Pastor’s Animal Cruelty Trial Draws A Crowd

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The misdemeanor trial of a pastor charged with animal cruelty in the death of a cat drew a crowd of 25 onlookers Monday, overshadowing the Bastrop County commissioners meeting next door.

The defendant, 56-year-old Rick Bartlett, the former pastor of Bastrop Christian Church, was the chaplain for the Bastrop Police Department at the time the cat died. The crowd in the courtroom

Rick Bartlett

included Sarah and Eddie Bellowners of Moody, the dead cat — who are suing Bartlett for damages, and Sheila Smith who heads Shadow Cats, a Central Texas nonprofit cat rescue.

Bartlett, who had complained of strays in his neighborhood, trapped the cat and took it to the police department Jan. 17, 2012. Animal control officer Susan Keys pointed out that the cat had tags with the address and phone number for its owners, and offered to return it to them, an arrest affidavit says.

But Bartlett convinced Keys to allow him to return the cat. According to the affidavit, after Bartlett drove away Moody either fell or jumped out of the cage because the cage door had been left open.

Moody was found, badly injured, under the tall bridge over the Colorado River near downtown. Prosecutors allege Bartlett, who last had custody of Moody, was careless and charged him with animal cruelty, a Class A misdemeanor.

Bartlett had nothing to do with the cat’s death, his attorney said. A five-man, one-woman jury is deciding the case this week.

Keys, who no longer works with animal control, was one of the first witnesses. She testified that while she has no personal knowledge of how the cat ended up on a walking path in the park with serious injuries, she had last seen it with Bartlett, and she became suspicious of his story when questioning him two days later.

A former Bastrop pastor is on trial for animal cruelty in connection with the death of Moody, the cat.

“I trusted him to do that,” said Keys of allowing Bartlett to return the cat to its owners. Keys later went to the park in response to an injured animal call, and took the cat to a veterinarian’s office, where it died.

Keys testified she called Bartlett on Jan. 19 to ask if he knew what happened. “I asked him if he let the cat out of the trap. He said, ‘no.’ He said he went back to the church and it was ‘just gone.’

Keys said she turned the case over to police. “I became suspicious about him being honest,” she said. Under questioning by county prosecutor James Rhodes, Keys also said she learned that Bartlett changed his story when talking to police. “I did hear that,” she said. Defense attorney Chris Dillon objected to the statement as hearsay.

In his opening statement to the jury, Dillon said the cat was fine when Bartlett last saw it. “Rick came back to the church and parked in the shade to protect the cat. At about 1 p.m., he let the cat out of the cage. Three-and-a-half hours later the cat was found,” he said.

Testimony resumes Thursday morning. Dillon said Monday he had not decided whether Bartlett will take the stand.

News Link:http://www.mystatesman.com/news/news/pastors-animal-cruelty-trial-draws-a-crowd/nXqXQ/?icmp=statesman_internallink_textlink_apr2013_statesmanstubtomystatesman_launch

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Rhino: No Horn Of Plenty

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“This is a long post, but if you are interested in Rhino, this is a must read & well worth the time needed to read it!!”

More rhinos will be killed in the next two years than will be born, so those charged with saving the endangered animal are considering radical and previously unimaginable solutions.

Twenty-four-hour watch: An anti-poaching team guards a de-horned northern white rhinoceros in Kenya in 2011. Photo: Brent Stirton

The battle to save the African rhinoceros has all the ingredients for a Hollywood thriller. There are armed baddies with good guys in hot pursuit. There is a hint of glamour. And the drama is played out against a backdrop of a beautiful, bloodstained landscape.

It is a story that begins, perhaps improbably, in Vietnam soon after the turn of the 21st century. A Vietnamese official of some influence, so the story goes, lets it be known that he, or perhaps it is his wife (for the sake of the story it matters little), has been cured of cancer. The miracle cure? Rhino horn powder.

With disconcerting speed, the story shifts to southern Africa, where a series of gunshots ring out across the African plains. This is followed by the hacking sound of machetes – it takes little time to dehorn a rhino because its horn consists not of bone but of keratin fibres with the density of tightly compressed hair or fingernails.

The getaway begins, armed rangers give chase. Once the horn leaves the flimsy protection of the national park or game reserve, where its former owner lies bleeding to death, it may never be found.

White Rhinoceros with a calf at Lake Nakuru national Park in Kenya. Photo: Martin Harvey/WWF

Its new owners never brought to justice. Sometimes they are caught. Sometimes they get away. Either way, another rhino is dead in a war that the bad guys seem to be winning.

The story shifts again, back to Vietnam where even the prime minister is rumoured to have survived a life-threatening illness after ingesting rhino horn. More than a cure for the country’s rich and powerful, however, rhino horn has by now crossed into the mainstream. Young Vietnamese mothers have taken to keeping at hand a supply of rhino horn to treat high fevers and other childhood ailments.

It is also the drug of choice for minor complaints associated more with the affluent lifestyle to which increasing numbers of Vietnamese have access; rhino horn has become a cure-all pick-me-up, a tonic, an elixir for hangovers.

With this new popularity has come the essential paraphernalia common to lifestyle drugs the world over, including bowls with specially designed serrated edges for grinding rhino horn into powder. In a short space of time, rhino horn has become the latest must-have accessory for the nouveau riche.

The sudden spike in Vietnamese demand, the miraculous fame of a saved official or his wife, and rhino horn’s emergence as a symbol of status all came at a time when legal stockpiles of rhino horn were at an all-time low. Demand and supply. This is the irrefutable law of economics.

Or, as one expert in the illegal trade in rhino horn put it: ”It was a perfect storm of deadly consumption.”

The rhinoceros is one of the oldest creatures on earth, one of just two survivors – the other is the elephant – of the megaherbivores that once counted dinosaurs among their number. Scientists believe rhinos have changed little in 40 million years.

The rhino’s unmistakable echo of the prehistoric and the mystery that surrounds such ancient creatures – this is the animal that Marco Polo mistook for a unicorn, describing it as having the feet of an elephant, the head of a wild boar and hair like a buffalo – have always been its nemesis.

As early as the first century AD, Greek traders travelled to the east, where the rhino horn powder they carried was prized as an aphrodisiac. But the rhino survived and, by the beginning of the 20th century, rhino numbers ran into the hundreds of thousands.

They were certainly plentiful in 1915 when the Roosevelts travelled to Africa to hunt. Kermit, the son, observed a rhinoceros ”standing there in the middle of the African plain, deep in prehistoric thought”, to which Theodore the father is quoted as replying: ”Indeed, the rhinoceros does seem like a survival from the elder world that has vanished.”

The Roosevelts then proceeded to shoot them.

Rhinos are epic creatures, gunmetal grey and the second-largest land animal on earth. Up to five metres long and weighing as much as 2700 kilograms, the white rhino, the largest of all rhino species, can live up to 50 years if left to grow old in the wild. In an example of advanced evolutionary adaptability, the black rhino will happily choose from about 220 plant species, eating more than 70 kilograms of plants a day.

These impressive numbers, combined with some of the rhino’s more limiting characteristics – it has very poor eyesight – have added to the myth that surrounds it.

”A slight movement may bring on a rhino charge,” reported nature writer Peter Matthiessen in the 1960s. ”Its poor vision cannot make out what’s moving and its nerves cannot tolerate suspense.”

Thus it was that the rhinoceros became a permanent member of the ”big five”, the roll-call of the most dangerous animals in Africa as defined by professional hunters.

But respect has always been tinged with derision. ”I do not see how the rhinoceros can be permanently preserved,” Theodore Roosevelt is reported as wondering, ”save in very out-of-the-way places or in regular game reserves … the beast’s stupidity, curiosity and truculence make up a combination of qualities which inevitably tend to ensure its destruction.”

In the 1960s, one eminent scientist described the rhinoceros as ”a very pathetic prehistoric creature, quite unable to adapt itself to modern times. It is our duty to save and preserve this short-tempered, prehistorically stupid but nevertheless so immensely lovable creature.”

Such disparaging remarks aside, they were, of course, right to be worried.

We have been here before when it comes to saving the rhino. In 1960, an estimated 100,000 black rhinos roamed across Africa, absent only from tropical rainforests and the Sahara. By 1981, 15,000 remained. In 1995, there were just 2410 left on the continent. In 2006, the western black rhino was declared extinct.

In Kenya, the numbers of black rhino fell from 20,000 at the beginning of the 1970s to 300 within a decade. This catastrophic fall in rhino numbers was the consequence of a poaching slaughter that consumed the country’s wildlife as lucrative ivory and rhino horn was consumed to meet the growing demand in Asia; rhino horn also made its way to the Arabian Peninsula, where it was used to fashion the handles of traditional Yemeni daggers.

It was in Kenya’s south, in the Tsavo National Park, that the war against rhinos reached its nadir – the park’s rhino population fell from 9000 in 1969 to less than 100 in 1980.

Since then, rhino numbers have rebounded thanks to a combination of legal protection – the trade in rhino horn was declared illegal under the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in 1975 – and beefed-up security.

When I visited the Tsavo West Ngulia Rhino Sanctuary three decades after the massacre, I was met by guards in full military fatigues and armed with machineguns. ”These rhinos in here,” one guard told me, ”they receive more protection than many African presidents.”

Kenya’s population of black rhinos grew to about 600, with the continent-wide figure thought to be 10 times that number. Efforts to save the white rhino proved even more successful, with more than 20,000 in South Africa alone. A corner had been turned, it seemed, and the battle to save the rhino was counted among the great conservation success stories of our time.

And then Vietnam acquired a taste for rhino horn.

In 2007, 13 rhinos were killed in South Africa. In the years that followed, the rate of killing grew steadily. From 2007 to 2009, one quarter of Zimbabwe’s 800 rhinos were killed, and Botswana’s rhino population has fallen to just 38. In South Africa, home to 90 per cent of the world’s white rhinos, armed guards patrol the parks.

Even so, 448 rhinos were killed in 2011. The following year, the number rose to 668. In the first 65 days of 2013, poachers killed 146 rhinos. At current rates the figure for this year will be close to 830.

As a result, rhino populations could soon reach a tipping point that may prove difficult to reverse. The rhino death rate will exceed its birth rate within two years on current trends, according to Dr Mike Knight, chairman of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s African Rhino Specialist Group. ”We would then be eating into rhino capital.”

Chief scientist of South Africa’s National Parks Hector Magome agrees: ”If poaching continues, the rhino population will decline significantly by 2016.”

The importance of saving Africa’s black and white rhinos is given added weight by the negligible numbers for the world’s other three surviving rhino species – the almost 3000 Indian rhinos live in highly fragmented populations, while just 220 Sumatran and fewer than 45 Javan rhinos survive. Vietnam’s last population of Javan rhinos was declared extinct in October 2011.

It is proving far easier to quantify the threats faced by Africa’s rhinos than it is to arrest the decline for one simple reason: what worked in the past no longer holds.

The recent upsurge in poaching has taken place in spite of the CITES regime of international legal protection. Security is also tighter than it has ever been.

In South Africa’s Kruger National Park, home to almost half the world’s white rhinos, 650 rangers patrol an area the size of Israel or Wales. This falls well short of the one-ranger-per-10-square-kilometres ratio recommended by international experts, and more than 100 rhinos have already been killed in Kruger this year.

Thus, those charged with saving the rhino are considering radical and hitherto unimaginable solutions. One such approach gaining traction is the controversial plan to legalise the trade in rhino horn, dehorn thousands of rhinos and flood the market with newly legal horns.

Were this to happen, supporters of the proposal say, the price of rhino horn – which reached $65,000 a kilogram in 2012 – would fall, and the incentive for poaching would diminish.

Dehorning has long been opposed by conservationists – rhinos use their horns to defend themselves and while feeding. But the failure of all other methods has convinced some that the time has come to contemplate the unthinkable.

”The current situation is failing,” Dr Duan Biggs, of the University of Queensland and one of the leading advocates for legalising the trade in horns, said recently. ”The longer we wait to put in place a legal trade, the more rhinos we lose.”

Dr Biggs and others point to the legalisation of the trade in crocodile products as an example of how such a plan could work.

Critics counter that any legalisation of the trade in rhino horns is unenforceable. They also argue that lax or ineffective legal controls in Vietnam – where trading in rhino horn is already illegal – and elsewhere ensure that it will be impossible to separate legally obtained rhino horns from those supplied by poachers.

”We don’t think it would stop the poaching crisis,” says Dr Colman O’Criodain, of the World Wildlife Fund. ”We think the legal trade could make it worse.’

The debate about saving rhinos is riddled with apparent contradictions: that we must consider disfiguring rhinos if we are to save them; that rhino numbers have not been this high in half a century but the risk of their extinction has never been greater.

And so it is that the story of the rhinoceros has reached a crossroads. It is a story that pits, on one side, a creature that has adapted to everything millions of years of evolution have thrown at it, against, on the other, the humans that will either drive the species to extinction or take the difficult decisions necessary to save it.

News Link-http://www.theage.com.au/world/no-horn-of-plenty-20130514-2jknt.html#ixzz2TKNlQary

Breaking News: DPP Takes Over The Dog Porn Scandal Case

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Earlier, it was reported that Christopher Weissenrieder and the group of girls alleged to have been taking part in dog pornography were not going to be charged with bestiality when they were arraigned before a Mombasa Law Court Tuesday morning.

The Mombasa court even released the girls on a KSh100,000 bond each while Chris was released on a Ksh1 million bond and their case set to be heard in July.

However, the Director of Public Prosecution has taken up the case and is said to have added the charge of “Unnatural act with a dog.”

Announcing this new development, blogger/journalist Dennis Itumbi lauded the DPP on the move.

Earlier, there was discomfort among Kenyans who aired their grievances via social media after it became apparent that both Chris and the girls were not going to face bestiality charges.

News Link:-http://www.ghafla.co.ke/news/tv/item/8945-breaking-news-dpp-takes-over-the-dog-p0rn-scandal-case

Facebook Butcher: Online Boasting Leads To Animal Cruelty Charges

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A GRAPHIC photo of dead sheep beside a pig-hunting dog, posted on Facebook on Monday, has led to swift action by the police and a 22-year-old Orange man charged with animal cruelty offences.

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Yesterday police visited a Mullion Creek property and identified the carcasses of several dead sheep found on a nearby road after they were reported missing by a landowner.

Late yesterday afternoon a man was arrested and interviewed at Orange Police Station.

He was charged with six counts of aggravated cruelty upon an animal, seven counts of committing an act of cruelty on an animal, one count of entering enclosed land and five counts of stealing livestock.

The posting of the photograph on the social media site drew an instant response from the public with a barrage of comments condemning the man’s actions. Police launched an investigation to see if the  Facebook posting and the landowner’s complaint were linked.

The Facebook photograph of two men with three dead sheep laid out beside a hunting dog was taken at night in front of a vehicle with the number plate clearly displayed.

Police said yesterday the sheep were identified as being from the property where the owner had reported his sheep missing on Friday night.

Yesterday, police alleged the animals had not been shot, with the carcasses displaying injuries that suggested they had been mauled by a dog and stabbed.

Jo Shearim, part-owner of Bullets n Bits, a hunting supply store in Orange, said the business was inundated with calls from outraged customers on Monday, shortly after the pictures had been posted on Facebook.

“Everyone is disgusted at this,” she said.

“It is this sort of behaviour which gives responsible hunters a bad name.”

An RSPCA spokesman said they had liaised with Orange police over the alleged cruelty incidents throughout the day.

 Canobolas Local Area Command Inspector Dave Harvey said police investigations into the case were continuing.

The RSPCA said a charge of aggravated animal cruelty in NSW carried a fine of $22,000 and/or two years imprisonment.

The man has been refused bail by police and will remain in custody until his court appearance.

News Link:-http://www.centralwesterndaily.com.au/story/1501334/facebook-butcher-online-boasting-leads-to-animal-cruelty-charges/?cs=103

Maryland Child Behavioral Specialist Placed on Leave After Being Indicted on Bestiality Charges

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Jarrettsville, Maryland — A child behavioral specialist at a public school system in Maryland was recently indicted on bestiality charges after investigators allegedly found numerous video tapes at her home capturing her engaging in sexual acts with a dog.

Stephanie Mikles, 45, was placed on leave without pay this month by the Harford County Public School District after she was indicted in April for engaging in “unnatural and perverted sex practice.” According to reports, the allegations stem from incidents occurring in August 2008, which were not discovered until late last year. There is no statute of limitations involving the crime in the state.

A complaint against Mikles regarding a separate issue led to an official investigation by the child advocacy center, which resulted in the discovery of a number of videos. The shocking videos were then removed from the woman’s home and reviewed by investigators. Harford County States Attorney Joseph Cassilly told the Baltimore Sun that the footage “took a while to go through.”

“As a result of what they found, they placed the charges,” he said, noting that he believed the sexual acts occurred on “more than one instance.”

 A grand jury then indicted Mikles of having “sexual intercourse with a dog,” according to court records and still photographs presumably taken from the videos.

Mikles was released on $5,000 bond following the indictment. She faces up to 10 years in prison and a $1,000 fine. The dog is stated to still live at the Mikles household.

Mikles has been working as a behavioral specialist for the past four years, providing strategies for helping children that struggle with abnormal behavior. She was moved to a non-instructional position late last year when the district became aware of the charges against her, then put on leave with pay following her indictment in April. This month, she was placed on leave without pay.

Moral Low Ground Ground Notes that Mikles’ case is not unique, but is rather one of a string of bestiality cases to come to light just this year.

“Last month, North Carolina animal shelter volunteer Seadon Collins Etienne Henrich of Zebulon was arrested and charged with four felony counts of crime against nature and three felony counts of disseminating obscenity for allegedly abusing dogs in his care and photographing the incidents,” it outlines. “In March, 38-year-old Derwayne Wesley Sharp of Greensboro, North Carolina was charged with raping a young girl and having sex with a dog, crimes that allegedly occurred at the same time back in 2005.”

“In February, 23-year-old Kara Vandereyk was arrested by Las Vegas police who witnessed her having sex with a pit bull in her backyard,” the report continues. “In January, Charles Ralph Horton, 57, of Cedar Springs, Michigan was charged with sodomy after allegedly raping a lab/shepherd mix on multiple occasions last year. Also in January, Milford, Delaware couple Samantha L. Golt, 24, and her 25-year-old boyfriend James P. Crow were arrested and charged with bestiality. Golt allegedly had sex with a dog while Crow is accused of filming the action.”

A scheduling conference will be held on May 20th regarding Mikles’ case as she remains under investigation.

News Link:-http://christiannews.net/2013/05/14/maryland-child-behavioral-specialist-placed-on-leave-after-being-indicted-on-bestiality-charges/

School Employee Indicted For Having Sex With Her Dog “I added this News clip, purely for a picture of the reprobate!”

An employee of the Harford County public school system who works primarily with special needs students has been placed under suspension without pay following her indictment on a sex offense charge last month.

Sick

Stephanie Mikles, 45, of the 1500 block of North Bend Road in Jarrettsville, was indicted April 16 in Harford County Circuit Court on a charge of unnatural and perverted sex practice, according to court records.

The alleged crime, which involves an allegation of bestiality, occurred from Aug. 1 to Aug. 31, 2008, according to court documents. There is nothing in the court record that relates the charge to Mikles’ employment with the county school system.

News Link:http://blurbrain.com/school-employee-indicted-for-having-sex-with-her-dog/

Ag-Gag Laws Almost Lead to a Prosecution in Utah

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First Ag-Gag Prosecution Almost Comes to Fruition in Utah

Amy Meyer was driving by the Dale Smith Meatpacking Company slaughterhouse in Utah when she decided to pull over and videotape what she saw: piles or horns littered across the property, cows being dragged across the grounds, one cow in particularly who appeared sick or injured being hauled off in a tractor “as though she were nothing more than rubble,” Meyer told the online paper Green is the New Red.

Meyer’s videotaping did not go over well with the slaughterhouse manager, Darrel H. Smith, the town mayor, who told her to stop. She made it clear that she was not on his property, and had every right to record anything she wanted.

At least that’s what she thought.

However, later on Meyer learned that she was going to be prosecuted under Utah’s new law (a law many people refer to as an “ag-gag law”) which is designed to prohibit undercover videos of farms and slaughterhouses.

The charges were eventually dropped, perhaps since Meyer was on the roadside, and not trespassing on private property (although Utah’s law is sketchy on those particulars). However, this brings to light the progress that these ag-gag laws have made over the course of the year.

Background on Ag-Gag Laws

Ag-Gag Laws aren’t that new. Kansas, Montana, and North Dakota all have had forms of this type of law in place for the last two decades. But in recent years more and more states are considering implementing rules that prohibit undercover videos of animal abuse. Much of this has come as a result of troubling videos made by groups like the Humane Society and Mercy for Animals. These videos were truly undercover, meaning that the videos were taken on the property of the farms (oftentimes by employees-turned-whistleblowers of the farm or slaughterhouse).

Most of the Ag-Gag laws don’t prohibit the ability to film from a roadside (like Meyer did). However, states are finding ways around this. For example, Pennsylvania’s proposed bill criminalizes anyone who “records an image of, or sound from, the agricultural operation,” or who “uploads, downloads, transfers or otherwise sends” footage using the Internet.

Tennessee’s bill passed, and is awaiting the governor’s signature. During the process, however, one state rep (Andy Holt) referred to the Humane Society’s use of undercover footage of animal abuse as no different than how human-traffickers use 17-year-old women. He claims that organizations like the Humane Society “seek to profit from animal abuse” using a “tape and rape” method.

Proponents of ag-gag laws share at least part of Holt’s sentiment. Proponents claim that if any animal abuse does take place at a facility, employees have the ability, and obligation, to report to authorities. Videos, they believe, do nothing but sensationalize the problem, and, in fact, those who videotape these abuses for use in supporting a cause are participating in the abuse. Those who videotape animal abuse ought to be required to submit the evidence to police, immediately, rather than to broadcast it to the world.

Opponents of ag-gag laws claim that employees are not likely to openly report abuses to authorities, because they aren’t quick to report themselves or their co-workers. Furthermore, opponents claim that these videos can be used later on as evidence of abuse, if formal charges are ever brought to light.

However, above all else, opponents of ag-gag laws claim that not being able to broadcast abuse severely limits their ability to inform the public of the truth. When people actually get to see and hear the abuse, they’ll realize the problem is far worse than they imagined. These images and videos might stir people into anger and, eventually action.

Currently Nebraska, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Vermont are considering ag-gag laws similar to that of Utah and Tennessee.

Well-known animal activists, such as Carrie Underwood, aren’t taken this ag-gag progress lightly. On April 18, soon after Tennessee’s bill passed, she tweeted this to her thousands of followers:

“Shame on TN lawmakers for passing the Ag Gag bill. If Gov. Bill Haslam signs this, he needs to expect me at his front door. Who’s with me?”

Well, who’s with her?

News Link:-http://www.allpetnews.com/ag-gag-laws-almost-lead-to-a-prosecution-in-utah

RSPCA: Chicken Torture Highlights Rise In Animal Cruelty Cases

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AN ANIMAL charity in North Somerset says more donations are needed to help stem the ‘rising tide’ of cruelty cases.

The RSPCA found that cruelty to animals rose almost 34 per cent across the UK in 2012, including a group of teenage boys who tortured a chicken to death in Portishead.

The number of prosecutions for cruelty rose 15.7 per cent in England and Wales, while the number of animals rescued increased by almost 10 per cent.

Convictions for cruelty to small animals such as hamsters and rabbits rose 265 per cent, while farm-related animal cruelty prosecutions jumped up 123 per cent, with a similar increase for equine animals.

In January last year, three boys from North Somerset pleaded guilty to cruelty to a chicken called Crombie. They stole the bird from a farm before torturing and killing it.

Two boys aged 16 and one aged 17 were given referral orders and made to pay £450 in fines after they broke into a chicken run and forced the bird into a satchel.

 They then punched the chicken in the head, grabbed it by its wings and one reportedly boasted about pulling its head off on a mobile phone recording.

RSPCA chief executive Gavin Grant said: “We are leading the fight against a growing animal cruelty crisis. Our staff, volunteers and branches show tremendous dedication but they are struggling to keep up.

“More animals need our help than ever before and I urge everyone to dig deep and give us as much support as you can.

“Now more than ever we need all animal lovers to stand up against a rising tide of animal cruelty. We can’t do it without you.”

To donate, text Week to 78866 to give £3, call 0300 1238181 or go to http://www.rspca.org.uk/act

News Link:-http://www.thewestonmercury.co.uk/news/chicken_torture_highlights_rise_in_animal_cruelty_cases_1_2183715

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