The RSPCA has released new figures which show that between 2016 and 2020, 63,881 incidents of intentional harm involving dogs were reported to the charity's cruelty line: 34 a day or more than one every hour across England and Wales. 

The figures, published as part of the RSPCA's Cancel Out Cruelty campaign, showed that the UK's 12 million dogs are over four times more likely to be the victims of intentional harm compared to cats, about which there were 14,825 incident reports.

There were also 3,226 incidents of deliberate harm to horses and 811 to rabbits. 

RSPCA dog welfare expert Dr Samantha Gaines said: “We say we’re a nation of animal-lovers and that dogs are man’s best friend. And yet, every year, we see many dogs coming into our care bearing the physical and mental scars that were inflicted at the hands of the very people who were meant to keep them safe and love them unconditionally.

"Some of the cases I’ve seen have left me in tears and still stay with me today. Every time my own RSPCA rescue dog, Flo, comes to curl up beside me on the sofa I wonder what she suffered at the hands of people before she was found wandering the streets of London with a badly broken leg. Did someone do that to her deliberately? It doesn’t bear thinking about.

"But, tragically, that’s the reality for so many dogs. We’ve seen some of the most unimaginable cruelty inflicted on these gentle, sweet creatures. We’ve seen them beaten, drowned, set on fire, and poisoned. Our officers have been able to save some of them; getting to them just in time and finding them collapsed, bloodied, and hopeless. Others have died at the hands of their tormentors, but none should experience such cruelty.”

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