Thousands of dogs have been victims of cruelty since the start of the pandemic, it has been revealed.

In Greater Manchester alone there were 2,325 reports of dog cruelty in the past year reported to the RSCPA, of which 415 cases were categorised as intentional harm.

The animal welfare charity also revealed nationally more than 10 reports of dog cruelty were made per hour in the past 12 months – and warns cases will rise again during the summer.

There were 44,427 reports of dog cruelty made to the charity, involving 92,244 dogs last year.

Messenger Newspapers: The RSPCA said it is bracing itself for a "summer of suffering".The RSPCA said it is bracing itself for a "summer of suffering".

The figures include 10,228 dogs being beaten – which is a 16 per cent increase since 2020 when cruelty reports involving 79,513 dogs were made.

The RSPCA said it is concerned with the number of dog owners which rocketed during lockdown – and for the ‘summer spike’ when the charity handles much more cases.

On average, it receives around 90,000 calls to its cruelty line every month, but in the summer months July and August this rockets to a rise in 134,000 a month.

In 2021, it received 1,081,018 calls to its cruelty line which included reports of animals being killed (the equivalent of almost three a day), mutilated (12 per week), beaten (one every hour) and abandoned (more than 100 every day).

The RSPCA is also concerned that more dogs will fall victim to abuse and abandonment as the cost-of-living crisis piles on additional financial pressures on pet owners.

RSPCA dog welfare expert Dr Samantha Gaines said: “Every year, we see many dogs coming into our care bearing the physical and mental scars that were inflicted at the hands of the very people who were meant to keep them safe and love them unconditionally.

“We are supposed to be a nation of animal lovers and dogs are ‘man’s best friend’ as the saying goes but in reality we receive many cruelty reports every day about dogs who have suffered the most unimaginable cruelty and a 16 per cent increase of dogs being cruelly treated in a year is really concerning."

Dr Gaines said RSPCA officers deal with a range of horrific incidents where dogs have been beaten, stabbed, burned, drowned, poisoned and left to die from starvation.

She said the public has helped to save many dogs from abuse but added that the team is "bracing ourselves" for a "summer of suffering".

The RSPCA has launched a new campaign, Cancel Out Cruelty, to raise funds to keep its rescue services on the frontline and has appealed to the public for help.