Meanwhile the RSPCA has said its finances are at breaking point following a slump in money left in wills and a rise in the number of cruelty cases taken to court.

More than 2,100 people were prosecuted last year for mistreating dogs, a rise of 22%, and more than 1,300 for cruelty to other animals, a rise of 23.5%. Around 1,100 were banned from owning pets and 71 received jail sentences.

About £59 million was left to the charity in 2010, down 20% on 2009. Despite a small rise in donations from the public the charity still received a total income of £115 million in 2010, £15 million down on 2009.

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