Animal cruelty throughout Scotland reached an all time high last year with a record number of cases reported to the Scottish SPCA.
A spokesman for the animal welfare charity described 2013 as their busiest year ever with more calls than ever to its animal helpline, more pets rehomed and wildlife saved.
He said they carried out more investigations than ever before with an average of more than one person being banned from keeping animals every week. He added that calls to the animal helpline leapt to 228,143 last year, 17 per cent more than in 2012.
Chief Superintendent Mike Flynn said: “Many of the calls we receive are from people reporting suspected neglect and mistreatment, alerting us to animals in danger and either wanting to rehome an animal or asking us to take in their pets.”
He said that horrifying animal cruelty cases dealt with by the Scottish courts in 2013 included a Perthshire farmer receiving a lifetime ban for neglecting over a thousand sheep and cattle, a Stirling puppy dealer who mistreated 57 dogs and a Larkhall man being banned from owning animals for six years for breaking a dog’s leg by throwing her down the stairs.
He continued: “Our inspectors were faced with a catalogue of neglect and abuse. While most of the cases we dealt with were caused by ignorance and a lack of understanding of what an animal needs, many involved wilful and mindless cruelty.
“Last year 58 people were banned from owning animals which is a shameful average of more than one a week.”
He said that it was encouraging that so many people called the helpline because they cared for animals.
He added: “That’s a positive sign and suggests overall we are still a nation of animal lovers. Investing in education is vital if we are to get our message across to sections of the Scottish public who don’t treat animals as they should.
“Our free Prevention through Education programme reached over 300,000 children in 2013, which is an essential and significant step in the right direction as this will have a profound difference for animal welfare in Scotland for generations to come.”
Anyone aware of an animal in danger or distress should call the Scottish SPCA animal helpline on 03000 999 999.