East Sussex sees biggest rise in animal cruelty allegations in South-East

Numerous cats and kittens were found living in unsuitable conditions. Photo: RSPCA
Numerous cats and kittens were found living in unsuitable conditions. Photo: RSPCA
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East Sussex saw the largest increase in allegations of animal cruelty in the South-East last year - a rise of nearly 13% from 1,959 in 2015 to 2,211 in 2016, according to the RSPCA’s annual figures, released today.

This included around 50 cats and kittens living in squalid and totally unsuitable conditions at a house in East Sussex.

Our officers are under increased pressure having to respond to more calls and investigate more complaints

Paul Stilgoe, RSPCA Superintendent for the South East said: “I never stop feeling appalled when I look back at the shocking catalogue of cruelty the region’s inspectors are called about. We investigate such horrific cases of abuse and extreme neglect - as this year’s figures and case studies show

“Thankfully, there are also some happy endings to remind us what we strive for. As well as investigating the cruelty, our inspectors and animal centre staff rescue, rehabilitate and rehome thousands of animals a year, and this year there are some particularly touching stories in the region about the lives some of them have gone on to lead.”

The RSPCA’s leading inspector believes the surge in calls to Britain’s biggest animal welfare charity is down to the public becoming more aware and less tolerant of animal cruelty and neglect, rather than a sign that people are becoming more cruel.

Dermot Murphy, Assistant Director of the RSPCA Inspectorate, said: “I believe that the figures from last year show that we’re not becoming crueler, but that people are simply less willing to stand by and do nothing if they think an animal is suffering.

“People are increasingly likely to share images or footage on their social media accounts of animals they believe are not being cared for properly, while many will see material their friends have shared and then contact us about them.

“Either way, our officers are under increased pressure having to respond to more calls and investigate more complaints, but it is thanks to their dedication, as well as RSPCA staff and volunteers across England and Wales that we are able to transform the lives of tens of thousands of animals each year.”

CASE STUDY - report by the RSPCA

Nearly 50 cats and kittens were rescued by the RSPCA after being found living in squalid and completely unsuitable conditions at a house in Hastings, East Sussex.

We found the remains of one cat, likely to have been dead for a considerable length of time, and others in a lean, neglected condition. They were all very hungry and the conditions within the property were very poor - with piles of cat mess in the litter trays.

Forty-seven cats and kittens were removed by the police and placed into our care.

Inspector Alison Edwards said, “The cats and kittens in this case were living in poor and filthy conditions, completely unsuited to their needs.

“They were hungry and needed veterinary care and worming. There was also far too many of them living on top of each other - which had led most of them to be extremely nervous.

“They needed quite a bit of socialising to get them ready to be rehomed and recover from their crowded conditions, but have now been happily rehabilitated and rehomed.

An East Sussex woman was banned from keeping all animals for three years after RSPCA officers found 48 cats and kittens at her address in Hastings. The woman had previously been disqualified from keeping all animals for seven years following a previous animal welfare conviction in 2011.

The 42 year-old woman pleaded guilty to one offence of keeping animals while disqualified at Eastbourne Magistrates’ Court on the 15th April. She was fined £50, ordered to pay £300 towards costs, a £20 victim surcharge and disqualified from keeping all animals for a further three years.

All 47 cats and kittens have since been fully rehabilitated and rehomed throughout a network of RSPCA animals centres.