The Scottish SPCA’s Ayrshire and South West Scotland Animal Rescue and Rehoming Centre at Mainholm, Ayr, cared for 342 defenceless animals in 2011, a staggering 40% more than in 2010.
Nationally, Scotland’s animal welfare charity saw the number of animals in its care leap from 12,600 to 13,437, while calls to its helpline remained extremely high at 180,556, just under 500 a day.
The Scottish SPCA’s inspectors and animal rescue officers attended almost 1,000 incidents every week.
Chief Superintendent Mike Flynn said, “The 50,039 incidents we dealt with, which included investigations, rescues, abandonments and providing assistance, and the 13,437 animals we cared for was staggering and put a massive strain on our resources.
“It’s hard to be sure if cruelty itself is increasing as we also have to consider that our profile has never been higher and more people than ever before are aware of how we can help.
“What we can say is sheer volume is far from our only concern. While the majority of cases we investigate are the result of ignorance rather than outright cruelty, last year sadly demonstrated once again that there is no limit to how far some people will go to abuse animals.
“Horrific cases included a dog that was dumped in a garden in Edinburgh after his owner let him starve to death, three kittens tied up in a plastic bag and thrown off a bridge in the Borders and a family of swans who suffered multiple injuries after an airgun attack in West Lothian.
“We also rescued lots of small animals such as rabbits and guinea pigs who had been dumped outdoors like rubbish, many in extremely poor health.
“We are very thankful for the support we receive and we believe Scotland is still largely a nation of animal lovers. It is clear though that cruelty to animals is still a serious issue in this country.”
Scottish SPCA investigations last year resulted in 46 people being banned from keeping animals, 12 for life, which is seven more than the previous year. Four people were jailed, compared to one in 2010, and fines totalled more than £25,000.
“We are pleased the number of life bans being issued has increased as this is the most effective way of preventing animals from suffering at the hands of people who have demonstrated they are not fit to be owners,” said CS Flynn.
“Life bans in particular also send a strong signal that owning and animal is a privilege and not a right.
“The courts may also see fit to impose custodial sentences and it was only right that the Reid brothers of Aberdeen were jailed last year for dog fighting.
“David and Colin Reid became the first people to be convicted of animal fighting under Section 23 of the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act following our investigation and their punishment serves as a warning to anyone else involved in such bloodthirsty and barbaric activities.”
CS Flynn said the Scottish SPCA is continuing to invest in both its frontline and in education in particular.
“Last year we opened our new animal rescue and rehoming centre in Aberdeenshire and we’re close to completing our National Wildlife Rescue Centre in Clackmannanshire,” he said.
“These are both major developments and will help ensure we are able to meet the ever-increasing demands we face.
“Prevention itself is also at the heart of our work and we have been delighted with the success of our free education programme which reached more than 60% of primary schools and over 160,000 children in 2011, including 10, 768 in Ayrshire.
“It is vital that we continue to encourage children to treat animals with the care and respect they deserve and we are confident we’ll see the benefits in the years to come.
“We will continue to meet the challenges 2012 brings and with the support of the Scottish public we will do all we can for every abused, abandoned, sick and injured animals in need of our help.”