Video: RSPCA investigate nearly 4,000 animal cruelty complaints in Sussex last year

The RSPCA investigated 3,811 complaints about animal cruelty in Sussex last year - with ten new animal welfare concerns being looked into by local inspectors every day.

The figures - from the RSPCA which has its headquarters near Horsham - make East Sussex the 7th and West Sussex the 8th cruellest counties in the South-East - and have been released as part of the charity’s annual Cruelty Statistics, which shows that, nationally, 141,760 complaints about animal welfare were investigated in 2017.

This horse was left for dead. Photo: RSPCA

This horse was left for dead. Photo: RSPCA

Nationally, East Sussex is 28th and West Sussex 29th in the 47 counties which has the most animal cruelty complaints.

The highest number of complaints investigated were in Greater London (11,259), followed by Greater Manchester (7,472) and then West Yorkshire (6,969). Across England and Wales, 388 new cases of animal cruelty were investigated every day.

Cases investigated by the RSPCA in Sussex last year included:

- A man who viciously beat a dog in front of shocked pub-goers and the attack was caught on CCTV.

- A young filly with horrific injuries left for dead in a lane. She was suffering from a terrible deep and infected flyblown wound and was blind in her eye due to a horrific leaking abscess.

The most calls received in Sussex related to dogs (1,115 in East, 935 in West), followed by cats (474 in East, 412 in West), and then equines (153 in East, 265 in West).

Patrick Hamby, the RSPCA’s chief inspector who covers Sussex, said: “Our officers are stretched to the limits as we try to help all the suffering, sick and dying animals in our county.

“Even though I have been with the RSPCA for a very long time now, I am still shocked and saddened by the awful incidents of cruelty which our officers are dealing with day in and day out.

“The job of an RSPCA officer can be tough and emotionally very draining, but being able to rescue an animal from horrific neglect or brutal cruelty and know they are going to be given a second chance thanks to the tireless work of our staff and volunteers is the reason we keep doing it. The work of the RSPCA family helps to transform the lives of thousands of animals in Sussex each year and we are so grateful to the public who report cruelty to us and continue to support our vital work.”

If you are concerned about an animal’s welfare, you can report this to the RSPCA’s cruelty line on 0300 1234 999.

Case Study 1:

A man was banned from owning or having contact with animals after he viciously beat a dog in front of shocked pub-goers and the attack was caught on CCTV (see video above).

In a 20-minute long video the man was seen repeatedly punching and kicking the poor dog, choking him and dragging him across the floor by his collar and at one point he even poured some of his pint of beer over the poor animal.

The incident was reported when the shocked staff at the pub were told there was a man in their beer garden abusing a dog. The owners asked the man to immediately leave the pub, but it was only later when viewing the CCTV footage they realised the extent of the abuse.

The shocked pub staff posted a short segment of the footage on the internet in a bid to identify the man and reported it to the police and RSPCA.

The dog did not belong to the man and he had only been looking after him. Once his owner was traced the dog was examined by the RSPCA and a vet and fortunately did not have any significant injuries as a result of the abuse. The dog remained in the care of his owner, who was horrified to discover what had happened to his dog.

RSPCA inspector Tony Woodley, who led the investigation, said: “Watching this video was heartbreaking and stomach-churning. This dog is completely subordinate and this prolonged period of abuse is totally unwarranted and frankly disturbing.

“The poor dog is just absolutely terrified and also confused, one minute the man is hitting him repeatedly in the head, the next minute he is cuddling the dog in a bid to pretend he is a caring animal owner. It is just horrific to see and a vet who watched this said that in their opinion there is no doubt this dog was caused pain and suffering during this sustained attack.

“It is perhaps lucky that the poor dog did not suffer any lasting physical injuries as a result of this attack, but he would clearly have been severely traumatised by the man’s actions.

The man pleaded guilty to one offence of the Animal Welfare Act and was given a 12-month Community Rehabilitation Order, a curfew order and banned from owning or having any contact with any animal until further notice. He was also ordered to pay £300 in costs and £85 in court surcharges by magistrates sitting at Hastings

Case Study 2:

A young filly with horrific injuries was left for dead in a lane in Cootham, near Pulborough, in August last year.

The youngster, who was only between five and seven months old, was dumped alone in a lane suffering from a terrible deep and infected flyblown wound and was blind in her eye due to a horrific leaking abscess.

The wound above the top of her hoof was down to the joint bone, was oozing pus and was severely infected, leaving the poor foal in a tremendous amount of pain and suffering.

Nothing further could be done to save the youngster and she was put to sleep following the advice of a vet who advised it was sadly the best course of action to prevent further suffering.

RSPCA inspector Tony Woodley attended the incident and said: “This was a shocking example of neglect and cruelty to the highest degree.

“The foal could not bear any weight on her infected leg and it’s likely the injury had been caused by being caught in a wire or some kind of illegal tether.”

“This poor foal had clearly been left to suffer for a prolonged period of time during her very short life and as a result was suffering greatly. The vet advised that the kindest thing to do was to have her put to sleep to prevent her suffering any longer.

“Whoever dumped her was clearly a callous and irresponsible individual who had no thought for her welfare and just left her to die alone and in pain. Even transporting an animal in this condition will have caused her a great deal of pain.”

“Sadly this is yet again another awful example of a growing band of irresponsible horse owners, who are adding to the horse crisis across the country.”

“A member of the public contacted us to say they heard a vehicle pull up in the area and then the sounds of a horse being unloaded. Luckily the kind-hearted caller caught her and then waited for myself, the police and the vet to arrive and we are grateful for all their help and effort.

“It is devastating to think there are so many irresponsible owners out there who are allowing their animals to suffer and then when they just can’t be bothered any more they dump them leaving over-stretched animal charities like the RSPCA having to deal with it.”

National statistics

This year, the RSPCA is focusing on the plight of horses as animal rescuers and welfare charities struggle to cope with an ongoing equine crisis.

The charity’s Cruelty Statistics reveal that nationally, nearly 1,000 horses were rescued by the charity from cruelty, suffering and neglect last year (2017), and a staggering 928 horses are still in the charity’s care.

In East Sussex in 2017, the RSPCA received 153 complaints about 121 horses and officers collected 15 horses in the county last year, compared to 4 in 2016.

In West Sussex in 2017, the RSPCA received 265 complaints about 178 horses and officers collected 12 horses in the county last year, compared to 11 in 2016.

The national horse crisis, which charities first highlighted in 2012, has since seen RSPCA officers routinely called out to abandoned horses every day up and down the country, with many of them extremely sick, dead or dying.

The RSPCA’s latest figures show the horrifying impact of the crisis:

The charity’s 24-hour emergency line received more than 80 calls a day about horses in 2017

The charity took in the highest number of horses into its care for four years (980)

The charity currently has 928 horses in its care

Last year the RSPCA secured 25% more convictions for equine offences than two years ago.

It costs the RSPCA more than £3m per year to care for the horses, excluding veterinary costs.

Many of the incidents dealt with by RSPCA nationally throughout 2017 concerned horses, and other equines. The animal welfare charity is today highlighting the significant consequences of the ongoing horse crisis.

Despite the efforts of the RSPCA and other equine welfare organisations, the crisis shows no sign of easing, with the charity struggling to find stables and funding to keep the large number of horses it has had to take in. As soon as one horse is rehomed, another is waiting to immediately fill the stable and, as a consequence, the majority of horses taken in by the RSPCA have to be cared for in private boarding stables at further cost to the charity.

Chief Inspector Hamby added: “Many of the calls we receive about equines are concerns about them being underweight, due to poor grazing or a lack of supplementary food, and also concerns about overgrown hooves.”

The RSPCA’s inspectorate national equine co-ordinator Christine McNeil said: “Up and down England and Wales, horses are being found sick, dying or sometimes dead. It is frequently the case that they have been abandoned and left to die. This is upsettingly very common and it’s a massive issue - a very sad one at that. “We are constantly receiving calls to our cruelty line - on average 80 per day about horses alone across England and Wales - as well as messages every day on social media from very concerned and upset people asking for our help.”

Facts and figures

Nationally, in 2017 the RSPCA:

Received 1,037,435 calls to its 24-hour cruelty line

Investigated 141,760 complaints of alleged animal cruelty

Issued 76,460 advice and improvement notices

Successfully prosecuted 696 people

Secured 602 disqualification orders following prosecution

Secured 1,492 convictions under the Animal Welfare Act

Had a prosecution success rate of 91.2%