THE North-East has cemented its reputation as the animal cruelty capital of Britain with horrific incidents of neglect and abuse taking place across the region.

The RSPCA annual report reveals that more than 190 people were convicted of animal cruelty in the North-East and North Yorkshire last year.

Prosecutions were up by five in County Durham, four in Northumberland and one in Tyne and Wear, although down ten in North Yorkshire.

The report catalogues a year of appalling cruelty, but also tells survival stories where animals were brought back from the brink and their owners punished. The case studies include a herd of llamas left to become "living skeletons" near Knaresborough, North Yorkshire.

The ten llamas had little grass to graze on, an empty ring-feeder and a dilapidated shelter without bedding. One of the animals, which had collapsed, was put to sleep with the owner’s permission.

A 41-year-old man admitted one allegation of causing unnecessary suffering and two allegations of failing to meet the needs of the llamas.

He was banned from keeping any animals for 10 years.

In another case, an author of horse care books and her husband were found guilty of causing unnecessary suffering to their own horses.

The horses were found standing in litter which had not been cleaned out for so long that their heads were almost touching the stable roof.

The amount of muck did not hide their horribly overgrown and deformed hooves.

The stallion was unable to move out of his stable and was put to sleep by the owner’s vet at the scene.

In a further cruelty case, three shih-tzus were among four dogs and 12 cats found living in a filthy house in the Linton Colliery area, Northumberland.

The dogs had difficulty seeing and walking because their coats were so overgrown and matted with faeces. In one of the most horrific cases, two teenagers from the Ashington area were given custody at a youth offenders institute after footage was found on their mobiles of many attacks on deer and foxes with dogs, and an incident involving live rats fed to a boa constrictor.

In an appeal for funding and support, RSPCA Chief Executive Gavin Grant said: "The RSPCA is leading the fight against a growing animal cruelty crisis.”