Intentional harm to dogs, including improper and attempted killings, poisonings, beatings and mutilations, is happening on a “massive scale” and has risen since the coronavirus pandemic, the RSPCA has said.
In 2022, there were 9,776 reports of dog cruelty made to the charity, compared with 8,176 in 2021 and 7,691 in 2020, a rise of 27% in three years, which experts suggest could be due to rising financial strain on families.
Dermot Murphy, of the RSPCA, said: “Dogs are the most abused animal in this country and we investigate more complaints about them than any other type of animal – 27 dogs a day are cruelly treated – one every hour.”
In November 2021, puppy Terry was left with life-threatening head injuries after his then owner beat him to the point he collapsed and was unresponsive.
A member of the public rushed the whippet to Hull PDSA Pet Hospital, where staff believed he was already dead until they noticed light breathing and saved his life.
Terry returned to full health and was later adopted by vet nurse Rachel Coombes, who was on-shift and helped to treat him.
Ms Coombes, 42, said: “I just felt a connection as soon as he was brought in as he was in such a state we actually thought initially he hadn’t made it.
“Then when we spotted gentle breathing I did say ‘if he survives this I am going to give him a home’, which is exactly what I did.”
The RSPCA said cases of cruelty typically rise in the summer, with 35 beatings reported a day in August 2022.
Mr Murphy added: “Right now, animal cruelty is happening in England and Wales on a massive scale and rising.
“It is heartbreaking that we are seeing such sad figures which show animal cruelty is, very sadly, on the rise.
“While we don’t know for certain why there has been an increase, the cost-of-living crisis and the post-pandemic world we live in has created an animal welfare crisis.”