THEY are supposed to be man's best friend and our constant companion but the Fraser Coast is not treating our four-legged friends with the respect they deserve.
New figures reveal a shocking 540 animal cruelty complaints were made to the RSPCA on the Fraser Coast alone between July 1 last year and June 30 this year.
The 4650 postcode, which encompasses Maryborough, was the worst in the region recording 260 of the complaints.
A further 242 complaints were lodged in the 4655 which encompasses Hervey Bay and surrounds. The horrifically high numbers did not surprise RSPCA Wide Bay Inspector Penny Flaherty who said she had been noticing an increase in the number of complaints received.
"I am always busy," Ms Flaherty said.
Ms Flaherty said the types of mistreatment ranged to include neglect and failing to adequately feed their pets and stock.
But there was one form of cruelty which Ms Flaherty was seeing almost every day.
"Failing to treat is a big one," she said.
Ms Flaherty said she often saw dogs, cats and horses left to suffer with medical conditions which would have been cheap and simple to treat if they had been looked after at the early stages of infection.
Recently the Fraser Coast has seen some shocking evidence of mistreatment including a former Maryborough woman was jailed earlier this month, after she pleaded guilty to failing to provide treatment for her staffy cross Boof.
In July, a mother and son were banned from keeping animals for 10 years after neglecting a labrador puppy so severely it lost all its fur.
Ms Flaherty called on all potential pet owners to act responsibly.
"If you don't have the money (to provide treatment), don't get an animal," Ms Flaherty said.
RSPCA figures show it costs about $1000 a year to raise and cat and about $1500 a year for a dog.
Those figures include only the bare minimum of food, vaccinations, worming and flea treatment. They do not include any emergency trips to the vet.
Ms Flaherty said she often saw people had not sought treatment because they could not afford to.
Maryborough Animal Rescue day manager Jess Donnelly said a number of the rescue dogs they saw were clearly neglected.
"We have a lot of dogs that come in and that are not looked after well enough," she said.
The RSPCA has one message for those who have a pet they may not be able to afford.
"If people find themselves where they do have an animal and it can't be treated, it can be surrendered to the RSPCA," she said.
But, Ms Flaherty said the best way to prevent animal cruelty was to ensure a pet was accounted for in the household budget.
Cruelty complaints by postcode
4581 - 3
4650 - 260
4655 - 242
4659 - 26
4662 - 9
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