Belfast Telegraph

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Three reports of animal cruelty every day for the past five years

By Linda Stewart

Published 16/07/2016

Norman, the greyhound found with his ears cut off
Norman, the greyhound found with his ears cut off
Kitty, the cat burned on the bonfire
Chris and Kathy Wilson with Milo

Police have received an average of three animal cruelty reports every day since 2011.

Almost 6,000 incidents were logged between January 2011 and May this year, with more than a third of cases related to the mistreatment of dogs or cats.

There were 799 cruelty reports last year alone, including cases of animals being attacked with pellet guns, crossbows and other weapons. Despite the high number of incidents, just 161 people were arrested in the same period.

The figures, obtained by UTV, come after the Belfast Telegraph reported on the case of a cat that was treated for burns after it was caught on an Eleventh Night bonfire in Antrim that was set on fire by people who apparently knew the animal was there.

The cat's owners said they had been told that bystanders begged the bonfire builders not to light the fire, but they were ignored.

While the cat's whiskers were burned off and fur all over its body was singed, it is expected to make a full recovery.

Other animals that have recovered despite terrible abuse include greyhound Norman, who was found with his ears cut off so that identification tattoos could not be used to trace his owners. He later found a loving home.

Jack Russell cross Milo, meanwhile, was found by police who suspected he had been fed a cocktail of drugs, including cocaine, by his owner.

He was rehabilitated at the Crosskennan Lane Animal Sanctuary and found a new life with doctors Chris and Kathy Wilson, from Rosetta in Belfast.

The couple first encountered Milo at Assisi Animal Sanctuary, in Newtownards, where he had been sent for rehoming, and immediately became "smitten" with the dog.

While rehabilitation helped turn Milo's life around, he can still be nervous and afraid in front of strange men.

"Chris is the only man he has met so far that he hasn't been afraid of, so we feel that he chose us," Kathy explained. "We think that he's remarkably well-balanced. He's so friendly and loving, but he doesn't like raised voices."

The USPCA said it has seen "terrible, tragic" cases at its Newry animal hospital, including a cat that had been injured with a crossbow by a group of young people.

"These poor, defenceless animals suffered at the hands of young people just basically looking for an extra laugh in the day," development manager Colleen Dowdall added.

"It's certainly not a laugh for the animal, or for the owners of the animal."

USPCA vet Megan Anderson said that staff at the animal hospital had seen quite a few bullet wounds in the past couple of months.

"You just have the same reactions that the owners have - 'how could you do something like that?' - and it's frustrating when you can't get to the bottom of it," she explained.

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