Preston’s only rescue centre is on the verge of closure as Britain battles a growing animal cruelty crisis.
The RSPCA branch at Ribbleton is “clinging on with its fingertips” with losses of around £5,000 a month.
“As things stand we have four months left and then that’s it,” said trustee John Wareing.
“If we don’t get any more help from public donations then we will be forced to close down at a time when cases of cruelty and neglect are shooting up.”
Alarming new figures published today show convictions rose by 34 per cent in England and Wales in 2012. Animals rescued by the RSPCA increased from 119,126 to 130,695.
Mr Wareing said:“Our reputation as a nation of animal lovers is fast disappearing. If Preston closes, where will these poor cats and dogs go?
“We rely totally on donations.”
Today’s shocking statistics, released during RSPCA Week, show animal welfare convictions relating to small mammals like rabbits and hamsters rose from 97 to 354 in 2012, an increase of more than 260 per cent.
Convictions in cases involving farm animals went up 122.7 per cent and there was a 117.4 per cent rise in cases involving horses, ponies and donkeys.
The number of defendants convicted rose from 1,341 in 2011 to 1,552 in 2012. And the increase in animals rescued was almost 10 per cent on the previous 12 months.
RSPCA national chief executive Gavin Grant said: “For us prosecution is always the last resort. Our inspectors investigated 150,833 suspected cruelty cases and issued 78,090 advice notices last year. However, if there is evidence of a crime and serious animal abuse then we will take legal action.”
One case study from Lancashire, highlighted in the RSPCA report, involved an elderly German Shepherd dog called Shadow which inspectors found was struggling to walk through neglect, had an infection in one of his paws, both ears and on his skin. He was also suffering from a loss of bladder function and cystitis. The dog had to be put down. “It was in a pitiful state,” said Inspector Sarah Hayland. “He was an elderly dog, but that isn’t an excuse. He should have seen a vet.”
A mother and her 31-year-old son from Morecambe were both fined £150, ordered to pay £100 costs each and banned from keeping dogs for five years.
In Preston John Wareing said: “It costs us £240,000 a year, or about £20,000 a month, to run our centre. We fall short of that by about £5,000 every month. Our bank balance was so low in January that we went public that we had only two months of funding left. The publicity brought in some much-needed donations and now we probably have about four months money. After that we will have to close.
For donations to the shelter in Longridge Road, Ribbleton, make cheques payable to Preston and District RSPCA Animal Centre or call in person.