Dogs are the most persecuted pet, new figures from the RSPCA reveal

Chihuahua set on fire and tortured, pug puppy punched so hard part of her jaw fell out and bull terrier stabbed 11 times and then dumped in a bin.

Man’s best friend is the most persecuted pet in England and Wales – new figures from the RSPCA reveal.

The charity is releasing its annual cruelty statistics today which show that almost 57% of complaints investigated* by the RSPCA in 2015 were about dogs, compared to just below 24% about cats  – the second most abused pet.

We also reveal a shocking catalogue of abuse and neglect towards animals in 2015, with RSPCA inspectors dealing with incidents including:

?       a bull terrier stabbed 11 times and then dumped in a bin to slowly bleed to death (pic below)

?       a pug puppy punched so hard part of her jaw fell out

?       four eight-week-old kittens strangled and bashed over the head with a hammer.

?       a Chihuahua cross stolen, set on fire, and punched and attacked until his neck broke. He was then dumped at a rubbish tip to die.

?       A terrier found wandering South Yorkshire streets with skin condition so bad it had left her scabby and bald (pic above)

Dermot Murphy, Assistant Director for the 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.

“The stories we are telling today show a snapshot of the horrific level of cruelty we have seen in the last year, which have to be some the most extreme cases I have ever heard of.

“Particularly shocking for me was the story of the little Chihuahua cross who was subjected to unimaginable torture for nearly 48 hours, including being set on fire and having his neck broken. It is harrowing to think of the amount of suffering caused to this dog.”

This year’s RSPCA cruelty statistics show that in 2015 there were:

?       81,146 investigations into complaints of cruelty towards dogs

?       33,844 into cats and 15,965 into equines

?       overall there were 143,004 complaints investigated into animal cruelty in 2015, slightly down on 159,831 in 2014

?       796 people convicted of animal welfare offences, compared to 1,029 in 2014

The highest number of complaints investigated were in Greater London (11,050), followed by West Yorkshire (7,694) and then Greater Manchester (7,333).***

The number of owners who were offered and accepted animal welfare advice is showing a general increase, with 81,475 accepting advice in 2015 compared to approximately 78,000 in 2007.

Dermot added: “It is encouraging that some of the figures are down on last year and that the numbers of complaints being dealt with by education and advice are going up, as we would always much rather improve animal welfare by giving advice to owners if at all possible.

“Yet even if some of the overall numbers are lower, the level of depravity we have seen in 2015 cases are up there with some of the most extreme we have ever known.”

If you would like to give an animal like one of those featured in our cruelty campaign a second chance of happiness, and rehome a rescue dog, please visit:

Complaints investigated broken broken down by species

Animal Type

Number of cruelty investigations


81,146 (56.7%)


33,844 (23.6%)


15,965 (11%)

Exotic pets

4,574 (3.1%)


3,982 (2.7%)

Small mammals

2,301 (1.6%)

Aquarium Fish

895 (0.6%)

Caged Birds

297 (0.2%)




Cruellest 10 counties



No. of complaints investigated

1. Greater London


2. West Yorkshire


3. Greater Manchester


4. West Midlands


5. Kent


6. Lancashire


7. Essex


8. South Yorkshire


9. Merseyside


10. Lincolnshire



Notes to editors

?       The RSPCA’s Prosecutions Annual Report can be found here:

?       *Please note that complaints investigated can have any number of outcomes including prosecution and welfare advice, but may also include those where, upon looking into them, there was not sufficient evidence to take further action, or where there was no cause for concern.

?       National case studies are available on request. Images can be downloaded from here:

?       National statistics, broken down by county, can be downloaded from

?       To arrange interviews and filming with surviving animals please email or call 0300 123 0244. Please be aware we may be very busy but will always respond to your enquiry as soon as possible.

?       Regional press releases, case studies and statistics are also available from your regional press officer.