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Animal cruelty set to rise this festive season after 1159 reports in Dorset last December

RSPCA inspectors are bracing themselves for an annual festive spike in reports of cruelty to animals in Dorset.

Between December 1 and 31 2016, the charity received 1,159 calls from Dorset residents reporting sightings of sick, neglected or abused animals.

On Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and boxing day, 21 calls were received county-wide.

In Bournemouth alone, 288 calls were made reporting abuse.

Bosses at the RSPCA have revealed the figures are they launch their 'kindness at Christmas' campaign.

They say they are expecting to receive 2,000 calls a day from across the UK during December.

Callers in Dorset reported everything from poorly, unwanted pets dumped on the streets to wildlife which had been cruelly treated.

Simon Osborne, superintendent of the RSPCA, said staff are "preparing to see heartbreaking cruelty and neglect this festive season".

“It’s a sad fact that every day at work throughout the year can be tough for our inspectors and animal welfare and collection officers, but winter really does come with its own challenges and issues," he said.

“During the festive season alone last year, we rescued more than 25,000 animals nationally, many of whom had been cruelly abandoned, injured or abused.

"But we also saw so many acts of kindness by animal lovers, from the passer-by who rescued a shivering and sick puppy days before Christmas, to those who reported suffering animals to our cruelty hotline or volunteers caring for animals in our centres and branches."

As reported in the Daily Echo, a woman has been arrested after scores of dead animals were reportedly found at her Boscombe flat.

Police were called to Trafalgar House in Hamilton Road by RSPCA inspectors on Thursday, November 16.

Neighbours later said animals including dogs and rabbits had been found in cages stacked "from the floor to the ceiling".

A 27-year-old woman has been arrested on suspicion of causing unnecessary cruelty to a protected animal and was released under investigation.

To support the RSPCA, visit rspca.org.uk/winterappeal

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