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Over 2,900 complaints of animal cruelty in Nottinghamshire investigated by RSPCA last year

More than 2,900 complaints of animal cruelty were investigated by the RSPCA in Nottinghamshire last year - with eight new animal welfare concerns being looked into by local inspectors every day.

The figure has 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.

The most calls received related to dogs (1,702), followed by cats (737) and then equines (281).

Simon Parker, the RSPCA’s chief inspector for the county, said: “Animal cruelty horrifies much of today’s society and eight new complaints every day shows us that there are suffering animals in the county who need our help every day.

“We are very grateful to the people who contact us, who cannot turn a blind eye to animal cruelty.

“It is shocking that people can be capable of such deliberate brutality towards animals, but equally it drives us on to ensure that perpetrators of animal cruelty are put before the courts.

“Either way, our officers are under increased pressure having to respond to more calls and investigate more complaints, but it is thanks to their dedication, as well as RSPCA staff and volunteers that we are able to transform the lives of thousands of animals in Nottinghamshire each year.”

Chief Inspector Parker added: “We urge the public to keep reporting concerns to us on our cruelty helpline number - 0300 1234 999 - which operates 24 hours a day. Don’t be afraid to call - we will always do our best to respond as quickly as we can.”

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.

Nationally, nearly 1,000 horses were rescued by the charity from cruelty, suffering and neglect last year, with 928 still in the charity’s care.

In Nottinghamshire, the RSPCA received 281 complaints about 225 horses. Officers rescued 21 horses from across the county in 2017, up from 11 in 2016 and eight in 2015.

Chief Inspector Parker said: “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.”

Nottinghamshire cases

Sutton - RSPCA inspectors discovered 40 animals being kept in squalid conditions at a home in Sutton, including some kept in cages described as ‘prison cells’.

The woman responsible pleaded guilty to a number of animal welfare offences, which included failing to meet their needs and causing unnecessary suffering by not providing veterinary treatment. She was disqualified from keeping dogs for life and given a 12-week prison sentence suspended for a year, a three-year ban on all animals, and was ordered to pay £500 costs and a £115 victim surcharge.

RSPCA inspectors visited the property in April 2016 after concerns were raised about the dogs’ living conditions. There, they found dogs living in crates stacked on top of each other, with no food, water, blankets or toys inside them. In total, there were 30 adult dogs, six puppies, two cats and two parrots.

RSPCA inspector Laura Kirkham said: “These poor animals were living in their own little prison cells - it was absolutely horrific and not something you expect to see in this day and age. There was faeces and urine in the crates and, in some, there were two dogs in each. The smell was disgusting - it was so overpowering that it was burning my throat.

“We called the police and a vet out, who was not happy with the conditions of the animals and was very worried about one dog in particular who seemed very lethargic and depressed.”

The dogs were spread across the property inside the house, an outhouse and in a transit van and a run outside. Also inside the house in a crate was a nursing mum and six newborn pups.

“There were seven dogs living in this van, all in crates - six in the back and one in the front,” said Inspector Kirkham.

“What is even sadder is that they were spending an extremely long time in these crates. There was nothing in these crates to stimulate them either, and the smell was strong and the air stuffy. It was just absolutely horrific.

“The squalor in the outhouse was particularly appalling. It had crates stacked on top of one another, and it was dark. At first we couldn’t see one of the dogs in the crate at the bottom because it was so dark.

“The crates were filled with faeces and urine, which meant the dogs were also covered in faeces - it was so bad on one dog that he had dreadlocks of faecal clumps hanging off his coat.”

There were also two cats living in squalid conditions in a run in the garden, plus two parrots inside the house who were also kept in poor conditions.

Inspector Kirkham said: “It would have been impossible for anyone to cope with looking after so many animals properly.”

Five of the dogs were put to sleep on veterinary advice due to health issues and a young puppy removed from the property died from natural causes. The remaining animals are either in RSPCA care or have been rehomed.

Bulwell - the RSPCA investigated an horrific case after a neighbour witnessed a man killing his cat by hitting her over the head with a hammer three times.

The cat, called Lupo, could be heard screaming by neighbours during the early morning attack in July 2017.

The RSPCA was contacted following the incident and when inspector Laura Kirkham went to the owner’s house, they initially denied the allegations, before admitting they had used the hammer to make sure she was dead before burying her after he found her at 3.30am “twitching”.

Lupo’s body was exhumed from the owner’s garden and a post-mortem examination showed that she had suffered from blunt force trauma to her skull which led to her death. An examination of her body also showed that she had severely overgrown claws which had curled under into the pads of her feet.

Her owner pleaded guilty in court to two Animal Welfare Act offences of causing unnecessary suffering to the cat and for failing to meet her needs, and magistrates were told that he had owned Lupo for 14 years before killing her.

The court heard that the witness looked out of the window when they heard the cat screaming at 5.50am, and they saw the owner knelt down in the garden. He had a hammer in his hand and they could see Lupo on the ground - her legs were shaking so they knew she was still alive. They then saw the owner hit Lupo with a hammer three times, and when they shouted out of the window at the owner he replied: ‘She bit me’.

The court also heard that the owner said Lupo was dying and when asked by the magistrates why he used a hammer, he said: “It’s a horrible incident and I am very sorry about it. I don’t know what happened, I was under a lot of stress and I just snapped.”

Magistrates disqualified Lupo’s owner from keeping animals for life, gave him a 12-week prison sentence suspended for 12 months, and ordered him to pay costs of £787.50 and a victim surcharge of £118.

Inspector Kirkham said: “This was a very unpleasant job to deal with from the start. Due to conflicting comments from her owner, I will never know the real motives behind what happened or whether Lupo was conscious or not when this incident occurred - I sincerely hope it was the latter.

“Clearly subjecting Lupo to blows to the head with a hammer is completely inappropriate and if there were any concerns for her health then either an emergency vet or ourselves should have been contacted for advice or help.

“Furthermore, some of her claws had become so overgrown that they had penetrated her pads and had grown into almost a complete circle. This would clearly have been causing her a great deal of pain and discomfort, particularly as this was on both of her front paws.”