Cases of cruelty against animals are on the increase in the region.
Latest figures released by the RSPCA show that the number of people convicted for cruelty and neglect to animals rose by just over 12 per cent in the North.
A new report out today also revealed a rise in bans on keeping animals in 2011 and courts also handed down more prison sentences.
More than 70 people were put behind bars in 2011 and calls to the RSPCA control room hit 1,314,795 last year.
The shock statistics come ahead of the charity’s major fund-raising push, RSPCA Week 2012.
In the North of England, 529 people were convicted for cruelty and neglect compared to 471 in 2010 – a rise of 12.3 per cent.
Convictions for cruelty to dogs fell to 728, compared to 800 in 2010 – a decrease of nine per cent. There were 458 disqualifications for keeping animals imposed by courts compared to 415 in 2010 – a 10.3 per cent rise.
Courts imposed 22 prison sentences in 2011, compared to 19 in 2010, which represented an increase of 15.7 per cent.
Across the region, there was a 5.2 per cent drop in people reported to the RSPCA prosecutions department – 1,069 compared to 1,127 in 2010.
Many Wearside cases lead to animals being sent to Felledge RSPCA centre, which was officially opened last year by soap star and animal lover Adam Rickitt.
Mike Hogg, RSPCA North regional manager, said: “The RSPCA strives to keep animals with their owners wherever possible and offers advice on improving their welfare.
“Overwhelmingly this advice is followed, but where it isn’t, or where someone has already harmed an animal, there has to be a way of ensuring that animals are not left to suffer and the RSPCA is the charity people turn to and we are struggling to continue providing this service.
“We work closely with governmental and other charitable organisations, but we are the main organisation which prosecutes those who abuse animals and which can prevent cruelty to animals.
“We can’t do this without the help and support of the public and we need it now more than ever.”
RSPCA chief executive Gavin Grant said the charity was facing a “crisis” that was stretching it “to breaking point”, with annual costs for its 365-days-a-year service costing more than £124million.
It costs £15 a day to feed, house and provide medical attention for just one of the 7,762 dogs the RSPCA cared for in 2011.
To make a donation, ring 0300 123 8000 or visit www.rspca.org.uk/donate.
Help the RSPCA
RSPCA Week 2012 runs from April 30 to May 6. To find out more visit www.rspcaweek.org
l RSPCA Live takes place on April 28 and 29 when a new Facebook app will be launched and celebrities will be tweeting in support of the RSPCA.
l To get involved in RSPCA Live, people should ‘like’ the RSPCA’s Facebook Page and follow @RSPCA_Official on Twitter.
A seal was flown 200 miles for urgent specialist care after being found washed-up on Wearside.
Samson was found on rocks off the Sunderland coast earlier this year, badly injured and unable to move.
The British Divers’ Marine Life Rescue was called to help rescuers, who faced a race against time to recover the mammal. Samson was rushed to Ayres Vets, North Shields, where she was stabilised.
It became clear specialist treatment would be necessary to save her life, treatment which was only available in Norfolk.
Unlikely to survive the journey by road, Samson was flown to the RSPCA’s East Winch Wildlife Centre by a light aircraft.
She was treated before being returned to the wild.