ANIMAL CRUELTY: Call yourselves a nation of animal lovers? Prove it!

I'm starting to wonder whether our traditional mantle as '˜a nation of animal-lovers' should be retracted.

What I don’t get is what inspires someone to head out, presumably in the dead on night, and cut off a horse’s tail?

And to do that not just the once, but three times - presuming that it is the same offender, of course, and we don’t have copycat crimes taking place.

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If you’ve not heard about this story, the latest incident happened in Mickley Lane in Stretton, Shirland, last week.

Someone hacked off a horse’s tail.

The PCSO who is dealing with the latest offence, Kate Hodnett, says that this sort of mindless cruelty on a ‘defenceless animal will not be tolerated’.

But cruelty to animals now seems such a regular occurrence in our communities that I think we are tolerating it.

Maybe we don’t see it. Maybe we see it but choose not to act. Maybe the sort of people committing these vile crimes are not the sort you would naturally want to challenge.

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One community has stepped forward - to call for a roof over the head of 12-month-old sheepdog Meg, who seems to be living rough outside in a Hope Valley village.

But Meg is a year-old pedigree, and I wonder if that fact alone pangs the heartstrings a little more.

It makes you wonder how people would react if a stray and dishevelled ‘pit bull-type’ breed was wandering around unsupervised?

A brief scan back through the recent archive of both the Derbyshire Times and the Chad unearths a catalogue of animal cruelty.

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We’ve run stories about people kicking dogs, people abandoning horses on the side of the road, people letting their dogs attack other people’s pets.

Not so long ago, I covered a court case over in Mansfield where a couple had left their three dogs locked up in the house for a week while they went on holiday.

The dogs were so agitated, or hungry perhaps - although the couple claimed that a neighbour was popping in to feed them - that one of the three was killed by the others, and then eaten.

I’ve seen the photographs of what was left. They are not pleasant.

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More recently, The Derbyshire Times covered a story about a young foal that had been abandoned, left to die, on the side of the road near Clowne.

And that’s before we even get to scumbag Bolsover brothers Thomas and James Hill, who were jailed for kicking an elderly dog to death.

The number of dogs being abandoned by owners is rising. The number of dogs stolen for use as ‘bait’ in dog fights is rocketing. The number of dangerous dogs being destroyed is also on the up.

And hardly a month goes by without us reporting on the latest spate of cat poisonings.

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I mean, come on . . . is this really the behaviour of a nation of animal lovers?

A few weeks ago, my wife witnessed a man kick his dog as she drove through the village where we live. She screeched to a halt and gave the gentleman concerned ‘both barrels’.

Now I’m not saying that this is always the right thing to do.

But if you hate cruelty to animals - and I really hate cruelty to animals - then don’t stand for it. Do something about it. Don’t put yourself at risk. But act.

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Film it on your phone then turn the footage over to the police or the RSPCA.

If you suspect an animal is being badly treated in your community, report it. Bring in the experts to evaluate its living conditions.

And one final gripe with the RSPCA.

Horses are animals as well. They need someone to fight their corner against cruelty in the same way as any domestic pet.

And yet the charity is often reluctant to get involved for incidents of cruelty to horses.

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A few times I’ve called the RSPCA, to report horses tethered and seemingly forgotten, on a grass verge next to a major road close to where I live.

And each time I’ve been given a different excuse for why its ‘nothing to do with them’.

Call yourselves a nation of animal lovers? I think it’s time you stood up and proved it.