Animal cruelty complaints in Staffordshire have soared above the national average, according to shocking figures from the RSPCA.
The number of complaints in Staffordshire has increased by 4.9%, with 3,350 complaints registered in 2015-16 compared to 3,192 the previous year.
It means Staffordshire ranks as the fourth highest in the UK for animal cruelty cases, and the rise is above the national average of 4.5%. Neighbouring Cheshire saw a 5.1% drop in cases.
RSPCA inspectors in the West Midlands investigated 92 new reports of animal cruelty every day in 2015-16 – that’s four new complaints every hour.
In one Stoke-on-Trent case, 15-year-old Yorkshire Terrier’s Philip’s fur was so matted he was barely recognisable, and was so hungry he tried to eat his own fur as vets clipped it from his body.
The dog was found by passers-by after he was dumped outside the Queen of Hearts Hotel in Lilydale Road, Bucknall.
RSPCA Insp Charlotte Melvin dealt with the case.
She said: “Philip was in such a bad way.
“He was so matted he barely resembled a dog at first glance.
“On top of that, his fur was covered in faeces and he could not see as it was completely covering his eyes.
“There was absolutely no way he would have been able to find his way around in the state that he was in, as he was so weak, so we do believe that he was dumped.
“It is heartbreaking to think what he had been through, as he was also very skinny.
“When we got him to the vets he had his hair clipped off – and he was so hungry that he tried to eat his own hair when it flipped off in front of him.”
Phillip was not microchipped so the owner was never traced.
In another case, 11-year-old cat Milky was left with extensive injuries to its feet after someone dragged it across the pavement for a quarter of a mile in Newcastle-under-Lyme.
Horrified residents heard the cat crying alerted the RSPCA
Insp Melvin said: “Towards the end, Milky was so exhausted he stopped resisting, and he was therefore being dragged on the side of his body – which led someone to believe he was dead.
“Milky had collapsed and could not even stand. He was in such a bad way he was hospitalised for five days.”
Milky was rehomed through the RSPCA’s Gonsal Farm Animal Centre in Shropshire, where he was renamed Olaf but died some months later.
Dermot Murphy, assistant director of the RSPCA Inspectorate, said: “It never fails to shock me when I look back on the extreme instances of animal cruelty the RSPCA has been called upon to investigate.
“It continues to outrage and sadden me that people can be capable of such deliberate brutality towards animals, but equally it drives me on to ensure that perpetrators of animal cruelty are put before the courts.
“I believe the figures show we’re not becoming crueler, but that people are simply less willing to stand by and do nothing if they think an animal is suffering.
“People are increasingly likely to share images or footage on their social media accounts of animals they believe are not being cared for properly, while many will see material their friends have shared and then contact us about them.
“Either way, our officers are under increased pressure having to respond to more calls and investigate more complaints.”