The RSPCA investigated more than 3,100 complaints about animal cruelty in Derbyshire last year - with nine new animal welfare concerns being looked into by local inspectors every day.
There were more complaints in Derbyshire than in Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire and Northamptonshire - making it the cruellest county in the East Midlands region.
The figure has been released as part of the charity’s annual Cruelty Statistics, which shows that, nationally, 141,760 complaints about animal welfare were investigated in 2017. The total figure for Derbyshire is 3,157.
In contrast, 2,902 complaints were investigated in Nottinghamshire, 2,277 in Leicestershire and 1,820 in Northamptonshire.
Of the calls received in Derbyshire, the majority (1,803) related to dogs, followed by cats (719) and then horses (397).
Simon Parker, the RSPCA’s chief inspector for the county, said: “Animal cruelty horrifies much of today’s society and this figure tells us that there are suffering animals in the county who need our help every day.
“We are very grateful to everyone who takes the time to raise concerns. A call from a member of the public not only helps to give a voice to animals in desperate need but it helps our officers investigate and help bring animal abusers to justice.
“It is shocking that people can be capable of such deliberate brutality towards animals, but equally it drives us on to ensure that perpetrators of animal cruelty are put before the courts.
“There are too many acts of deliberate cruelty including animals being beaten or starved to death. One which has stayed in my mind is a bird who was deliberately burnt alive, which was filmed and posted online.
“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 that we are able to transform the lives of thousands of animals in Derbyshire each year.”
Chief Inspector Parker added: “We urge the public to keep reporting concerns to us on our cruelty helpline number - 0300 1234 999 - which operates 24 hours a day. Don’t be afraid to call - we will always do our best to respond as quickly as we can.”
The RSPCA is this year focusing on the plight of horses as animal rescuers and welfare charities struggle to cope with an ongoing equine crisis.
Nationally, almost 1,000 horses were rescued by the charity from cruelty, suffering and neglect last year and 928 horses are still in the charity’s care.
In Derbyshire in 2017, the RSPCA received 397 complaints about 309 horses.
The RSPCA’s 24-hour emergency line received more than 80 calls a day about horses in 2017.
Chief Inspector Parker said: “Many of the calls we receive about equines are concerns about them being underweight, due to poor grazing or a lack of supplementary food, and also concerns about overgrown hooves.”
Chesterfield - Crossbreed dog Sooty was beaten by his owner when he went to the toilet inside. The RSPCA was able to prosecute the owner after being handed audio evidence of the man beating his dog.
In the audio recording, which was recorded by a member of the public, the owner could be heard shouting: “If I tell you to do something, I expect you to do it” and telling the dog to “shut it” when he was whimpering in distress.
RSPCA inspector Rachel Leafe, who investigated, said: “The audio isn’t very nice at all. It lasts for around five minutes and the dog, Sooty, can clearly be heard squealing and whimpering loudly while being beaten, and the owner can be heard shouting and delivering blows to the dog.
“It would have been difficult for someone to have to listen to the beating, however we are grateful that they had the initiative to record it as it gave us the evidence we needed to prosecute.”
Inspector Leafe continued: “He also said in interview that he grabbed the dog by his testicles and said, ‘You don’t like that, do you?’ He later called our national cruelty helpline and admitted the incidents, that he had also pinned Sooty down by his ears to ‘incapacitate’ him, and that it was because he was always messing in the flat.
“What Sooty went through would have been horrific and he would have been terrified.”
The owner pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering and was handed an eight-year ban on keeping all animals. He was also given a 12-week prison sentence suspended for 12 months, and was ordered to pay £200 costs and a £115 victim surcharge.
Sooty and a second dog called Pearl were signed over into RSPCA care.
Pearl was rehomed but sadly, despite staff working hard to rehabilitate Sooty, he was put to sleep on veterinary advice after a member of staff was attacked by him. Despite working hard to rehabilitate Sooty the mental scars he suffered meant he was severely affected behaviourally and he was put to sleep under veterinary advice.
American Bulldog crossbreed Pearl has landed on her paws with Jake and his family, including six children who live in Derbyshire.
Shirebrook - 30 cats and a ferret were rescued from a bungalow which was waist-high in animal faeces. The animals had been left to fend for themselves in conditions described as ‘horrific’. The RSPCA was called to the property after a member of the public raised concerns.
RSPCA inspector Deborah Scotcher, who investigated, said: “Initially I looked through the window and saw what looked like an extremely messy room cluttered with furniture and general rubbish. But once we got inside, I realised that what I saw through the window was not the full story.
“It had, quite simply, become overrun with the animals. The conditions in the house were horrific - there was so much animal faeces which in some parts of the bungalow were waist-high and completely embedded in surfaces.
“There was literally nowhere else for the animals to relieve themselves and they had resorted to defecating on the tops of wardrobes and kitchen surfaces. The property was dark, damp and not fit for humans or animals to live in. It felt unreal.”
The owner of the animals pleaded guilty and was sentenced for an offence of causing unnecessary suffering under the Animal Welfare Act. He was handed a lifetime disqualification order on keeping animals, an 18-week prison sentence suspended for 12 months and ordered to pay £400 costs and a £115 victim surcharge.
The house had belonged to the owner’s late mother and initially there had been two cats in the house but over time they had interbred. Sadly, some of the cats were put to sleep on veterinary advice as they were suffering from feline AIDS and a variety of other health problems. Many could not be handled and had no human contact for their whole lives.
The ferret and a number of cats have since been rehomed.