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Lara with an RSPCA officer

Lara with an RSPCA officer

Vets Play Critical Role In Helping RSPCA Cancel Out Cruelty

11 months ago

7th July, 2023 20h46


Vets play a critical role in helping to Cancel Out Cruelty towards animals - and heartbreaking figures released by the RSPCA have shown that reports of animals being beaten increased by 22% last year, with incidents peaking during the summer months.

Last year, the RSPCA received 9,658 reports of animals being beaten - 26 every day.

As a result, the animal charity is bracing for one of its busiest summers this year as it expects another summer of suffering, with more people reporting cruelty to animals from July to September.

The charity has launched its Cancel Out Cruelty campaign, to raise funds to help its frontline rescue teams continue to save animals from cruelty and abuse and to raise awareness about how to stop cruelty to animals for good.

Vanessa Howie, head vet of companion animals at the RSPCA, said: “We are so grateful to vets who report concerns of animal cruelty and neglect to us, and their role in fighting animal cruelty is really appreciated.

“Vets are absolutely critical to help us Cancel Out Cruelty. They are often on the frontline in spotting signs of abuse and many thousands of animals have been rescued from lives of violence and suffering thanks to veterinary staff who have raised the alarm. 

“We would like to see cruelty reduced by at least 50% by 2030 but we can only do that with the support of the vet profession."

Figures released by the RSPCA as part of the campaign shows:

In 2022 the charity saw a 22% increase in reports of beatings (9,658 in 2022, compared to 7,857 in 2021)

The number of beatings reported to the RSPCA in 2022 peaked in August, when 1,081 reports were received - a staggering 35 a day

The number of animals killed in ‘suspicious circumstances’ increased in 2022 by 15% from by 2021 (891 in 2022, compared to 775 in 2021)

77% of all cruelty complaints reported to the charity 2022 were beatings 

As part of the campaign, the RSPCA is urging veterinary practices to help cancel out cruelty by reporting concerns of animal cruelty so the charity can investigate.

Vanessa added: “We have had many conversations on this topic with vets, including at BVA Live in Birmingham in May, and understand there is concern and confusion about whether or not vets can report cruelty to us due to client confidentiality and data protection regulations.

“Reassuringly, the RCVS’s supporting guidance to the Code of Professional Conduct provides clear advice and makes it clear that reporting information to the relevant authorities without client consent is permitted if animal welfare or the public interest is compromised. The RSPCA is the principal investigator and prosecutor of animal welfare offences in England and Wales and the RCVS considers the RSPCA - and the Scottish SPCA in Scotland - to be an appropriate authority.

“We’d like to reassure vets that GDPR shouldn’t be a barrier to the sharing of appropriate information in order to investigate a potential animal welfare offence.”

The RSPCA has a dedicated Vetline phone number - 0300 123 8022 - for veterinary professionals to call if they suspect cruelty or neglect.

CASE STUDY: Puppy had ‘body shattered’ after being beaten

Jack Russell puppy Lara, pictured top, who was just 16 weeks old when she was found with a bloodied head trauma and a catalogue of broken bones - including fractures to her skull, ribs, cheekbones and jaw.

RSPCA inspector Nicola Johnson, who investigated Lara’s case, said: “I had never seen an animal with so many broken bones. I did not know where to touch Lara that wouldn’t hurt her so I just gave her nose a little stroke. She just looked so sad and her spirit appeared broken.” 

Nicola took Lara for further emergency treatment at the RSPCA’s Newbrook Animal Hospital in Birmingham where her fractured leg was repaired with surgical implant and metal pins to hold the bone in place until it was healed. She was given pain relief and was confined to cage rest for 20 days to help her shattered body recover.

She was rehabilitated at  RSPCA Cotswold Dogs and Cats Home and was fostered by receptionist Amy Day, who said: “Nothing could prepare me for how upsetting it was to see her for the first time. I just saw a clearly terrified, shut down, and broken little girl, who would cower if anyone approached her. 

“My heart instantly shattered when I saw her and how her eyes looked filled with fear. With every small movement she made, she would wince and cower away. It was thoroughly heartbreaking.”

Happily, Lara, pictured above, has made a full recovery and in March this year, she was adopted by a loving family.

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