James Yeates. the RSPCA's Chief Veterinary Officer. said the economic crisis has caused "additional problems for animals". He said:
There remains a body, even in this country where people really love animals, who think it's acceptable to beat, to maim, to fight, to neglect, to just not give the love and attention, or enjoy being cruel to these animals.
The RSPCA has described the "shocking catalogue" of animal cruelty and neglect last year, including a dog being slashed with a knife by his owner and two tiny puppies buried alive.
New figures released by the charity today show an increase in cruelty to animals in the last year:
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
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