RSPCA chief executive Gavin Grant said prosecution for animal cruelty is "always a last resort".
Figures released by the charity today showed the levels of neglect, which has risen by a third in England and Wales. 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.
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.
We also want to see judges taking these offences far more seriously.
More top news
Figures show seal shooting is on the decline but 51 licences were granted this year permitting the cull of more than 850 marine mammals.
Three goals were enough to send the team through to its first major football tournament finals since the World Cup in 1986.
Particles in Pluto's haze create a stunning blue tinge around the dwarf planet in an image captured by the New Horizons space mission.