CRUELTY cases brought by the RSPCA have seen a sharp rise - and there is little doubting that Wiganers are contributing to this worrying trend.
Shock new figures show the animal charity investigated 159,831 allegations last year compared to 153,770 in 2013.
Greater Manchester, including Wigan, had the third highest county number with 8,069 which resulted in 57 people convicted of 133 crimes.
There were 1,025 direct cruelty (beatings, fighting, improper killing) complaints - up from 898 the previous year.
There have been a number of shaming court cases from the borough in recent months. A Wigan couple were banned from keeping animals for 10 years after being found guilty of starving their young female Weimaraner type and allowing her to suffer.
Lola was extremely emaciated weighing just 14.5kg when she was rescued by the RSPCA - around half what would be a healthy weight.
Jennifer Plater, 39, and 41-year-old partner Michael Knight were convicted last year of causing unnecessary suffering to Lola by failing to investigate and address the causes of her weight loss and poor bodily condition and failing to meet her needs by failing to provide a suitable diet and and fresh water.
RSPCA inspector Vicki McDonald said: “Lola was so emaciated you could see every bone in her body.
“Anyone could see that she was extremely underweight, in fact we were alerted to her plight after a shocked member of the public saw her owner out with her,though he does deny this. She was like a walking skeleton.”
Fewer than three weeks after rescue Lola’s weight increased to 17.5kg and nine months later she weighed 21.4kg - a 47.6 per cent increase in body weight.
As well as a ban on keeping animals, both defendants were given night time curfew orders for 26 weeks. Lola was signed over to the RSPCA an has now been happily rehomed.
RSPCA chief veterinary officer James Yeates said that the increasing number of cases was “extremely concerning.”
He said: “Most of the complaints we receive involve animals being neglected or not receiving the right care and often we can put that right by offering welfare advice. However, it is shocking that in 2014 people are still being deliberately cruel in what can be disturbingly inventive ways.”
Some of the animals deliberately abused last year included a cat who had been hit by a car in Lancashire and whose passer-by attacker, instead of trying to save him, fatally “kicked him like a football” several times.
It was also the year that saw five prosecutions relating to the Neknomination online craze in which people took part in dares involving swallowing live fish, frogs and even a lizard.
The majority of RSPCA work is improving animal welfare by giving advice to owners and the number of animal owners who were offered and accepted welfare advice increased from 76,810 in 2013 to 82,746 in 2014.
Mr Yeates said: “Our aim is always to prevent cruelty so it’s really positive that a greater number of people followed our advice. Crucially this means that although we are still receiving complaints about cruelty we are often getting to incidents before suffering has occurred and helping owners to provide for their animals, whether that means getting veterinary care for them or just giving them the right diet.”