Animal charities braced for summer spike in cruelty cases

This female German Shepherd dog was found severely underweight in the backyard of a Lake District property. Credit: RSPCA

The RSPCA in Cumbria says it is concerned that the next few months will see a sharp rise in the number of animals abused or abandoned.

Figures show that there is usually a spike in animal cruelty cases reported in the summer.

Pet ownership has risen since the Covid pandemic, and coupled with the cost of living crisis the charity says it is braced for a 'summer of suffering' in Cumbria.

In Cumbria, there were 98 reports of intentional harm against animals made to the RSPCA last year. 

Across the UK, the RSPCA receives around 90,000 calls to its cruelty line every month and investigates 6,000 reports of deliberate animal cruelty, including animal fighting and hunting.

But in the summer calls rise to 134,000 a month, three every minute. Reports of cruelty soar to 7,600 each month, 245 every day. 

Overall, the number of reports made to the charity’s cruelty line about animals being inflicted with intentional harm, including beatings, mutilations such as ear cropping, poisonings and even killings, has increased by 7.9% from summer 2020 to summer 2021 with more than 2,300 reports in June and July alone.

One of the animals the charity was able to save as a result of their investigations was found in the Lake District - a German Shepherd who was found severely underweight.

The female dog was found in the backyard of a property in the Lakes by the RSPCA. Her ribs, spine and pelvic bones were clearly visible.

Acting on reports of concerns for a dog at the address, RSPCA Inspector Martyn Fletcher visited the house in January and was shown into the backyard where the dog was being kept.

In his witness statement, Inspector Fletcher said: “I could immediately see that the dog was in a very poor bodily condition, with its spine and hip bones prominent and its ribs visible.

“The dogs’ head also had a sunken appearance. It was subdued and uninterested in my presence.”

The inspector took the dog to a vets where an examination showed she weighed only 15kg when her expected weight would have been 27kgs.

The owner signed over the dog into the care of the RSPCA Cumbria West Branch and the pet has since been returned to health and has found her forever home.

The owner signed over the dog into the care of the RSPCA Cumbria West Branch and has recovered. Credit: RSPCA

Dermot Murphy, Chief Inspectorate Officer at the RSPCA, said: “We are a nation of animal lovers and no one wants to think of an animal being cruelly treated but sadly the reality is that every day animals are victims of deliberate cruelty and thankfully the RSPCA is there to help them.

“There are many factors which could explain why we see a rise in cruelty during the summer months.

"The longer sunny days could mean people are out and about more and likely to see and report abuse.

"Hot summer days can also lead to more people drinking alcohol in the sun which in turn can be a factor causing violence.

"Perhaps there is boredom or pressures at home with children being off school which can make existing difficulties magnified. 

“And this year, we are also concerned that the recent rise in pet ownership coupled with the cost of living crisis could see people really struggling to care for their pets which may lead them to lash out or could see more animals than ever being abandoned or given up.”

The RSPCA received 1,081,018 calls to its Cruelty Line in 2021 and these included reports of:

  • 1,094 killings or nearly three animals killed a day

  • 632 mutilations or 12 animals mutilated every week

  • 7,857 beatings which equates to one animal beaten every hour

  • 38,087 abandonments which equates to more than 100 animals every day

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