The UK is still rife with cruelty towards dogs
On September 3, a couple taking a stroll along a Sparkbrook canal heard a quiet whimpering sound coming from some undergrowth. They went to investigate and they found a hole, approximately 4ft deep, which had been covered in leaves and twigs. They scrabbled away the debris and were shocked by what they saw. A small dog at the very bottom of the hole, a dog with its neck, front and back legs tethered together. They managed to get the dog out of the hole and untied him. They then took this little dog home, where they have cared for him unaware of the stray dog procedures. On September 14 they took this dog to the PDSA for a check over explaining they had found the dog. The PDSA advised them to contact the dog warden in Birmingham. The dog warden then contacted K9 search and found a match for a dog that had gone missing on September 2. Thirteen-year-old Harvey was then returned to his ecstatic owners who really were beginning to believe they would never see their beloved dog again.
This true story is shocking on two counts, the first is the worry that so few people know what to do when they find a stray. The second, of course, is the obvious cruelty some human put this little dog through by binding his limbs and leaving him in the stifling pit with the sole intention that the dog would endure a painful and protracted death. The perpetrator of this crime wasnít caught and because of the circumstances in which the dog was found there was no police or RSPCA involvement. I seriously wonder how many times a case goes unreported.
Taking a look through the 2013 annual prosecutions report by the RSPCA is a challenge to a strong stomach. The levels of depraved and ignorant behaviour exhibited within, is extraordinary. Iím sure we all have our personal feelings regarding the RSPCA and its zealous implementation of the letter of the law but there cannot be any doubt that while we rely on the association to tackle animal abuse the RSPCA officers on the street face heartbreaking situations every day.
The successfully prosecuted cases in 2013 varied a great deal, one of the stories that made me see red concerned Rocky a Boxer cross. Rocky was a typical young dog who wasnít given enough training and attention, in April his owner decided he had enough of his boisterous behaviour and barking and took him to a lay-by in Northamptonshire. He tied Rocky to a post and shot him six times in the head with an airgun. When the 38-year-old owner realised the dog wasnít dead he then viciously attacked him with a spade until he thought he had extinguished Rockyís life. He then put him in a bin bag and left him by the roadside. Three days later a council workman who was clearing rubbish from the pull-in discovered the rank bin bag and beside it Rocky who had pitifully dragged grass around himself to make a nest and to keep himself warm.
Rocky was rushed to a vet where he received emergency treatment and a microchip was discovered. When the owner was questioned he originally said that Rocky had been sold through the internet but eventually confessed to inflicting the injuries which included five pellets to the head and one to the leg as well as the tremendous gash to the top of Rockyís head. The owner said he didnít think any charity would help him but admitted he hadnít actually tried to rehome the dog. The owner was jailed for 20 weeks and banned from owning an animal for 20 years.
Rocky, youíll be delighted to know recovered from his trauma and was successfully rehomed but this horrible crime could so easily have gone undiscovered.
The RSPCA doesnít actually have to prosecute in all cases, they can remove animals under section 20 of the Animal Welfare Act of 2006 when a court enables the action for the benefit of the animals. The finger of accusation cannot always be pointed at an individual. For instance, there was a case where an elderly lady had surrounded herself with cats; she was unable to keep them in a clean environment and as the rubbish piled up so she and the cats entered a dark and dingy twilight world of decay. When her cats were removed the owner attempted to bite one of the officers, such was her distress. How could prosecuting this lady truly be in anyoneís interest? Instead Social Services were brought in for support and the recommendation made that this lady should be helped to bring her home environment to a more acceptable standard before she considered taking on pets.
In another case an elderly woman was deemed as vulnerable and although her animals were originally removed for their own safety while the home was cleansed the RSPCA recognised the deep affinity between this owner and her animals and they eventually returned with ongoing support from the agencies involved.
When puppies are involved in cruelty itís somehow even worse. The eight Staffordshire Bull Terrier pups in Leicestershire in November of last year are an example. The brother and sister and their mother who had bred the puppies simply closed the door of the kitchen where the pups were and ignored their screams, their whimpers and eventually, their deathly silence. The RSPCA was tipped off to the heartless act and were horrified at the scene of misery that greeted them on opening the door. All the puppies had perished and their bodily remains still lay on the filthy floor where they had given up on life.
The family had bought a table top oven so they had no need to enter the kitchen, they continued to eat and relax in the room next door. How on earth could they have ignored those cries for help? Anyone who has bred a litter knows how insistent and intense pups can be when they are kept waiting for food, even for a short time. It was estimated that the pups were six months old when they died. While all three members of the family were banned from ever owning an animal again all prison sentences were suspended.
The RSPCA report saddens me a great deal; it shows that over the last three years at least so little has truly changed. Dogs give us their trust every day and every day someone betrays that trust. Humans are cruel to their own species, what chance do our companion animals have?
It is strange that it is advocated by the authorities that taking class B and C drugs, such as cannabis will lead to further more serious drug abuse and yet when a person abuses an animal it is not seen by the same authorities as a behaviour that becomes habitual or addictive. I would suggest that there is sufficient evidence of animal abuse leading to other types of violence and that slapping a wrist and sending the perpetrator off without properly exploring the reasons behind those vile actions is potentially dangerous. It also means that an animal died or was tortured and its passing is marked by an entry in a court ledger, just writing on a page and yet another number.