In need of a loving new home: Soldier the Alsatian starved to within an inch of its life by cruel owner


Emaciated and elated: Soldier the Alsatian cross cuts a sorry figure (left) after being found weighing just half his normal body weight and (right) back to his happy self after nursed back to health by the RSPCA

With barely a morsel of flesh left on his body and his fur falling out, Soldier looks on his last legs.
The once-strapping Alsatian cross was discovered by RSPCA inspectors weighing just half his healthy weight after being starved to bare bones by his former owner.
A view from above reveals just how shockingly close he came to death, with his body measuring just a couple of inches across at its narrowest.
Fortunately, he was rescued just in time and his owner has now been prosecuted for animal cruelty.
He now weighs in at a happy 42kg and is looking for a loving new home after being nursed back to health at the RSPCA's centre in Ashley Heath, near Ringwood, Hampshire.

Shockingly thin: Soldier's owner has been prosecuted for animal cruelty, along with more than 1,000 others in the past year

But his story is one which is becoming increasingly common as convictions for cruelty to animals rose by almost a quarter last year, according to figures released today by the RSPCA.
Cases included a dog repeatedly stabbed with a potato peeler, a blind kitten found dumped in a carrier bag and a pair of bearded dragons left for two months inside handbags in a loft.

Bright future: Soldier, pictured with RSPCA inspector Patrick Bailey, is now looking for a caring new owner after being looked after at the charity's Animal Centre at Ashley Heath near Ringwood, Hampshire

Some 1,341 people were convicted of cruelty or neglect against pets and farm animals in 2011, a rise of 23.5 per cent on the previous year.
A total of 74 prison sentences were imposed - a rise of 27% - including one for a man filmed kicking his dog and pulling him into the air with his lead while taking him for a walk.
There was also a 21 per cent jump in the number of disqualification orders imposed by the courts with 1,100 people banned from keeping animals.
The RSPCA received 1,314,795 calls from the public last year and had a 98.2 per cent prosecution success rate for the cases it took to court.
But now, on the eve of RSCPA week - its annual fundraising push - the charity says it is struggling to cope with the upsurge in cases.

Worrying increase: Some 1,341 people were convicted of cruelty or neglect against pets and farm animals in 2011, a rise of 23.5 per cent on the previous year

Sally Case, head of society prosecutions, said: 'The RSPCA strives to keep animals with their owners wherever possible and offers advice on improving their welfare.
'Overwhelmingly this advice is followed, but where it isn't, or where someone has already harmed an animal there has to be a way of ensuring that animals are not left to suffer and the RSPCA is the charity people turn to - and we are struggling to continue providing this service.
'Of course we work closely with governmental and other charitable organisations, but we are the main organisation which prosecutes those who abuse animals and which can prevent cruelty to animals.
'We can't do this without the help and support of the public and we need it now more than ever.'
RSPCA Week 2012 runs from April 30 to May 6. To donate or find out more about Soldier contact 03001 238 000 or click here.

source: dailymail