Prosecutions for animal cruelty have more than halved in the past twelve months in Bedfordshire, according to the RSPCA.
The charity’s latest figures show 10 people were convicted in 2013 compared with 22 the year before. Nationally, there were 1,371 people convicted, down from 1,552.
The figures were released in the charity’s Prosecutions Annual Report, which also shows nationally the charity received more calls to its cruelty line in 2013 than ever and investigated almost 3,000 more complaints than in 2012.
Among the heart-rending cases officers have to deal with on a daily basis, Bedfordshire can boast a success story.
In February 2012, a six-month old pony was found collapsed in a field in Kempston, with the ground around her worn down through her failed attempts to stand up. Despite having a thick coat, her hip bones and spine were clearly prominent.
RSPCA Inspector Polly Underwood called a vet and they put the pony, who they named Molly, into a sitting position where she could eat some hay which was offered.
The police then seized Molly and, with the help of Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue, transported her to a specialist vet for intensive treatment.
Molly’s condition improved and in August last year she won Equifest Reserve Champion resuce horse at the UK’s largest horse show. She now lives happily in Essex.
The 51-year-old man responsible for Molly was found guilty of three offences of causing suffering to Molly at Bedford Magistrates’ court in his absence but has never appeared for sentencing.
There is a warrant out for his arrest.
Regional RSPCA superintendent Paul Stilgoe said: “It is heartening there has not been a rise in the number of defendants convicted this year, but we are still seeing far too many horrendous cases of cruelty.
“It is really difficult to say what drives people to act in such utterly pointless cruel ways, and neglect their animals to such an extent.
“In some cases people just don’t know what an animal needs or they get into financial difficulties, while others find organised cruelty, or deliberate violence towards an animal acceptable.”
The RSPCA will try to re-educate people where possible but in some cases prosecution is the only way to stop their cruelty.
For more information, go to www.rspca.org.uk