Animal cruelty complaints 'rising' in Oxfordshire as RSPCA reveals horror stories

Hooch the dog was found without food and water in a squalid outhouse. Photo: RSPCA
Hooch the dog was found without food and water in a squalid outhouse. Photo: RSPCA

Animal cruelty complaints are on the rise in Oxfordshire, according to the RSPCA which has revealed shocking stories from across Banburyshire.

The animal welfare charity investigated 1,326 complaints about animal cruelty in Oxfordshire last year - with almost four new animal welfare concerns being looked into by inspectors every day.

Abandoned and emaciated lurcher Honey was found in Northamptonshire and was so starving she ate her own faeces. Photo: RSPCA

Abandoned and emaciated lurcher Honey was found in Northamptonshire and was so starving she ate her own faeces. Photo: RSPCA

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 stats show that there has been a rise in Oxfordshire in the number of complaints about animal cruelty received by the charity, up from 1,299 in 2016.

In Warwickshire, there were 1,279 animal cruelty complaints last year and 1,820 in Northamptonshire.

Cases brought to justice by the RSPCA in the county last year included a man and a woman who were disqualified from keeping dogs for ten years after their pooch was left to starve in a squalid outhouse.

The pair admitted causing unnecessary suffering to a dog, known as Hooch, and were also given prison sentences, with the man given 12 weeks in custody and the woman eight weeks, with her sentence suspended for a year.

Hooch was found without food and water in a squalid outhouse at the couple’s home after the police contacted the animal welfare charity with concerns for the dog’s wellbeing.

RSPCA inspector Lauren Bailey, who investigated, said: “When I first saw Hooch he was at the police station and I was moved by how loving he was.

"He was so skinny, dirty, and neglected but had so much time for everyone he met.

"It was heartbreaking to see a dog that had not been shown any love himself still offer love unconditionally to others.

“He had sadly been left without food and water in a dirty outhouse. He was very underweight with all his ribs showing.

“The neglect he experienced could have been easily avoided but he was simply left to suffer without the care he needed and deserved.”

Other cruelty investigated in Banburyshire included a dead terrier who was dumped in a bag in Banbury, a dog in Northamptonshire who starved to death after he was left locked in a bathroom for more than a month, and an underweight and poorly foal was left straying on a dangerous Warwickshire road.

RSPCA chief inspector for Oxford Rob Hartley said: “It’s shocking to see the cruelty suffered by animals at the hands of heartless people with no care for the welfare of animals.

“Last year saw a rise in the number of calls we’ve received from members of the public in Oxfordshire, and while it is saddening to think there are so many animals in need of our help we are very grateful to everyone who takes the time to raise concerns.

"A call from a member of the public not only helps to give a voice to animals in desperate need but it helps our officers investigate and help bring animal abusers to justice.”

In Warwickshire, the most calls received related to dogs (717), followed by cats (327) and then equines (153) - similarly in Northamptonshire, dogs were the most animal cruelty complaints (1,006), then by cats (411) and equines (289).

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, and a staggering 928 horses are still in its care.

In 2017, the RSPCA received 219 complaints about 718 horses in Oxfordshire, 289 complaints about 173 horses in Northamptonshire, and 153 complaints about 138 horses in Warwickshire.

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.”

To help the RSPCA continue rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming animals in desperate need of care, visit: www.rspca.org.uk/suffering.