Animal cruelty cases among the 'most extreme' ever seen by RSPCA

West Yorkshire has come second only to Greater London as the animal cruelty hotspot of the country, according to new RSPCA figures.

A Bradford couple were convicted after inspectors found 14 Irish Red Setters in the 'worst conditions ever seen'.

Across Yorkshire, the charity investigated 17,038 complaints of animal cruelty in 2015 - 45 per cent of which were in West Yorkshire.

Despite prosecution levels across the country being down on 2014, the charity said the “level of depravity” seen in some cases last year were among the “most extreme” it had ever known.

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West Yorkshire had the highest number of convictions in the country, 81 last year, compared to 93 in 2014, with North and South Yorkshire also making the top ten for the most successful prosecutions.

One of the red setters, Bridie, after being brought back to full health

Some of the horrific cases include four kittens bludgeoned to death by a Whitby man who fell out with his ex-partner, and a Bradford dog breeder and her husband who kept 14 Irish setters in the “worst conditions ever seen”.

Overall, across England and Wales, there were 143,004 complaints of animal cruelty investigated in 2015, down from 159,831 in 2014, and cases which had to be resolved by way of prosecution also decreased. In total, 796 people were convicted of animal welfare offences in 2015, compared to 1,029 in 2014.

These include the shocking case of Whitby man John Stephen Akrill, who was jailed for 20 weeks at Scarborough Magistrates’ Court last March after admitting brutally killing four kittens in an attempt to upset his former partner.

RSPCA inspector Karen Colman said Akrill had strangled the kittens before hitting them over the head with a hammer to ensure they were dead. The bloody bodies of the eight-week-old animals were found by inspectors and police in a bin at his house

One of the red setters, Bridie, after being brought back to full health

In a second case, Bradford dog breeder Margaret Mazan and her husband Gary were jailed after keeping 14 Irish red setters in the “worst conditions ever seen” by RSPCA inspector Emma Ellis.

Twelve of the dogs were discovered in squalid puppy cages in a garden shed, kept three to a cage, with the front of the shed barricaded shut. They had no room to move, no food, water or bedding.

Inspector Ellis said: “The smell in that shed is one that I will never forget and when I look at the photos now the smell comes straight back to me. When the shed was opened, the smell literally knocked you over, you had to back off.”

The charity also highlight two cases of neglect in South Yorkshire. In the first, a young Cockerpoo was found cowering under a car, matted and suffering from a large open wound on her neck in Wombwell. It’s owner was never traced.

In a separate case, a Rotherham couple were banned from owning pets after their dog was found wandering the street suffering from a condition that had left her completely bald with thickened, scabby and flaking skin.

The RSPCA said more than half of the complaints related to dogs, and almost a quarter were cats - the second most abused pet.

Dermot Murphy, Assistant Director for the RSPCA Inspectorate, said: “People think of dogs as man’s best friend but these statistics tell a different story. They are by far the most abused animal in this country and we investigate more complaints related to them than any other species.”