The disturbing scale of animal cruelty in Lancashire has emerged as figures show more than 5,000 cases were investigated by the RSPCA last year.
Lancashire had the sixth highest number of complaints investigated in England in 2016/2015, with 5,124 incidents, compared with 4,811 the previous year.
They include a hamster being fed LSD and cannabis at a house in Heysham, a kitten put in a tumble dryer and an emaciated elderly dog that was found lying in faeces with an untreated eye tumour that had extended into his brain.
The hamster, named Mr Chow, had his water bottles filled with Tizer laced with LSD at a property on Kingsway, Heysham, last year, and was also given cannabis leaves to eat.
Distressing footage of the incident sparked outrage among animal lovers. Nchinumya Ntembe, 23, of Cypress Road, Lancaster, was jailed for four months after admitting causing unnecessary suffering to the hamster and his two dogs and failing to meet the needs of two dogs.
The RSPCA prosecuted 31 people for animal cruelty across the county over the same period between 2016/2015.
The RSPCA believes a surge in investigations has partly been prompted by people becoming more likely to share concerns about animals on social media.
Dermot Murphy, assistant director of the RSPCA Inspectorate, said: “It never fails to shock me when I look back on the extreme instances of animal cruelty the RSPCA has been called upon to investigate. It continues to outrage and sadden me that people can be capable of such deliberate brutality towards animals, but equally it drives me on to ensure that perpetrators of animal cruelty are put before the courts.
“I believe that the figures from last year show that we’re not becoming crueller, but that people are simply less willing to stand by and do nothing if they think an animal is suffering.
“People are increasingly likely to share images or footage on their social media accounts of animals they believe are not being cared for properly, while many will see material their friends have shared and then contact us about them.
“Either way, though, thanks to our officers dedication, as well as RSPCA staff and volunteers across England and Wales, we are able to transform the lives of tens of thousands of animals each year.”