WEST Yorkshire heads the national league of shame for animal cruelty, according to new statistics released today by the RSPCA.

The county has a much higher number of people convicted of animal welfare offences than any other county in the country for 2012, with 126 people prosecuted.

That figure is substantially more than the second worst area, Durham, where 100 offenders were convicted.

Yorkshire has performed badly, with East Yorkshire and North Yorkshire also appearing in the top ten for prosecutions, with 74 and 64 convictions respectively.

According to the RSPCA, the north of England's record for animal welfare prosecutions is usually poor, but they are unable to fully explain why.

The scale of suffering in Bradford in the last 12 months has been highlighted with the case of a Staffordshire bull terrier which died in her owner's car after being left inside the vehicle, which was parked outside a dog-friendly pub on one of hottest days of 2013.

Anne Patricia Naylor and husband Kenneth Raymond Naylor pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering at Bradford and Keighley Magistrates' Court, after their dog Millie died through heat stroke, and were banned from keeping animals for three years.

They had left the dog in the car for an hour while they ate lunch at The Woolpack pub in Esholt and found her dead when they returned to the car. Temperatures had been close to 30 degrees celsius on the day.

RSPCA inspector Carol Neale said: “What happened to this dog was absolutely tragic.

"She should never have been left in the car. The fact that the pub is actually a dog-friendly pub, where dogs are not just allowed in the beer garden but also inside, and which has bowls of water down for them, makes it even worse.”

The details of prosecution numbers have been released from the RSPCA's Prosecutions Annual Report, put out to co-incide with #RSPCAWeek.

Although numbers of prosecutions were down nationally by almost 12 per cent, from 1,552 in 2012 to 1,371 last year, there was a rise in the charity's North of England region of 6.6 per cent.

RSPCA regional manager Mike Hogg said: “The figures are usually the highest in the North of England, and of course it’s impossible to say for certain why that is.

“We have a large number of big cities in the region where greater numbers of people typically live. There also tend to be greater levels of poverty and education in these places. Another factor could be that people living in the North are more likely to call the RSPCA if they see something they don’t think is right.”