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Animal cruelty crisis: Why are so many pets suffering?
Taking on an animal is a commitment for the length of the pet’s life.
Yet so many animals are failed through their owners’ irresponsibility, and their disregard for meeting the basic needs of their pets is leading to increased demand for care at RSPCA centres such as Bradford.
Recently, Wyke woman Eileen Colman was banned from looking after animals for life after being found guilty of 15 charges of animal cruelty.
Stacey Ross, of Keighley, was jailed for 28 days and banned from keeping any animal for five years after admitting causing unnecessary suffering to an animal. A kitten crushed in a sofa’s reclining mechanism was left in agony for almost 20 hours before she took it to the vets where it was put to sleep.
Beth Clements, RSPCA chief inspector covering West Yorkshire and East Lancashire, says Bradford has always had a high number of cruelty cases, predominantly due to the size of its population, but adds they have seen an increase in prosecutions across the country.
Beth says it is difficult to know why, but she believes there are a number of reasons such as veterinary costs, which may put people off having their pet treated.
“The neutering of animals is key – there is a lot of indiscriminate breeding of cats and dogs. People assume if their animal is pregnant they can sell them or give away the offspring, but then there are so many unwanted animals we are struggling to cope with.
“Equally, people need to think carefully if they are going to get an animal. People need to think very carefully what they are taking on – can they afford it? Have they got time for it?” says Beth.
Terry Singh, manager of Bradford & District RSPCA, says the introduction of the Animal Welfare Act of 2006 has put more onus on owners to ensure their pets are properly cared for.
“If they take on an animal they should look after it. If people fail to do this they are failing their responsibility in ownership.”
He says from 2012 to 2013 the RSPCA has seen an increase in animals arriving at the Bradford centre, where they are already coping with a cat crisis.
Fearing the current cat season will result in a population explosion, owners are being encouraged to neuter their pets to prevent further breeding.
According to Terry, the city’s cat crisis has now reached an “all-time high” with almost 200 cats being brought into the branch between January and April this year.
“It has been an ongoing problem for several years but we are now over capacity the majority of the time and are struggling to provide the care and veterinary treatment for the many strays of Bradford,” says Terry.
He believes the situation has been exacerbated by the current economic climate with owners failing to neuter and microchip their pets, but says the branch can subsidise treatment for low-income families and is opening its clinic to clients not on benefits in a bid to stem the problem.
In a bid to improve its facilities, Bradford RSPCA recently launched an appeal to raise £125,000 to modernise its centre, improve the rehoming and adoption facilities along with the reception area and create a place where people can socialise with their potential pets.
The appeal has already been given a boost thanks to staff at the Ginger Goose pub in Bradford, who recently donated £56 from their monthly raffles.
And a group of dog groomers from Mucky Pups in Adel, Leeds, are also supporting the appeal when they embark on their Monte Carlo Or Bust Banger rally adventure next month.
Organiser, Hailey Green, is taking part with workmates Samantha Bryson, Amelia Farber and schoolpal Louise Lenton-Bradley, along with 16 other friends.
After buying their £250 Ford Focus, the girls selected a theme. Christened Round The Twist, the team chose to deck out their wheels as the retro Twister Board game complete with spinner on the bonnet!
Sporting their Twister outfits, the girls will travel to Hull, board the ferry to Zeebrugge and travel through Belgium, France, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland and Italy before ending the rally in Monte Carlo.
Hailey says they decided to raise money for the RSPCA’s Bradford centre after touring the facilities.
“We spend a lot of time with animals and decided we wanted to do something to help animals.”
To support the team, visit uk.virginmoneygiving.com/ team/mcob.