Animal cruelty toll still second worst in the UK

Holly the West Highland terrier -  who belonged to former magistrate Gail Bradshaw and her daughter Nicola - developed a severe skin condition
Holly the West Highland terrier - who belonged to former magistrate Gail Bradshaw and her daughter Nicola - developed a severe skin condition
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RSPCA complaints in Greater Manchester have dipped slightly over the past 12 months, new figures have revealed.

But the sheer volume of cruelty inquiries across the region, including Wigan, is still second only to Greater London, according to the charity.

Last year there were 7,472 complaints investigated, taking in the 10 Manchester authorities, compared to 7,708 for 2016.

This is still more than the 7,333 cases recorded for the whole of 2015 though.

Several cases have hit the headlines over the same 12 months in the Wigan area.

In December Shaun Taylor, 21, from Scholes, was given a 12-week curfew by borough magistrates after he beat his Staffordshire terrier Rosie to such an extent that she suffered a burst ear-drum.

He was banned from keeping animals for life after the court heard that his hands were left red raw by the extent of the beating.

Leigh dog owner Anna McDonald was also given a curfew after her Staffordshire bull terrier Tess was said to have been left without food or water at her Tamar Grove home.

RSPCA inspector left tags on her front door to prove McDonald had not returned to care for Tess, after the dog had been left unattended. Neighbours were forced to feed the dog ice-cubes through the letterbox.

And former magistrate Gail Bradshaw and her daughter Nicola were convicted by a court in Preston earlier this month of causing unnecessary suffering to two West Highland terriers, called Poppy and Holly.

An inspector concerned with their cases said that the severe skin conditions the dogs had been left with was the worst she had seen in her 15-year career.

The mother’s vague recollection of previous vet visits, and lack of explanation for not following through on treatment plans, or seeking further attention for the pair, were remarked on by magistrates. The pair will be sentenced on May 8.

Investigators have especially concentrated on unnecessary suffering being caused to horses and ponies over the past 12 months, as the number of animal rescue organisations and welfare charities struggle to cope with the scale of the issue.

Once again the number of equine complaints in Greater Manchester being investigated dropped, year-on-year, with 532 recorded in 2017 and 572 for the previous period.

But this still led to the region being named in the top 10 for the number of horse cases nationwide.

Christine McNeil, the RSPCA inspectorate’s national equine co-ordinator, said: “We’ve been talking about the horse crisis for several years now, but the truth is the situation is just as severe today as when it started.

“Last year we took in more horses than we have in any of the past four years, and with our inspectors being called to rescue more and more every week, we are stretched to the limits.

“Up and down the country, horses are being found sick, or dumped liked rubbish, dying or dead. Distressingly, this is common and it’s a huge issue.

“We are constantly receiving calls to our cruelty line - on average 80 per day about horses alone - as well as messages every day on social media from very concerned and upset people asking for our help.”

Earlier this year Declan Ashhurst O’Shaughnessy was given 150 hours community service after being convicted of allowing three ponies to go lame at Barlow’s Farm in Hindley. His mother Lorraine Ashurst was found guilty of the same offences but is yet to be dealt with. He is appealing his sentence.

The RSPCA was called in after repeated complaints about horses and ponies straying onto nearby roads.