Animal charity RSPCA has spoken out after a report that outlines the extent of the amount of animal abuse revealed that less than eight per cent of people convicted for animal abuse are sent to prison.

In 2016, 744 defendants were convicted in court of offences in cases brought by the RSPCA.

Sadly, the disgusting abuse is also happening on our doorstep with decomposing cats, headless dogs and swans, and burned carcasses of animals being discovered in Burton and South Derbyshire in the last couple of years.

Back in May this year, an Overseal man was sentenced for failing to attend to a horse for several months, which led to the animal, named Storm, dying an "agonising" death.

Simon Nall, 20, pleaded guilty to the offence after Storm's decomposing body was found in a stable which had faeces all over the floor. The court was told that Storm belonged to Nall, and that he was stabled with four other horses - which belonged to his mother and sister - in a field in Valley Road, Overseal.

As well as a lifetime ban on keeping equines, the magistrates imposed an 18-week prison sentence suspended for two years, ordered him to carry out 250 hours of unpaid work, imposed a three-month curfew order and told him to pay costs of £400 and a £115 victim surcharge.

In 2016, 744 defendants were convicted in court of offences in cases brought by the RSPCA

While Julia Nall , 47, and Rachel Nall, 22, both of New Street, Measham, admitted causing unnecessary suffering to four horses - two bay mares named Twinkle and Poppy, a grey gelding named Bugs, and a Shetland mare named Dotty - by failing to explore and address the cause of their poor bodily condition. They also pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to Storm, by failing to explore and address the cause of his poor bodily condition which resulted in his death.

As well as a lifetime disqualification order on keeping horses, both defendants were given an 18-week prison sentence suspended for two years and were ordered to each pay a fine of £500. The four surviving horses have all since recovered and have been rehomed.

RSPCA inspector Laura Bryant, who investigated the case, told the Burton Mail the incident was "very upsetting."

Ms Bryant said: "Storm suffered a great deal as a result of irresponsible ownership. I have never seen a horse in such a bad way before - it is clear that Storm's last few days of his life were agonising. If he'd been attended to, and properly, then this could have been avoided.

"The responsibility of owning an animal does not go away if you turn a blind eye."

These two dogs, formerly known as Keith and Albert were abandoned in Stapenhill. They have since been rehomed

Now animal welfare bosses are campaigning to see tougher punishments for those who commit such heinous crimes.

RSPCA interim chief executive, Michael Ward, said: "The maximum sentence for offences under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 is six months in prison and/or an unlimited fine.

"But the reality is that this rarely happens and while the RSPCA is seeing unbelievably shocking and distressing cases go before the courts, only a tiny proportion of animal abusers actually receive an immediate custodial sentence.

"It is ironic that is some puppy trade cases we have taken to court, the defendants get longer sentences for committing fraud than for the cruelty and suffering they have inflicted on the defenceless dogs.

"In fact, of the 744 defendants brought before the courts last year, only 57 received an immediate jail term and just 15 of those were towards the upper limit.

"RSPCA officers have had to investigate horrendous cases in which dogs have been found buried alive with a nail hammered into their skull, puppies have been kept in damp, dark rooms laying in their own filth and sold to unsuspecting members of the public, horses have been dumped to die on the side of the road and hamsters have been force-fed drugs."

In one case which concluded in April this year, a Crown Court judge handed down the longest sentence the RSPCA has ever seen - 33 months in prison. But while the 38-year-old faced eight animal welfare offences relating to the selling of dogs, it was the 13 fraud offences he pleaded guilty to which saw him handed such a long prison sentence.

But polling by the RSPCA has shown that seven out of 10 people would like to see sentencing for animal welfare offences toughened up and longer jail terms imposed on offenders who commit the worst cruelty.

This shocking burned body of a dog was found in Branston earlier this year

Other shocking cases of cruelty that have left Burton and South Derbyshire residents disgusted in recent months include the discovery of a headless dog, in March last year, a headless swan, which was found on the washlands in May 2017 and the burned carcass of a dog that was found in a Branston field just three months before.

Mr Ward added: "We believe it is important to try to work with owners to help them improve the welfare of their pets and prosecuting people is a last resort.

"While the RSPCA investigated almost 150,000 complaints of cruelty last year, less than 1 per cent of these resulted in a prosecution. However, in some cases, if people refuse to work with us or if the animal’s suffering is simply too severe or extreme, then prosecution is the only real option.

"And we believe the punishment should fit the crime, particularly when it comes to serious, organised animal cruelty such as animal fighting or puppy farming.

"We would like to see the maximum sentences under the Animal Welfare Act increased to five years - bringing us in line with Northern Ireland - so courts have more power and opportunity to impose a sentence they feel reflects the seriousness of the crime and acts as a deterrent to re-offenders or other animal abusers."

To support the RSPCA’s campaign, visit:

Two men jailed for hammering nail into dogs head and burying him alive

Two men were jailed for four months after admitting their part in hammering a nail into a dog’s head before burying him alive.

Magistrates sentenced the men, in March this year, to four months in prison and a lifetime ban on keeping animals. One pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to Scamp by inflicting blunt force trauma and hammering a nail through his skull and causing unnecessary suffering by failing to provide necessary veterinary care and attention for Scamp’s numerous ailments including incontinence, hind limb weakness and disorientation. The second pleaded guilty to aiding or abetting, counseling or procuring the first man to cause unnecessary suffering to Scamp by the infliction of blunt force trauma and the hammering of a nail through his skull.

A couple out walking on October 19 last year found the terrier in woodland after hearing whimpering. They found him buried under a mound of earth and dug him out before discovering a nail sticking out between his eyes. Police were called and Scamp - who had been suffering from an untreated brain tumour - was rushed to vets who were left with no choice but to put him to sleep. The RSPCA were then notified and launched an investigation.

The court heard the men thought they were putting Scamp out of his misery because the owner couldn’t afford to pay a vet.

80 guinea pigs and two dogs kept in "shocking conditions"

A woman who failed to meet the needs of 80 guinea pigs and two dogs which were living in “shocking” conditions in her one-bedroom flat was disqualified from keeping pets for 10 years and has had her sentence upheld at appeal.

She appeared before the Crown Court in January in an appeal against sentence, which was upheld. She previously pleaded guilty to failing to meet the needs of 80 guinea pigs and not guilty to failing to meet the needs of two dogs, both by failing to provide a suitable environment, and was convicted of the latter at trial.

She was sentenced to a 10-year disqualification on keeping animals and a six-month community order - both of which were upheld.

The guinea pigs were living in the lounge and an outside shed. The dogs were in crates in a cupboard recess off the hall, where she admitted in interview they could be confined for up to seven hours a day. All the animals were housed in filthy cramped conditions, without food and many without water. The guinea pigs were housed in baskets, in boxes and on furniture shelves and she admitted she didn’t know how many she had.

All the animals were taken in by the RSPCA and rehomed.