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On The Prowl with Nick Mays

THROWN IN a washing machine, kicked to death, chained up, throat cut, leg sawn off and hungfrom a balcony - just some of the terrible acts loving pets have been subjected to in

Latest cruelty statistics revealed by the RSPCA

Figures released recently by the RSPCA show a worrying rise in animal cruelty and include:

• 20% increase in convictions secured

• 13% increase in defendants convicted

• 6% increase in cases reported and investigated

The RSPCA’s new Welfare Figures have also shown another alarming rise in those animals not receiving basic care and include:

• 25,784 animals not having access to water – up 104%

• 34,337 animals not getting suitable veterinary treatment – up 79%

• 33,308 animals not having a clean environment – up 68%

In a year of horrific headlines detailing some of the worst cases of deliberate cruelty and shocking neglect ever faced by inspectors, the RSPCA is releasing some of its most graphic images, to help make the public aware of the shocking sights increasingly encountered by frontline staff.

Jackie Ballard, director general of the RSPCA, said: “2005 will go down as one of the most violent towards animals. Sadly, despite our best efforts, there are those who continue to ignore our messages and treat animals with brute force instead of compassion. The cases highlighted today show why the RSPCA will continue to prosecute those who feel they are doing nothing wrong when harming an animal.

“On a more positive note, it is heartening to see how many of these cruelty victims enjoy new and happy lives once they are rehomed by our dedicated staff up and down the country. The pleasure these animals give their new owners shows that the vast majority of people appreciate the important part a pet plays in the family.”

RSPCA National Case Studies
Cat killed in washing machine - Norwich
A mother who killed her cat by deliberately putting it in a washing machine on a boil wash cycle was jailed for six weeks and was banned for life from keeping household pets in October 2005.
Holly Thacker, 34, of Brightwell Road, Norwich, put Fluffy the cat in the washing machine then disposed of the body in her wheelie bin in November 2004. RSPCA Inspector Rob Melloy visited Thacker’s home and, before he entered, found a carrier bag in the wheelie bin with the dead cat inside.

The court heard the terrified cat broke all her claws as she struggled to free herself from the rotating machine drum. A vet estimated it would have taken between five and ten minutes for the animal to die.

Sentencing Thacker to six weeks in prison, chairman of the bench Douglas Bird said: “This particular offence of yours is more serious than a normal offence of animal cruelty. It caused intense suffering and fear. We think that there is no other appropriate way of dealing with you because the offence is so serious that only a prison sentence can be justified.”

Speaking after the case, RSPCA inspector Rob Melloy said: “In the seven years I have been working for the RSPCA as an inspector, I have never come across anything as heartless as this. It was a deliberate act of cruelty and she knew the cat would die in the washing machine.”

Rottweiler-cross chained, unable to walk, eat or drink - Malvern, Worcestershire

A woman who tied her pet dog’s legs and mouth with chains was banned from keeping animals for five years.

Worcestershire Magistrates’ Court heard how, in August 2004, RSPCA inspector Mark Lewis visited Serena Lloyd from Gloucester Road, Malvern.

A complaint had been received that a dog could be heard whimpering at the address. On looking through the window of the property, inspector Lewis saw a female Rottweiler-cross dog with chains round her mouth, front and fore legs. Jess was unable to walk, eat or drink.

With the assistance of the police, Jess was removed and taken to a veterinary surgeon for examination. Jess had a severe skin condition as well as sores, bald patches of hair and irritated skin caused by the chains that bound her.

Lloyd, then aged 20, pleaded guilty to the cruel ill treatment of Jess. Passing sentence in January 2005, the magistrate said: “What you did was no less than wicked.”

In addition to the ban, Miss Lloyd was ordered to complete 60 hours community service, pay £1,250 costs. Jess was confiscated.

Inspector Lewis said: “I was appalled when I discovered this dog lying chained and helpless. Jess had a skin condition, which is treatable by a veterinary surgeon. The defendant did nothing to alleviate Jess’s suffering and admitted the dog was chained to prevent her from scratching. This was no way to deal with the situation. People taking on a pet must have the means and compassion to take their animal to the vet if it is obvious that they are unwell or in pain.”
Jess made a full recovery in RSPCA care and found a loving new home in the West Midlands.

Lifetime ban for woman who kept 271 animals in her home - Silverdale, Lancashire
A woman who kept 246 dogs, 16 birds, five cats, two kittens, a rabbit and a chinchilla in her Lancashire home admitted nine charges of causing unnecessary suffering to a variety of dogs by omitting to provide necessary care and attention.

Preston Magistrates’ Court heard that RSPCA inspectors attempted three times to gain access to 55-year old Rosalind Gregson’s home between 27 August and early September 2003. On each visit they found the house looking neglected, and its windows filthy with dirt and excrement. When the RSPCA did get inside the house in Silverdale, Carnforth, they found room after room filled with scores of miniature breed dogs crammed into cages which were stacked one on top of the other.

In many of the rooms there was no natural light. The air was thick with the stench of waste and ammonia and the inspectors endured watering eyes and breathing difficulties as they worked that day and the next to bring out the animals in the property.

The bodily condition of the dogs ranged from slightly underweight to emaciated. A large number of dogs had inflamed and weeping eyes, most had matted coats which were contaminated with faeces. Some had evidence of skin lesions and areas of alopecia. Most of the animals had no ready access to fresh water and no food was seen in any of the cages containing animals. The caged animals were so closely confined as to prevent freedom of movement. No resting areas were provided in the cages, while the atmosphere was dusty and poorly ventilated.

In May 2005, District Judge Peter Ward imposed a lifetime ban on Gregson from keeping animals. At a later appeal, Gregson’s ban was upheld, but a three-year community rehabilitation order was imposed in place of a jail term.

RSPCA inspector Sarah Heyland said: “I still think about the scene we found in that property – it could all have so easily been avoided if only Mrs Gregson had sought help.”

Owner sees cat hunted by dogs for fun

A HORRIFIED animal lover was woken in the night to find her pet cat was being hunted down by a group of men with dogs.

In the latest case of animal cruelty in Doncaster, South Yorkshire, the woman was disturbed at midnight on a Sunday evening recently by a commotion in the garden and saw five men with three greyhounds attempting to trap her pet cat, Trex.

The men had circled a tree and one of them was shimmying up a tree to grab the terrified cat.
The woman, who asked not to be identified and lives in the Intake area, said: “I looked out of my window and to my horror witnessed five grown men doing their best to catch one of my cats so that the dogs could rip it apart for their own satisfaction.

“One of the men climbed the tree where the cat had managed to escape to, having already been bitten by one of the dogs in an attempt to catch it and drop it down to the waiting dogs.”
The three men holding the dogs had ringed the tree waiting for the cat to fall in front of the dogs. Luckily the woman and her partner quickly responded. She ran outside to confront the men while her partner rang the police.

When confronted the gang ran off, but not before shouting back, “It’s all right, we do this for a living.”

The cat’s owner added: “The police, although extremely sympathetic, weren’t able to apprehend the callous thugs and they remain out there trying to snare other much-loved pets with their cruel game.

“What is the world coming to? It’s not the dogs’ fault that their owners are like this. Who in their right mind would do something like that on purpose because it amused them?”

Luckily, although Trex scraped his paw pads raw and lost several of his claws in his desperate attempt to escape, he has recovered - following £100 worth of veterinary treatment.

But his owner added: “Unfortunately, it’s made him even more nervous than before and he was timid to start with. I hope other pets and their owners will take heed of this warning and stop these idiots before animals are killed.”

A South Yorkshire Police spokesperson said the incident was being investigated but said there was little hope of catching the offenders without a description of them.

Police urge anyone who witnesses similar acts to contact them. The RSPCA would also like to hear from witnesses and may be contacted on 0870 555 5999.

Teenager jailed for cruelty to cat

A TEENAGE girl who threw a ginger and white cat from the fifth floor of a city tower block in a sickening act of cruelty has been sentenced to a four-month detention and training order.
The 16-year-old was one of a group that tortured the animal for their own entertainment.
The cat had to be put down after suffering horrendous injuries.
In passing sentence at Birmingham youth court, chairwoman of the bench Mrs Pamela Holt told the teenager from Alum Rock: “This was an act of wanton cruelty committed against a defenceless cat. You were part of a group that hurled the young cat not once but four times from the fifth floor balcony.

“It is almost beyond belief that the terrified young cat was taken back to the balcony on three occasions and subjected to further cruelty.

“The lack of compassion and concern for domestic animals raises the gravest of concerns about your behaviour. This court must reflect its disdain for such behaviour, especially when it is committed for amusement and entertainment.”

The magistrates also banned the teenager, who had admitted a charge of animal cruelty, from keeping any animal for ten years.

A 14-year-old, from Druids Heath, who had previously pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting the cruelty, was sentenced to a 12-month referral order, banned from keeping any animal for five years and ordered to pay £100 costs.

Last month Christopher Lees, 18, of Wilsford Close, Druids Heath, was sentenced to four months in a young offenders institution and was given a five-year animal ban by City magistrates after also admitting animal cruelty.

The youth court magistrates adjourned sentence on a fourth defendant, a 17-year-old boy, from Druids Heath, who had pleaded guilty to the same charge.

Nick Sutton, prosecuting, said the owner of the ginger and white male cat, called Kharlo, had become concerned when the animal failed to return home in October last year.

He said she was told by a group of youths that something had happened to Kharlo and was shown the cat, which had been put in a hooded top and was crying out continually in pain.
Mr Sutton said he thought a car may have struck it and took it to a vet who discovered it had brain damage.

Mr Sutton said: “What was going on on that occasion was entertainment. They were enjoying themselves. The suffering that animal went through can barely be imagined. It is simply evil.”
Alan Davenport, representing the 16-year-old, said she had only thrown Kharlo off the balcony once.

He said it was an appalling act but the girl had underlying issues that needed to be addressed, probably by the medical profession.