Lancashire has been shamed as one of the worst areas in the country in a new league table of animal cruelty.
The county comes a shameful sixth highest in the country, out of 47 areas, with 5,252 complaints investigated by the charity during 2014.
More than 700 of those involved claims of deliberate and often violent cruelty – a 23 per cent increase on the numbers recorded in 2013.
“Most of the complaints we receive involve animals being neglected or not receiving the right care,” said the RSPCA’s chief vet James Yeates.
“However it is shocking that in 2014 people are still being deliberately cruel in what can be disturbingly inventive ways.”
The report details a harrowing catalogue of cases where even the most experienced animal welfare inspectors have been shocked by the level of sadistic behaviour shown.
One Lancashire case involved a cat which was lying in a road after being hit by a car and a passer-by “kicked it like a football several times.” The cat later died and its attacker was jailed for 18 weeks.
Earlier this month The Gazette reported how a dog owner admitted deliberately letting her pet off its lead to chase and kill a tiny kitten.
Stephanie Curwen, 24, took her dog, Duke, off its lead so that it could attack Reggie, a black Bengal kitten.
The six-month-old kitten died from a single bite wound, magistrates in Blackpool were told.
Curwen, of Walter Avenue, St Annes, and formerly of Central Drive, Blackpool, admitted causing suffering to the cat by allowing her dog to attack and kill it.
She also admitted causing an animal fight to take place and will return to court on April 30.
The RSPCA’s shocking figures show eight of the top 10 counties in the cruelty league table for England and Wales are in the north, according to the RSPCA’s annual report out today.
Across England and Wales a total of 991 people were convicted of animal cruelty offences in 2014 – a fall of more than 300 on the previous year.
Lancashire courts convicted 44 people on 85 offences last year compared with 34 on 69 offences in 2013.