Reports of animal cruelty in Kent have increased with the county seeing more than 6,000 complaints last year – the second highest number in the south east. New figures from the RSPCA show there were 6,075 complaints in the county in 2014, up from 5,889 the previous year. Only London reported more.
Nearly 800 of these cases involved deliberate cruelty, while the remainder of complaints concerned neglect or failure to provide proper care. In their daily work, inspectors say they can come across a whole spectrum of cruelty cases, from owners simply not knowing how to treat their pets properly, to unrestrained brutality. RSPCA inspector, Edward Halligan, said:
“Basic neglect is our bread and butter stuff. You get some people who are doing it but the brand they are using simply doesn’t work. But then we had a man who was caught on his own CCTV beating a dog to bits – that came to court recently. The magistrate said he wouldn’t trust him to look after a goldfish. The footage was just horrific. When you knock on the door you go in without any preconceptions. It could be a skinny dog, or a cat with fleas, or it could be an animal that’s just been stabbed.”
Despite a slightly lower number of deliberate cruelty complaints in 2014 – 783 compared to 788 in 2013 – Kent inspectors say the numbers are on the increase long-term. Andrew Kirby RSPCA Inspector:
“Most of the calls we get are regarding neglect but there is also a rise in deliberate cruelty, where there’s an intent to hurt an animal. We have seen an increase in cases. It’s a surprise to me. There is really no excuse.”
Mr Halligan said many people used a lack of time or money as a excuse for neglect, often failing to seek medical treatment for sick pets. “If you haven’t got enough money, you probably shouldn’t have a pet”, he said.
One of the most distressing cases involved a cat in Maidstone which was found with huge infected tumour on her face which had eaten into her jaw bone. Her owner was fined.
In another case, dozens of reptiles were removed from a Maidstone pet shop after they were found in a poor state of health, with many needing veterinary treatment. Paul Stilgoe, RSPCA superintendent for the south east, said:
“Once again we have been shocked by just how vicious people can be to animals – and it seems a large number of these cases are happening here – in this region. London is at the top of the list of counties in terms of number of complaints and Kent is not far behind. This is not a list anyone can be proud of leading. It is utterly unacceptable that in 2014 people are still being deliberately cruel in what can be disturbingly inventive ways.”