A RECORD number of pets are being abandoned, it was revealed today.

RSPCA officers in the region dealt with 33,688 cases last year - a 10% rise on the previous year.

And whether it’s a swan shot with a crossbow, kittens dumped in a suitcase, cattle stranded on a flooded bank or a dog left injured and abandoned, officials insisted no animal is too big or too small.

For the second year running the animal welfare charity rescued over 30,000 wild, exotic, farm and domestic animals across the north region (33,688 in 2007 up from 32,521 in 2006), and nearly 150,000 animals nationwide.

Many were rescued in the north because they were “callously abandoned” by their owners - from 1,824 in 2006 to 2,009 in 2007. Nationally, the number of abandoned animals rescued by the Society increased by 23 per cent from 5,959 in 2006 to 7,347 in 2007.

Typical examples of how animals were abandoned across the north in 2007 include:

l A cat and five one-week-old kittens abandoned in a zipped-up suitcase in a supermarket car park

l Six rabbits dumped at the side of a busy main road

l A dog suffering from an untreated tumour tied-up and abandoned outside an RSPCA Animal Centre

l An eight-year-old dog dumped in the lay-by of a busy motorway

And the worrying trend could be continuing. Just four months into 2008, the Society has already rescued 699 abandoned animals across the north region - including pups dumped in Kirklees.

The news comes at the start of RSPCA Week (April 28 to May 4) – the society’s largest annual fundraising and awareness-raising push.

David Millard, RSPCA north regional superintendent, said: “The RSPCA works around the clock to rescue thousands of animals every year from a wide range of distressing situations and 2007 was no exception.

“Last summer we also deployed the biggest number of RSPCA staff for a generation to the rescue of farm animals, horses and other much-loved pets from the severe floods that swept the country.

“During RSPCA Week we want people to spare a thought for the many thousands of animals needing the RSPCA’s help each year and in particular for anyone thinking about getting a pet to consider the responsibility they are taking on before doing so.

“Sadly we noticed a rise in the number of animals we rescued last year because they were callously abandoned. It is an offence to abandon any animal and there is never any excuse for doing so. If people have pets they cannot care for, for any reason, then help and advice is always available from the RSPCA.”