CRUEL pet owners on Wearside have put the area near the top of a league of animal cruelty.
Animal charity the RSPCA today released figures showing the number of people convicted of animal cruelty offences in 2013.
Durham had the second-highest figure across England and Wales, with 100 people brought before the courts. There were 42 convictions in Tyne and Wear.
The number of people convicted dropped from 1,552 to 1,371 – a fall of nearly 12 per cent, but across the North of England, the number was up 6.6 per cent at 566 in 2013, compared to 531 in 2012.
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.”
The RSPCA investigated 1,763 more complaints across the North in 2013 than 2012, following up 38,664 reports of animal cruelty.
In County Durham, a female Shih Tzu dog now called Maggie suffered a catalogue of cruelty, leaving her with 29 fractures to her tiny bones.
Luckily she is now being cared for in a new home, after the RSPCA intervened.
Despite being known as man’s best friend, the dog, was still the animal most likely to be involved in cruelty cases, featuring in 2,505 convictions across England and Wales in 2013, slightly down on 2012, when there were 2,568.
The shock statistics come as part of RSPCA Week 2014, an annual fundraising and awareness drive, which runs until June 22.
To make a donation, go to www.rspca.org.uk/rocky, text HELP to 78866 to donate £3, or call 0300 123.
Woman jailed for neglect
A WOMAN who let her pets go without food and water was jailed for cruelty.
Jacqueline Jackson was sentenced to eight weeks in prison on four counts of cruelty to animals in February.
The 37-year-old neglected five pets, one of which had to be put down, Sunderland Magistrates’ Court heard.
Police went to Jackson’s home in Conway Road, Hylton Castle, just after 6.30am on June 28, 2013, for another matter, but when they opened the unlocked door they were greeted by “an overpowering smell”.
Three cats were found in the house, as well as a greyhound dog, which had no access to food or water.
A malnourished ferret, which was 50 per cent under its correct body weight, was discovered in a garden shed surrounded by pheasant feathers, and what appeared to be a deer’s skull.
One of the cats had to be put down.
Another had an ear infection so severe, it caused bleeding to the ear canal.
The ferret had no body fat, which could have been fatal, the court heard.
Jackson pleaded not guilty to two counts of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal and two counts of failing to ensure their welfare last year.
However, she failed to turn up for her trial in December, and was found guilty in her absence.
She was eventually sentenced and as well as being sent to prison was banned from looking after any animals for five years.
Her pets are now in the care of the RSPCA.