RSPCA figures show dog cruelty on the rise in the South West

"Dogs are the most abused animal in this country" Credit: RSPCA

New figures from the RSPCA show that incidences of dog cruelty in the South West rose by 6% last year. 

In 2022, the RSPCA received 4029 reports of dog cruelty in the area, up from 3803 in 2021. The figures include reports of intentional harm, neglect and abandonment. 

Devon was the worst-performing county in the region, with 933 reports of dog cruelty made to the RSPCA last year. 

However, Bristol saw the biggest increase in reports of dog cruelty. Compared to 2021, incidences of dog cruelty rose by 20%, from 288 to 346 in 2022. 

Of the 4029 incidents of dog cruelty in the South West, 834 were reports of intentional harm. 

Reports which are categorised as intentional harm include attempted killing, poisoning, beating, improper killing, mutilation and suspicious circumstances. 

It is thought that the cost-of-living crisis is contributing to an increase in deliberate harm towards animals. 

Dermot Murphy, RSPCA inspector commissioner said it is “heartbreaking” that animal cruelty is currently happening on a “massive scale and rising.” 

“The cost-of-living crisis also means the cost of rescuing animals is at an all-time high and our vital services are stretched to the limit,” he added. 

According to the RSPCA, cases of cruelty rise in the summer months and they are braced for their busiest time of year. 

In August 2022, three dogs were found “dumped like rubbish” in a cardboard box in a car park in Wiltshire, according to RSPCA inspector Sharon Crisp. 

Babe, Tinkerbell and Ferdinand were abandoned in a cardboard box in a car park near Avesbury Stones. Credit: RSPCA

The dogs, two older female chihuahuas named Babe and Tinkerbell, and a younger male named Ferdinand, were found in poor condition needing urgent care and attention. 

Babe also had a severe open wound on her back right leg and had to have emergency surgery to remove the limb. 

John Atkinson, RSPCA chief inspector for Wiltshire, said: “For hundreds of years dogs have been known as man’s best friend - and if you share your home with one, you will know why, as they are so loyal and loving companions.

“But these awful statistics tell a different story. Dogs are the most abused animal in this country and we investigate more complaints about them than any other animal. 

“Everyone who cares about animals will be sickened to know how many reports we receive about dogs being kicked, beaten, burned or worse.”

The charity has released the figures as part of its Cancel Out Cruelty campaign, raising money for frontline rescue teams to help save animals from cruelty and abuse. 

John added: “We need the public’s help to Cancel Out Cruelty. Their donations, no matter how small, help keep our frontline officers out on the road rescuing animals and investigating these terrible reports.”