Published: 00:01, 18 June 2014
Kent's animal cruelty shame has been exposed by new figures revealing the extent of abuse on pets.
More than one person a week was convicted of neglecting animals in the county last year, RSPCA statistics show.
The figure of 65 people sentenced by Kent courts is about 5% up on last year’s 62 defendants – and was behind only London, with 83 people convicted, in the region's league.
Kent also has the sixth highest number of convictions in Britain, with animals often being left to suffer in appalling conditions.
Now an RSPCA inspector has called for tough punishment for animal cruelty offenders.
Speaking at Leybourne Animal Centre in West Malling, RSPCA inspector Caroline Doe said the organisation must have the "support of the courts" to deter criminals.
She said: "It's good that we're getting some good results, but it's heartbreaking to see these cases.
"In some cases, people neglect out of ignorance or other reasons, but there are a lot of cruelty cases that are absolutely unnecessary and people need to be held accountable - otherwise they will keep committing these offences and the animals will suffer.
"We're supposed to be a nation of animal lovers, but it’s very hard for us doing this job to see that.
"We need the support of the courts because if people aren't given strong convictions there is nothing to deter them and tell them 'this is wrong'."
One of the worst cases involving an RSPCA prosecution last year involved Jasper the Jack Russell from Dover.
He was trapped by his malicious owners in a cage for more than half a decade in his own mess and with a muzzle left on.
Found in a emaciated state and covered in sores, Jasper was rescued by officers and re-homed with 78-year-old Pat Beach.
Previous owners Suzanne Bunyard, 42, and her 53-year-old husband Mark admitted six charges of causing unnecessary suffering and were banned from owning any animals for life.
The pair, of Boston Close, Dover, were handed a nine-week prison term – suspended for 12 months – and a further 12-week jail term, suspended for a year and ordered to pay £1,071 in costs in September last year.
They had also kept another Jack Russell, Spike, in their dilapidated house and allowed him to run loose.
Ms Beach said her beloved pooch was still feeling the effects of his trauma when first placed in her care.
She said: "He cowered a lot when I first got him and he didn’t bark, but now he’s fine.
"He didn't like people with walking sticks or a fly swat being used – he must have been hit. He's fine now. It's just other animals that he doesn't like."
The pensioner agrees with Insp Doe that those guilty of animal cruelty should get tough punishments.
She said: "It makes me sick to be honest that anyone could do that to any animal.
"I think they should be punished and I think the people who had Jasper should have been locked up and put in a cage themselves.
"You shouldn't do that to a animal. It's easy to take them to a rescue centre if you don't want them – just don't treat them like it."
A terrier puppy from Northfleet called Penny was an animal that found a happy ending thanks to the hard work of the RSPCA.
The case of twin brothers who punched and kicked a dog to death while high on drugs was another case highlighted by the RSPCA as one of the worst it dealt with in Kent last year.
Liam and Keir Fackrell, 31, brutally killed shar pei dog Ruby outside shops in Kestrel Road, Lordswood.
Liam Fackrell was seen by witnesses to repeatedly punch the dog in the head, kicking it and then dragging it along the ground. Keir Fackrell was also seen dragging the helpless dog along the ground by its lead.
Both were found guilty of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal and were jailed. Liam Fackrell was locked up for 180 days and Keir Fackrell for 90 days. They were both banned from keeping animals indefinitely in September last year.
"There are a lot of cruelty cases that are absolutely unnecessary and people need to be held accountable - otherwise they will keep committing these offences and the animals will suffer..." - RSPCA inspector Caroline Doe
Edward Halligan, the RSPCA inspector who dealt with the case, said: "The RSPCA get to see a lot of bad things in pursuit of better animal welfare, but this was a particularly nasty case of deliberate cruelty.
"The fact that this pair have been given custodial sentences shows how seriously the court has taken this barbaric attack against a dog, an attack so brutal that Ruby was already dead by the time the police arrived on the scene."
Penny was thrown over a garden fence by her owners, landing three metres away and fracturing her leg.
A man who witnessed the incident after hearing the pup whimpering at night took Penny to the vets.
It was there an X-ray revealed that as well as a new injury, she had older healing fractures on two ribs and on her leg that were caused by deliberate violence.
A 34-year-old woman was banned from keeping animals for 10 years – apart from fish – and a 41-year-old man was banned from keeping animals for 10 years – apart from birds.
The pair were also ordered to do 100 hours of unpaid work in May last year.
Penny however found happiness with a new home and was renamed Lizzie due to her arrival with new owners at the time of the Queen's jubilee.
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