REVEALED: South Yorkshire has one of UK's worst animal cruelty records with more than 4500 cases last year
More than 4500 animal cruelty cases were reported in South Yorkshire last year - one of the worst areas in the country.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals today revealed there were 4538 cases reported in the area in 2017 which was the seventh highest county in the UK.
READ MORE: Entries open for popular Sheffield park 10k raceThe charity also highlighted how there has been hundreds of cases of cruelty against horses with many being 'dumped like rubbish' often by people who cannot afford to keep them.
Christine McNeill, RSPCA’s inspectorate national equine co-ordinator, said: “Last year we took in more horses than we have in any of the past four years (980 nationally), and with our inspectors being called to rescue more and more every week, we are stretched to the limits.
“Up and down the country, horses are being found sick, or dumped liked rubbish, dying or dead. Distressingly, this is common and it’s a huge issue.
"We are constantly receiving calls to our cruelty line - on average 80 per day about horses alone - as well as messages every day on social media from very concerned and upset people asking for our help."
The total number of complaints in South Yorkshire for 2017 were less than in 2016 but slightly higher than the figures for 2015.
There were 424 complaints about cruelty to equines in the area last year, including 261 about horses.
This makes South Yorkshire the 11th highest county for equine cruelty in the UK.
A total of 28 people were convicted locally on animal cruelty charges.
The RSPCA highlighted one case in which a horse had to be put to sleep after being found collapsed at a Barnsley allotment along with nine others in May last year.
The RSPCA said all ten of the horses had inadequate grazing, water, shelter or bedding material and were living in faeces in an enclosure full of hazards.
A court heard in December that the owner had started out with a couple of horses but they bred and he accepted that he could not afford to look after them properly.
He pleaded guilty to four offences under the Animal Welfare Act and was sentenced to three months' prison suspended for 12 months, ordered to do 120 hours of unpaid work, pay Â£600 in costs and a Â£115 victim surcharge. He was also disqualified from keeping equines for life.
RSPCA Inspector Paula Clemence said: “Owning horses is a luxury, not a right, and if you take on responsibility for a horse you must ensure you have the means to do so.
“You must be able to provide food, water, somewhere appropriate for them to live, be able to get the farrier in or get a vet out if they become injured or ill.
“Unfortunately, not only did this person’s horses not have their needs met but some of them suffered, and one of them had to be put to sleep.”
Four of the nine horses were signed over, and the others - including a foal born in RSPCA care - were confiscated as part of the sentence.
One of them, ‘Copper’, has just spent his first week in a new home.
Owner Nicola Foran, who lives in Leeds, said: “Little Copper has settled in just perfect.
“He has a new friend in the next stable called Archie. My daughter Lacy bought Copper a salt lick and him and Archie keep sharing it through the bars in between the stables.
“He’s really enjoying being out in the paddock, we put him in on his own for the first time and he was so excited, then one of the girls put a mare in the next field and he was in his element.
“We’ve been so excited about bringing him home and already love him so much.”
Meanwhile Pretzel, a black middleweight cob mare, is still looking for a home.
Lisa Paulin of the RSPCA Felledge Equine Centre, where she is being cared for, said: “Pretzel has become a fun loving mare who at five years old would love a home where someone can help bring her on and develop her education.
"She’s a forward going pony who will turn her hoof to anything and everything; as long as she’s got something to keep her busy mind occupied then she’s happy.”
Total number of complaints investigated:
2017 - 4538
2015 - 4466
Total number of complaints about cruelty to equines
2017 - 424
2016 - 511
2015 - 424