Dogs in Islington stabbed, glassed and burned with cigarettes, secretary of state told

A government minister has witnessed the impact of shocking cruelty to dogs in Islington on a visit to the borough.

Environment secretary Caroline Spelman was told how canines have been stabbed, glassed and burned with cigarettes when she visited the home of Rolf Harris’ TV show Animal Hospital.

Ms Spelman last week toured the Harmsworth Animal Hospital in Sonderburg Road, Holloway.

There she saw dogs that had suffered appalling injuries at the hands of their owners or other pets being used as ‘‘attack animals’’.

The hospital, which is run by the RSPCA, revealed that the problem is growing in Islington, where 285 canines were treated in 2011, up from 258 in 2010 – a rise of 10 per cent.

Director David Grant said: “I started working here 25 years ago, but the problem of irresponsible ownership is as bad now as I have ever seen.

“I’ve treated dogs that have been stabbed, kicked, punched and burned with cigarettes.

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“I even recently had to operate on a dog that had been smashed in the face with a glass bottle, not to mention thousands of innocent animals that have been attacked by other dogs which have been deliberately used as weapons by their owners.”

The visit followed a dire warning issued by Mr Grant, who retires this year, in the Gazette at Christmas about the rise in injuries to dogs.

The RSPCA is calling on the government to legislate to make microchipping compulsory to help combat the problem.

Ms Spelman said: “I was able to see for myself some of the consequences of irresponsible dog ownership and listen to the RSPCA’s views, as the government prepares a package of measures to deal with this terrible problem.”

RSPCA chief executive Gavin Grant, who joined Ms Spelman’s visit to the Harmsworth, said: “Finally the coalition government is starting to listen.

“They seem to be moving towards requiring microchipping and a database to identify dogs in England. That has been at the heart of our demands for 25 years.

“David and I made sure the government has heard that message loud and clear.”

The Harmsworth featured in the BBC documentary series Animal Hospital.