Animal welfare campaigners today said more needs to be done to secure convictions for neglect.
It comes after the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) announced convictions for neglect and cruelty in Lancashire were down in 2013 compared to those in 2012.
Across the county the number of convictions was 69 compared to 159 the previous year.
But Mandy Leigh, from Easterleigh Animal Sanctuary, on Queensway, St Annes, does not believe fewer convictions are necessarily a sign that less cruelty and neglect is taking place.
She said: “The amount of animals we’ve seen leads me to believe it hasn’t got any less.
“You’ve got to police animal neglect but it’s so hard to police.
“There’s just a lack of control over it and I wish I knew the answer.”
Examples of convictions for animal cruelty in 2013 include Kevin Keane, 60, of Caunce Street, who was banned from keeping animals after admitting causing unnecessary cruelty to two cats which lost part of their tails.
In another RSPCA prosecution, Sabrina Willey, 35, and Phillip Gee, 44, of Loftos Avenue, South Shore, were banned after trying to keep 11 horses while on state benefits.
The horses were not being provided with a suitable environment in which to live, and six of them were caused to suffer through poor bodily condition and weight loss.
And Sharon Gregory, 55, of Ribble Road, Blackpool, was also prosecuted by the RSPCA after dumping five young cats outside the Easterleigh in a terrible state – two had an eye missing.
However, Blackpool-based RSPCA Inspector Mandi Taylor, is encouraged by the reduction in convictions – and claims it signals people are listening to the organisation’s advice on taking care of their pets.
She said: “Blackpool specifically has a high level of complaints and a high level of cases that go to court.
“There’s a lot of underprivileged areas, especially with the economic climate at the minute, and that can lead to people not taking their animals to the vet, so it’s not necessarily deliberate cruelty.”
However, she added: “We don’t want to take animals off people we don’t want to take people to court.
“People do accept our advice because we’re only trying to help them.”