1. ITV Report

Animal cruelty prosecutions hit a five year high in Wales

This dog was rescued from an underground puppy farm Credit: RSPCA Cymru

RSPCA prosecutions in Wales have hit a five year high with social media and video evidence playing a central role in catching perpetrators.

Offenders are being caught on camera or even filming themselves committing acts of cruelty and sharing them online.

In 2018, there were 164 convictions for animal cruelty secured with a total of 80 defendants, three of whom were minors.

The owner of the puppy farm was banned from keeping dogs for life Credit: RSPCA Cymru

The RSPCA say that social media has played a big role in the number of people being caught.

Two men were handed a suspended jail term after a cat was tossed high into the air like a rugby ball. The incident was filmed and posted to social media.

The RSPCA called the cat throwing Credit: RSPCA Cymru

Social media has certainly changed the landscape of how a lot of incidents come to the attention of people across Wales, and the RSPCA.

Remarkably, people do film themselves committing horrible acts to animals - and put these on social media. This has led to information coming to us which led to prosecution in 2018.

Social media has broadened what people see, and what information is made available to them - and sadly, this can be linked to animal cruelty and neglect.

– Chris O'Brien, RSPCA Cymru

While social media has been useful in uncovering animal abuse, the charity say they are concerned younger viewers of such videos could be desensitised to the violence.

In response, the RSPCA have launched Generation Kind - an education programme targeting school children, children in care, young offenders or those at risk of offending and other disadvantaged young people.

The RSPCA investigated 10,856 complaints of cruelty in Wales last year. They say prosecution is a last resort.