The RSPCA says its figures for 2014 show that cruelty complaints in the South West and Central England have gone up once again.
The charity investigated 28,800 complaints in the South West and central England in 2014 compared to 28,573 in 2013. More than 3,500 of these involved alleged deliberate and often violent cruelty being inflicted upon animals.
A pensioner who kept ponies and dogs in squalid conditions is set to lose his home after being handed a £140,000 bill.
Leslie Weatherill kept horses and ponies in an area of woodland and scrub strewn with rubbish and abandoned vehicles.
The land did not have enough grazing to support the 18 horses and ponies and they often roamed into neighbours homes searching for food. The dogs were kept on land in poor conditions where lot of rats were around.
When Devon County Council were called to the waste land they contacted the RSPCA who took the animals from him.
But the defiant pensioner refused to sign over his 29 dogs so they could be rehomed, and over the last 15 months, the court heard, it has cost the animal charity £90,000 to keep the terriers, collies and poodles in kennels.
Weatherill was prosecuted by Devon County Council Trading Standards department and the RSPCA and was convicted - following a trial - on 22 charges.
Exeter magistrates jailed the white haired pensioner from Ide for 12 weeks after he was sentenced for one offence of cruelty to a dog and 21 charges under the Animal Welfare Act.
But the magistrates suspended the jail term for 18 months
Chairwoman Linda Price said the total costs of the case were £138,322 but told the court she accepted the hard-up pensioner would not have enough money now, or in the future, to pay.
He was ordered to pay £50,000 towards the 'huge' costs surrounding the case, and was banned for the rest of his life from keeping animals.
The court heard the land was strewn with rubbish, derelict caravans, abandoned and rusting cars, barbed wire, corrugated iron, glass and scrap.
David Sapiecha said the defendant was given advice by the RSPCA and Trading Standards department on improving the area for his animals but said he had “an entrenched attitude and he knows best”.
Defence lawyer Susan Snow said Weatherill had been involved with horses for 55 years but ‘recently things had fallen apart’. She said the six acre land at Doddiscomsbleigh near Exeter where the dogs and ponies were kept had no sale value.
A swan has been rescued in North Devon after a metal pellet was found in its head.
The RSPCA caught the adult male swan on Wrafton pond in Braunton last month. Staff found he had an air rifle pellet lodged in his bill.
The swan was then taken to RSPCA West Hatch in Taunton, Somerset, to be treated and has been returned to the pond.
Anyone with information about the incident is being asked to contact the RSPCA inspector line on 0300 123 8018.
The RSPCA says hundreds of animals are being abandoned by their owners and many dumped like rubbish by the roadside. The charity is worried the situation will get even worse as the weather gets colder and we get closer to Christmas.
One animal sanctuary in Exeter is having to deal with the problem increasingly.
The RSPCA says it's getting more reports of animal cruelty and neglect than ever, but is doing its best to tackle what it's calling 'an ever growing crisis'. Last year the charity secured more convictions for animal cruelty in Somerset than anywhere else in the south of England.
Karen Griggs reports:
The RSPCA says animal cruelty in the region has risen to record levels.
New figures show that last year it successfully prosecuted 67 people in the South West who were responsible for 275 crimes against animals. More than 100 of those were in Somerset.
A man who had his dog seized after hurling it into the sea in Devon will be reunited with the pet after a court heard he was "an animal lover".
Paul Sanders was said to have shouted: "This is how you get your dog to swim" as he lobbed his terrified 10-year-old collie Shep from the pier at Babbacombe Bay, Torquay.
Shocked onlookers - including horrified children - screamed as unemployed Sanders, who was only wearing swimming trucks at the time, grabbed his dog and pushed it off a stone wall, plunging 15ft into the sea.