Dog cruelty reports soar - and RSPCA fears there could be more to come this summer

The RSPCA has revealed a significant increase in dogs being victims of cruelty since the start of the pandemic – and this is expected to rise during the summer.

Figures released as part of the charity’s Cancel Out Cruelty campaign show 44,427 reports of cruelty were made last year involving 92,244 dogs.

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That was 253 a day or more than 10 an hour – and includes 10,228 dogs reported as beaten.

The abandoned puppy found in AthertonThe abandoned puppy found in Atherton
The abandoned puppy found in Atherton
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This shows a 16 per cent increase since 2020, when cruelty reports involving 79,513 dogs were made.

In Greater Manchester there were 2,325 reports of dog cruelty during this period, with 415 classed as intentional harm.

The Shih tzu puppy was discovered by a dog walker and rushed to a nearby vet, who contacted the RSPCA.

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But despite emergency care, the dog died from parvovirus – a highly contagious life-threatening disease.

With more people becoming dog owners during lockdown, the charity is concerned the number of cruelty incidents will increase, particularly in the summer.

The RSPCA receives 90,000 calls to its cruelty line every month, but in July and August calls rise to 134,000 and reports of cruelty soar to 7,600.

Dog welfare expert Dr Samantha Gaines said: “Every year, we see many dogs coming into our care bearing the physical and mental scars that were inflicted at the hands of the very people who were meant to keep them safe and love them unconditionally.

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“We are supposed to be a nation of animal lovers and dogs are ‘man’s best friend’ as the saying goes, but in reality we receive many cruelty reports every day about dogs who have suffered the most unimaginable cruelty and a 16 per cent increase of dogs being cruelly treated in a year is really concerning.

“Our officers have dealt with all sorts of horrific incidents including dogs repeatedly beaten, stabbed, burned, drowned, poisoned, some have been left to die from starvation.

“With the public’s help in reporting cruelty, they have been able to save many dogs from ongoing abuse. Sadly though in some cases others have died at the hands of their tormentors and it is then our job to try and bring some justice for the victim.

“During the summer we see a rise in cruelty and this year as we have seen such a massive increase in dog ownership since lockdown, we are bracing ourselves for even more reports.

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“We believe there are a number of factors which mean summer is our busiest time. Perhaps there is boredom or pressures at home with children being off school which can make existing difficulties magnified.

“This year the cost-of-living crisis has added a further dimension and we believe we could see people really struggling to care for their pets, which may lead them to lash out or could see more animals than ever being abandoned or given up.

“All these factors mean that we need the public's support more than ever to help Cancel Out Cruelty. As a charity, we are bracing to tackle a summer of suffering but we cannot do this without your help and we rely on public support to carry on our rescue, rehabilitation and rehoming work.”