Convictions involving horses up by an astonishing 154 per cent


Prosecution annual report cover 2013 © RSPCAWe have released our annual rescue and cruelty figures which show that we investigated almost 3,000 more complaints than in 2012. 

The figures are detailed in our Prosecutions Annual Report, released today, which also contains a shocking catalogue of cruelty including the stories of Rocky the dog who was shot six times and left to die in a ditch; and Florence the shih-tzu whose paws fell off after she was neglected.

There were 153,770 complaints of cruelty investigated by our inspectors in 2013 – an increase from 150,833 in 2012.

Whilst fewer people were convicted of animal cruelty or neglect in 2013 compared to 2012, an incredible 585 of the total convictions involved equines (horses, donkeys and ponies). This is up from 500 in 2012 and a shocking 154 per cent increase from 2011’s 230.


Highlighting the equine crisis

This shows that the equine crisis highlighted by us two years ago has continued to escalate, with the numbers of horses rescued in 2013 increasing by almost half compared to 2012.

David Bowles, head of external affairs at the RSPCA, said:

“Whilst we are heartened that the numbers of people convicted of cruelty have decreased, the fact that we are investigating more and more complaints shows that there is still a culture of cruelty out there.

“Nothing illustrates this like the massive increase in equine-related convictions.  This is due mainly to irresponsible owners who have let their animals breed indiscriminately, together with an economic downturn which has seen feed prices go up and horses going for just a few pounds at market.  As a result, horses have been left to suffer without food and vet treatment.”

How you can help equines

Join us on calling on the Westminster Government to respond to the rising horse crisis.


Illustrating stories of despair and suffering

The annual report contains a disturbing illustration of cases investigated by us in 2013 including:

  • dogs being set on wild animals in a series of attacks
  • a shar pei named Ruby who was kicked, punched and dragged along a pavement before she died
  • a young mare found in a terrible emaciated condition with her dead foal lying nearby.

But in amongst the stories of despair and suffering, there were moments of hope. They include:

  • Rocky, a cross breed dog who miraculously survived after he was shot in the head five times, hit with a shovel and left to die in a ditch
  • shih-tzu Florence, who was so badly neglected her paws dropped off but now has a new life with a loving owner
  • Molly, a piebald filly, who was emaciated and collapsed when she was found but, after intensive care at a vet hospital and an  RSPCA equine centre, went on to win reserve champion in the Rescue Horse of the Year Championship at Equifest 2013.


Dogs still suffering

The figures show that dogs were still the animal most likely to be involved in cruelty cases, with 2,505 related convictions, although encouragingly this was slightly down on 2012 (2,568).

We’ve also emerged as the country’s biggest dog rescuer, collecting more than 17,500 dogs in 2013.

David added:

“Although there have been fewer convictions relating to dogs, we are still rescuing more and more and the fact is that the RSPCA takes in some of the most needy dogs – we don’t pick and choose by breed or by the desperate lives that they’ve lived before they came to us.

“I think we should be proud that, despite taking in some very damaged animals, we rehomed an incredible 55,323 animals in 2013.”

Find out how you can rehome a rescued animal.


Get involved in RSPCA Week

#RSPCAWeek runs from 14 to 22 June 2014 and is an annual fundraising and awareness drive.

To donate please go to or text HELP to 78866 to donate £3.
(texts cost £3 plus standard network rate).

Alternatively you can donate by calling 0300 123 8181.

As well as donating money, you can help us by collecting money or organising an event – visit RSPCA Week where you can download a fundraising pack, volunteer for local collections, join our animal welfare campaign and find out about rehoming an animal.