WE are supposed to be a nation of animal lovers. Yet West Yorkshire, and the North, is bucking the national trend when it comes to cruelty convictions.
While across England and Wales the number of people convicted has decreased from 11.7 per cent from 1,552 to 1,371, the RSPCA's North of England region has seen a 6.6 per cent increase from 566 in 2013 compared to 531 in 2012.
In West Yorkshire the figures, released from the charity's Prosecutions Annual Report published to coincide with RSPCA Week which runs until Sunday, appear to remain static with 126 people convicted in 2012 and 2013.
Carol Neale, RSPCA inspector for Leeds and West Yorkshire, including Bradford, believes the reason why figures tend to be higher in the North is due to the large concentration of people living in a small area.
She also believes people are also becoming more vigilant and are more likely to report anything of concern to the RSPCA. "If people see anything they are concerned about call us," urges Carol.
She also believes people's financial circumstances may also have a bearing on the situation. People may buy an animal and find they cannot afford to care for it. When the animal becomes ill they cannot afford treatment for it exacerbating the circumstances.
Not only does the animal suffer, the situation also places a huge burden on the RSPCA which is already experiencing demand on its services.
Terry Singh, Bradford & District RSPCA branch manager, says: "It is quite sad that we are supposed to be a nation of animal lovers but are we a nation of animal keepers? As we see from the latest information sent out by the RSPCA we are seeing a vast increase of cruelty within the Yorkshire area of which Bradford is part of."
He believes education is the key to help combat cruelty against animals. "I think a lot of it is education people and promoting responsible attitudes towards caring for pets."
Terry says he finds it 'quite appalling' they are having to remove animals from other people's property and having to care for them at a great cost to the charity when the owners should be looking after them responsibly and caring for them themselves.
"People take them on but then lose interest and whether the animal gets too much for them or whether they cannot care less and disown it , other priorities take over but it is quite sad in this day and age that people continue to behave in this manner. All we can do is try and educate through talking to children - they are the pet owners of tomorrow."
RSPCA regional manager, Mike Hogg, says: "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."
In the North of England region, the RSPCA investigated 1,763 more complaints in 2013 than in 2012 (38,664 up from 36,901). Across England and Wales the number of complaints investigated rose from 150,833 in 2012 to 153,770 in 2013 (a rise of 2,937).
Investigations that resulted in prosecutions and convictions in 2013 included a male Rottweiler called Kaiser who was found dead in a filthy yard in Greater Manchester with an extremely emaciated female called Jez curled up next to him. Inside the house one of their pups was found dead and another had to be put to sleep on veterinary advice.
Jez, re-christened April, and two surviving puppies recovered from their ordeal and were rehomed.
According to the report dogs were the most likely to be involved in cruelty cases with 2,505 related convictions across England and Wales in 2013, although encouragingly this was slightly down on 2012 (2,568).
David Bowles, head of external affairs at the RSPCA, says: "Although there have been fewer convictions relating to dogs, we are still rescuing more and more and the fact is that the RSPCA takes in some of the most needy dogs - we don't pick and choose by breed or by the desperate lives that they've lived before they came to us
RSPCA Week is the charity's annual fundraising drive. For more information visit rspcaweek.org.uk