaux en detresse via Facebook, with thanks.