Abandoned cats and guinea pigs in dirty cages were among the more than 270 cases of animal cruelty in Bendigo reported to the RSPCA in the last financial year.
The figures, released by the charity on Tuesday, show the City of Greater Bendigo had the 13th highest number of animal cruelty reports in the state of the 79 local government areas.
The RSPCA received 272 concerns about the welfare of animals in greater Bendigo in 2016/2017, or one report for every 406 residents in the area.
More than 150 reports of animals in greater Bendigo with insufficient food, water or shelter were received by the RSPCA, down from 263 in the previous financial year. These figures placed Bendigo with the eighth highest number of these types of reports across the state.
Sixty per cent of reports involved dogs and puppies and one in five complaints included cats and kittens.
Statewide, RSPCA Victoria chief executive Dr Liz Walker said reports about animals not receiving basic care far outnumbered all other offences reported this year.
“It’s disappointing to see that, for the second year in a row, too many Victorian animals were reported to us because of concerns about very basic issues: food, water, shelter and vet care when they’re sick or injured,” she said.
“These kinds of problems are so preventable.”
More than 40 instances of abandoned animals in greater Bendigo were reported to the RSPCA, including one case in Long Gully in March 2017.
Inspectors were called to the property after receiving a report of abandoned cats and a dog, and an indication the owner had been hospitalised.
The RSPCA seized one dog with matted fur and long nails, and three cats. One cat was found dead inside the house.
Two out of the three cats have since been adopted, as has the dog.
Dr Walker said most cases reported to the RSPCA were quickly resolved by inspectors educating owners and reminding them of their legal obligations to care for their animals.
“In some cases, a stronger response is needed: a notice to comply, seizing and taking an animal into protective custody, or – when all else fails – prosecuting,” she said.
The RSPCA laid 383 charges against 90 people across the state during the financial year, with 56 cases still before the courts at the end of June.
Dr Walker said RSPCA Victoria had started working more closely with local councils this year to understand local animal welfare issues, and to put in place tailored, local initiatives to educate owners and better protect animals.
“Whether it’s asking family or friends for support, seeking assistance from animal welfare groups, or surrendering animals to be rehomed, we would strongly encourage owners who aren’t keeping up with the basics to seek help to care for their animals,” she said.
To report animal cruelty in Victoria, call 9224 2222 or visit rspcavic.org/services/inspectorate/report-cruelty/
More information about reporting animal cruelty can be found on the RSPCA Victoria website.
Animal cruelty across central Victoria
The RSPCA might have only received 28 reports of cruelty in the Loddon Shire, but on a per capita basis, the area was one of the worst for animal welfare concerns.
One report for every 268 residents in the Loddon Shire was received by the RSPCA in the past financial year, making it the sixth worst local government area for animal cruelty reports on a per capita basis. Topping the list was the Hepburn Shire, with one report for every 189 residents.
The City of Greater Bendigo, on the other hand, had one report for every 406 residents in the area.
Across the central Victorian region, the area with the second highest reports per capita was the Central Goldfields, closely followed by Campaspe.