more than 400 animal cruelty convictions.
Byline: TYLER MEARS & CLAIRE MILLER firstname.lastname@example.org
THERE have been more than 400 convictions for animal cruelty over the past five years in Wales - most of which were down to causing unnecessary suffering to animals.
Figures obtained from the Ministry of Justice have revealed that between April 2010 and April 2014 there were 424 convictions under the Animal Welfare Act across the country.
Some 318 of these convictions were for causing unnecessary suffering to an animal.
The Animal Welfare Act came into force in England and Wales in 2007 and places a legal obligation on owners and keepers of animals to care for them properly.
The Act was the first review of pet law in 94 years. It replaced the Protection of Animals Act, first passed in 1911, and is designed to prevent outright cruelty to animals. Under the Act those responsible for animals need to ensure they have a suitable environment and diet, and that it is protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease.
Across England and Wales as a whole, convictions under the Animal Welfare Act have remained fairly consistent, with 1,448 convictions in 2011/12, 1,456 in 2012/13 and 1,411 in 2013/14.
The most common basis for conviction across the two counties is causing unnecessary suffering to an animal, with 4,557 convictions since April 2010.
The second most common is failing to ensure an animal's welfare needs are met, with 1,303 convictions across England and Wales over the five-year period.
There have also been 346 convictions for breaching a disqualification for keeping animals, which is usually handed down following a previous conviction for animal cruelty, as well as 47 convictions for being involved in animal fights.
All Creatures Great and Small is an animal sanctuary based in southeast Wales which operates a programme of rehabilitation and rehoming of injured, abused, unwanted and orphaned animals.
As well as providing veterinary care, they also campaign for a better quality of life for all animals and do what they can to help them avoid any pain or unnecessary suffering.
Annette Hale, the assistant animal welfare manager at the charity in Cwmbran, said she thinks the figures show that more needs to be done to protect animals in Wales.
She said: "We've seen cats who have been abandoned in bins or left in boxes at the sides of motorways. We've also seen terrible cases of dog neglect and ignorance, with some of them coming in too scared to eat or be stroked.
"I think the protection of animals can be more prolific in Wales. I think certain issues need to be addressed, such as the culture of dog fighting, badger baiting and puppy farming.
"All of these things still go on under the radar, especially dog fighting. Around one Staffordshire bull terrier is put to sleep every hour because of things like this."
| To report a case of animal cruelty call the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999 or report it online at www.rspca.org.uk/utilities/contactus/reportcruelty.