WEST Yorkshire has been shamed as a animal cruelty hotspot - with more people convicted of animal welfare offences than anywhere else, for the second year running.
The RSPCA investigated 7,694 complaints of animal cruelty in 2015 - 45 per cent of the 17,038 across Yorkshire.
Only Greater London saw more complaints than West Yorkshire.
Despite prosecution levels across the country being down on 2014, the charity said the “level of depravity” seen in some cases last year were among the “most extreme” it had ever known.
West Yorkshire had the highest number of convictions in the country, 81 last year, compared to 93 in 2014, and this year the Yorkshire Evening Post has already reported on cases of extreme cruelty in our courts.
Earlier this month Armley bet Gary Samuel was given a suspended jail sentence and banned from keeping animals for life after police found dogs locked in cages in a filthy “pitch-black dungeon” at his practice.
RSPCA inspector Nikki Cheetham said: “I’ve seen a lot of shocking things working for the RSPCA but I would certainly never have expected to deal with something like this.”
Horrific levels of cruelty
“Horrific” levels of animal cruelty, among the worst ever seen by the RSPCA, were investigated last year.
West Yorkshire came second only to Greater London as the animal cruelty hotspot of the country in 2015 - and topped the league of shame when it came to successfully prosecuting offenders.
Overall, across England and Wales, there were 143,004 complaints of animal cruelty investigated in 2015, down from 159,831 in 2014, and cases which had to be resolved by way of prosecution also decreased. In total, 796 people were convicted of animal welfare offences in 2015, compared to 1,029 in 2014.
But despite this dip, the charity said the “level of depravity” seen in some cases last year were among the “most extreme” it had ever known.
It gave the example of a Bradford dog breeder, Margaret Mazan and her husband Gary who were jailed after keeping 14 Irish red setters in the “worst conditions ever seen” by RSPCA inspector Emma Ellis.
Twelve of the dogs were discovered in squalid puppy cages in a garden shed, kept three to a cage, with the front of the shed barricaded shut. They had no room to move, no food, water or bedding.
Inspector Ellis said: “The smell in that shed is one that I will never forget and when I look at the photos now the smell comes straight back to me. When the shed was opened, the smell literally knocked you over, you had to back off.”
More than half of the complaints investigated by the RSPCA related to dogs, and almost a quarter were cats - the second most abused pet.
Dermot Murphy, Assistant Director for the RSPCA Inspectorate, said: “People think of dogs as man’s best friend but these statistics tell a different story.
“They are by far the most abused animal in this country and we investigate more complaints related to them than any other species.”