Hundreds of animal cruelty calls made to RSPCA in Derbyshire over three years

Hundreds of calls warning of deliberate animal cruelty in Derbyshire have been made to RSPCA helplines over the last three years, new figures show.

The RSPCA said it is a "sad reality" that the charity deals with animal cruelty on a daily basis.

The figures come in the wake of the high-profile case of West Ham United footballer Kurt Zouma, who was prosecuted after a video of him kicking his cat went viral on social media.

In June, Zouma was sentenced to 180 hours of community service and was banned from owning a cat for five years after pleading guilty to two counts of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal.

RSPCA figures show there were 244 calls to its helpline for reporting intentional harm to an animal in Derbyshire last year – up from 185 in 2020.

RSPCA figures show there were 244 calls to its helpline for reporting intentional harm to an animal in Derbyshire last year – up from 185 in 2020.

There were 332 calls over deliberate cruelty in 2019, meaning there have been a total of 761 in the last three years alone.

Intentional harm incidents involve attempted or improper killings, beatings, poisonings, mutilations and injuries or deaths in suspicious circumstances.

Across England, 35,379 calls were made reporting intentional harm over the last three years.

Dermot Murphy, RSPCA chief inspectorate officer, said: "It is a sad reality that we deal with animal cruelty every day here at the RSPCA.

"We are a nation of animal lovers but yet we received over 11,000 complaints of intentional harm through our helpline last year reporting animals from cats, dogs, hedgehogs and everything in between who have sadly been victims of deliberate cruelty.

"We need your help to keep our frontline officers out on the road saving animals and to help us raise awareness that this cruelty is never acceptable."

Mr Murphy also highlighted the rise in intentional harm calls during the summer months – nationally, more calls were taken between July and September than any other three-month period last year.

August was the busiest month for the RSPCA nationally, with 1,041 calls taken – an increase of 10% on the same month the year before.

In 2021, September had the highest number of reports in Derbyshire, while calls between July and September rose from 58 to 75 year-on-year.

The RSPCA is concerned that the rise in pet ownership during the coronavirus pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis could lead to a rise in animal cruelty incidents in the future.

The charity received more than 1 million calls reporting all types of cruelty in 2021, with more than 1,000 killings and almost 8,000 beatings reported.

Meanwhile, more than 38,000 animal abandonments were recorded last year.

"These figures are shocking and deeply upsetting and show why we need your help to save those animals who need us the most now more than ever," Mr Murphy said.

THe animal welfare charity relies on voluntary fundraising and donations to carry out its work carrying for injured and neglected animals, as well as prosecuting owners who do not look after their pets.

Unlike the police or local authorities, the RSPCA has no special powers to investigate or prosecute. They take private prosecutions to court. Any individual or entity within the UK has the right to bring a private prosecution.