SCOTLAND’s animal welfare charity has dubbed last year “the worst in recent memory” for shocking animal cruelty.
The SSPCA said that the sheer severity of cruelty consistently shocked investigators, who have found animals that have been stabbed, starved, shot and set on fire.
They highlighted one appalling case in which one drunk owner blasted their tiny staffie dog in the head 13 times with an airgun, before leaving it for dead, while another unsolved case saw a dog tied up and burned to death.
The charity body – which can pursue its own cases against offenders in the courts – dealt with an increase in incidents and rescues of more than 25 per cent from 2007.
Last night Chief Superintendent Mike Flynn said that his officers have had to deal with “sickening and harrowing scenes” in 2009 in particular.
He said: “Our inspectors and ambulance drivers have had to deal with some of the most sickening and harrowing scenes you can imagine.
“One case which stands out from last year was a wee staffie dog we rescued that was so gentle and loving, despite having survived being shot in the head 13 times with an airgun by her drunken owner in Glasgow.
“Her owner was prosecuted and banned from keeping animals and she was successfully re-homed.
“However, there are times when we don’t get the information we need to bring the perpetrators to justice.
“One of the most mindless attacks happened in Fife when a newborn foal was slashed across the neck, receiving a deep eight inch wound. Remarkably she survived her ordeal but many other animals didn’t.
“Equally disturbing was an incident in Peebles where a dog was found by a member of the public burned to a crisp. Again, we turned to the public for information but sadly that case remains unresolved.”
Last year the SSPCA cared for 14,019 animals across Scotland, up from 12,545 the year before, 12,023 in 2007.
It also dealt with a staggering 10,000 more incidents last year than it did in 2007, an increase of a quarter.
Flynn added that the SSPCA needed the “eyes and ears” of the public, and asked them to look out for cases of neglect, as well as abuse.
He said: “It’s not just outright cruelty, we are also tackling a constant stream of neglect, where owners, for whatever reason, don’t feed their animals or take them to a vet when they are sick.
“We had several successful prosecutions last year against people who simply turned a blind eye to the animals living in their homes suffering in silence from painful skin diseases, riddled with cancerous tumours or emaciated because they’ve not been fed for a prolonged period of time.
“Taking all of this into account it is fair to say that 2009 was the worst year in recent memory for animal cruelty.
“We continue to work tirelessly to rescue and rehome defenceless animals across the country and to educate children in particular that animals deserve to be treated with kindness and humanity.
“Sadly, cruelty to animals continues to be a major problem in Scotland.
“Last year we launched a new and free interactive school education programme helping us to teach the next generation of animal carers about why animals deserve to be treated with compassion and respect – where that’s not happening is where we need to get involved.
“The public are our eyes and ears and we rely on them to contact us and report their concerns. We encourage anyone who knows of an animal in distress to call our Animal Helpline on 03000 999 999.
“That call could save an animal’s life or change it for the better.”