Figures show extent of animal neglect

THE number of animals not being cared for properly in East Anglia has soared by almost a third in a year, the RSPCA has found.In the first 10 months of this year, the charity's inspectors discovered more than 26,700 pets in the region which were being neglected.

THE number of animals not being cared for properly in East Anglia has soared by almost a third in a year, the RSPCA has found.

In the first 10 months of this year, the charity's inspectors discovered more than 26,700 pets in the region which were being neglected.

The RSPCA described the figures as “startling” and welcomed a new animal welfare offence that will mean owners and keepers will - for the first time - have a legal responsibility to care for their pets.

It came as a Suffolk woman was yesterday jailed for 12 weeks after breaching an order which banned her from keeping animals for life.


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The figures show that in the first ten months of 2006, RSPCA inspectors discovered more than 11,500 animals kept in a dirty or unsuitable environment - a 31% increase on the same period last year.

The number of animals not receiving suitable veterinary treatment also rose by nearly a half, with 8,582 found, while 5,399 animals did not have access to water, a 24% jump.

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A total of 1,245 animals were unable to express normal behaviour, 13% fewer than last year.

Tim Wass, RSPCA East Region Superintendent, said the numbers represented the “systematic and endemic failure to give animals the care and attention they need”.

He added that out of the thousands of complaints investigated by the RSPCA only 400 people were prosecuted.

But he said: “That 400 is just the tip of the iceberg. Those are the worst cases of neglect and absolutely gives a lie to a much bigger number of animals that do not get thrown off balconies, put in microwaves, emaciated and starved to death. They just do not have access to basic provisions.”

He welcomed the passing into law of the Animal Welfare Act yesterday, which will help combat such pet abuse and neglect.

It was hailed by the charity as the single most important piece of legislation to protect animals for almost a century.

Under the new law, owners will have to take reasonable steps to provide their animals with a proper diet, including water); a suitable place to live; house them with, or apart from, other animals as necessary; ensure they are able to express normal behaviour; and protect them from pain, suffering and injury.

Mr Wass said: “At last people will have a legal duty to properly care for their animals and the RSPCA will be able to respond positively to reported incidents of neglect.

“Our whole purpose is to prevent animals from suffering at the hands of cruel or ignorant people, and this new law will help us in that mission. After all, the 'P' in the RSPCA stands for prevention - prosecution is a last resort.”

As well as a new welfare offence, the Animal Welfare Act, which is expected to come into force in England in April 2007, updates offences and penalties related to causing unnecessary suffering, fighting, docking of dogs' tails, mutilations and administering poisons.

Internet Link: www.rspca.org.uk

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