WATCH: Animal cruelty convictions nearly double in North Yorkshire

WATCH: Animal cruelty convictions nearly double in North Yorkshire

Published at 7:17am 29th March 2017. (Updated at 1:38pm 29th March 2017)

The number of people convicted of animal cruelty in North Yorkshire nearly doubled last year to 50.

The county now sits second only to neighbouring West Yorkshire in a table of the most convictions in 2016, at 115 in total.

The number of convictions is higher than the number of people convicted, as one person may be convicted of more than one offence.

Annual cruelty statistics released by the RSPCA show that inspectors investigated 3,299 complaints across the county, which is up from 3001 in 2015.

Case study:

'Baby' the bulldog was filmed on a mobile phone being repeatedly thrown down a flight of stairs, stamped on and headbutted in North Yorkshire.

Two men from Redcar were disqualified from keeping animals for life and given suspended prison sentences after being prosecuted by the RSPCA.

The case, which centred around the extremely distressing footage, sent shockwaves through the community when the defendants appeared in court last March.

Sadly, Baby was put to sleep a few months after the incident - long before the RSPCA knew anything about her and what she went through.

WARNING: Video contains distressing footage

Dermot Murphy, Assistant Director of the RSPCA Inspectorate, said: "It never fails to shock me when I look back on the extreme instances of animal cruelty the RSPCA has been called upon to investigate.

"It continues to outrage and sadden me that people can be capable of such deliberate brutality towards animals, but equally it drives me on to ensure that perpetrators of animal cruelty are put before the courts.

"I believe that the figures from last year show that we're not becoming crueler, but that people are simply less willing to stand by and do nothing if they think an animal is suffering.

"In the North Yorkshire case involving Baby the bulldog, an SD card was found on the floor of a supermarket and handed into police by someone who recognised the men on it.

"People are increasingly likely to share images or footage on their social media accounts of animals they believe are not being cared for properly, while many will see material their friends have shared and then contact us about them.

"Either way though, our officers are under increased pressure having to respond to more calls to our 24-hour cruelty hotline - these were up by more than 3% - and more complaints. It is thanks to their dedication, as well as RSPCA staff and volunteers across England and Wales, that we are able to transform the lives of tens of thousands of animals each year."

The latest RSPCA statistics feature in the charity's Prosecutions Annual Report 2016 and have been released nearly 10 years after the Animal Welfare Act was introduced in England and Wales, making it possible for the RSPCA to intervene earlier and prevent an animal suffering.