FEARS for animal welfare are growing after a rise in violence against pets.

The RSPCA has taken hundreds of calls in the last three years warning that some people in West Sussex are deliberately abusing their animals.

There have been 426 reports of deliberate abuse in the area since 2019.

Last year there were 127 cases, up from 117 in the previous period.

But with an increase in pet ownership due to the pandemic, combined with financial problems amid the cost of living crisis, the issue could get worse, the charity said.

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 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."

East Sussex, however, showed signs of improvement, with 168 cases reported last year, down from 204 in 2020.

It comes as West Ham United footballer Kurt Zouma was prosecuted after he was filmed kicking his cat in February.

He was later handed 180 hours of community service and banned from owning a cat for five years after pleading guilty to two counts of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal.

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

The problem is expected to get worse imminently, as the summer months usually draw the greatest number of calls.

The Argus: Kurt ZoumaKurt Zouma

August last year was the busiest month for the RSPCA nationally, with 1,041 calls taken.

One million calls were taken by the RSPCA, raising the alarm over all types of animal cruelty last year.

One thousand of those were killings.

"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.