HUNDREDS of calls warning of deliberate animal cruelty in Northumberland have been made to RSPCA helplines over the last three years, new figures show.

The RSPCA said it was a 'sad reality' that the charity deals with animal cruelty on a daily basis.

RSPCA figures show there were 49 calls to its helpline for reporting intentional harm to an animal in Northumberland last year – down from 70 in 2020.

There were 92 calls over deliberate cruelty in 2019, meaning there have been a total of 211 in the last three years alone.

Intentional harm incidents involve attempted or improper killings, beatings, poisonings, mutilations and injuries or deaths in suspicious circumstances.

Across England, 35,379 calls were made reporting intentional harm over the last three years.

Dermot Murphy, RSPCA chief inspectorate officer, said: "It is a sad reality that we deal with animal cruelty every day here at the RSPCA.

"We are a nation of animal lovers but yet we received over 11,000 complaints of intentional harm through our helpline last year reporting animals from cats, dogs, hedgehogs and everything in between who have sadly been victims of deliberate cruelty.

"We need your help to keep our frontline officers out on the road saving animals and to help us raise awareness that this cruelty is never acceptable."

In March, two emaciated kittens were rescued by the RSPCA after they were found dumped and dying behind a bin.

Both kittens were taken for emergency treatment by RSPCA Inspector Rachael Hurst and were taken into the care of the charity's Northumberland West branch, whose staff have called them Barney and Matilda and report they have made great progress regaining their health and strength.

“Both kittens would have died if they hadn’t been picked up. They had both been starved and there was no weight on them at all,” said Rachael.

Mr Murphy also highlighted the rise in intentional harm calls during the summer months – nationally, more calls were taken between July and September than any other three-month period last year.

The RSPCA is concerned that the rise in pet ownership during the coronavirus pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis could lead to a rise in animal cruelty incidents in the future.

The charity received more than 1 million calls reporting all types of cruelty in 2021, with more than 1,000 killings and almost 8,000 beatings reported.

Meanwhile, more than 38,000 animal abandonments were recorded last year.

"These figures are shocking and deeply upsetting and show why we need your help to save those animals who need us the most now more than ever," Mr Murphy said.