It is difficult to imagine the kind of mindless cruelty which could lead a person to repeatedly stab a dog with a potato peeler or abandon a blind kitten in a carrier bag, yet these are two of the cases the RSPCA came across in this region last year.
According to recent RSPCA figures, cases of animal cruelty and neglect soared by a quarter last year alone and in Northamptonshire 34 defendants were reported and 14 convicted.
Some cases seen by the animal charity involved meaningless acts of violence and some came down to willful neglect, perhaps caused by poverty which sent vets’ bills spiralling down the priority list.
But the result was the same...animal suffering.
In one recent county case, an eight-week-old border terrier cross puppy, stricken with a hernia and severe skin condition, was found dumped near Moulton College. She was taken to the vet and passed on to the care of RSPCA fosterers.
The trend for the abandonment of ailing pets is one that is increasingly common, according to the RSPCA’s Northamptonshire branch.
Many of the animals falling victim to cruelty or neglect end up in the temporary ward of RSPCA foster carers.
Branch manager Jacqui Burgess said: “We are so full at the moment, we are absolutely jam-packed and we end up paying for boarding which is not ideal. The majority we take on are personal abandonments and often neglect cases. We haven’t got the facilities to take on animals people don’t want but we do if someone has passed away, we will take on the animals in extreme circumstances.”
Many of the animals discovered are those which have been thrown out of their home with a medical condition which requires treatment by a vet, or discarded because the owners cannot rehome them in time for their own house move.
Jacqui said: “The animals are at the bottom of the shopping list. A lot of animals are coming in sick and undernourished and in need of feeding up; a lot are coming in with illnesses.
“We had one eight-year-old ginger cat called Rupert who was pretty much 99 per cent blind and had been abandoned on a village green in Northamptonshire, he is now in our care. He had started off with a condition which could have been sorted out initially with veterinary treatment.
“To just abandon something like that without any treatment is pretty awful.”
But there is a penalty to pay when animals are neglected.
Earlier this year two people were jailed for four months and banned from keeping horses for 10 years after they neglected seven horses in their care.
The RSPCA was called to attend the incident in Blisworth last year where the horses were all found in a poor condition, and the charity spent thousands of pounds in boarding the horses after they were seized. Jacqui said she believes a lot of the problems in some cases come down to a lack of money.
She commented: “People don’t plan ahead and have insurance for animals and don’t have the money to take them to the vet. But there is help out there.” Anyone interested in rehoming an animal or becoming an RSPCA fosterer can ring Jacqui on 07787342601.
Tale of a three-legged tabby cat called Betty
“SHE is now my three-legged friend,” said RSPCA inspector Michelle Hare, speaking about her newly fostered cat Betty.
Betty, an eight-year-old tabby and white cat, was found in Northampton a few months ago with a foot infection so bad she needed to have her entire leg amputated.
Michelle explained: “She had got an infection first in her pad, but it then spread up the leg.
“She wasn’t removed from the owners, she was found by someone else.”
But Michelle is no stranger to such cases of abandonment in the course of her work.
She said: “I recently found a mum and four one-week-old kittens dumped in a box which just had a note with the word ‘help’ written on it; that was in Tresham Green, Northampton. Apart from them being a bit skinny and having fleas, there were no major health problems with them, at all. Dumped cats are a common occurrence, it is ridiculous.”
Cats seem to make up a huge portion of the work taken on by the RSPCA in Northamptonshire. Currently the branch is caring for about 60 cats in foster homes.
Branch manager Jacqui Burgess said it is common to find animals in need of veterinary care.
She said: “With Betty, her condition should have just been a case of some veterinary treatment but because it was left it was a major operation.
“Vets’ bills are double this year compared to what they were last year.”