Disturbing new figures on animal cruelty have revealed South West towns make up half of the top 10 worst places in regional WA, with Bunbury ranked fourth overall. Compiled by the RSPCA, the animal cruelty hot spot list is based on the number of reports received during a financial year. It found for Bunbury that animal cruelty was reported to the RSPCA at the rate of almost three cases a week. However the regional town ranked worst overall was Albany followed by Greater Geraldton and Kalgoorlie-Boulder ranked third. South West towns filled five of the top 10 hot spots with Bunbury, Busselton and Harvey ranked fourth to sixth, then Augusta-Margaret River and Collie in eighth and ninth place. The remainder of the top 10 were made up of Broome, ranked seventh, and Northam in tenth place of worst regional town for animal cruelty. Of the South West towns, Busselton had the biggest increase in reports with 98 per cent more than the previous year, followed by Collie and Augusta-Margaret River with both about 50 per cent higher. As a result, RSPCA WA is now planning to hold a Community Action Day in Busselton in November to combat the increased offending. RSPCA WA CEO Ben Cave believes the cost-of-living crisis may have played a roll in the increased figures. “Reports about owners failing to seek vet care spiked by 18 per cent last financial year, compared to 2021-22,” he said. “Meanwhile, reports of animals without enough food or water were up 22 per cent. “On the surface these reports might seem less serious than violent acts of cruelty. But the sad reality is, the animals in these cases have often suffered day in, day out for weeks or months. “We understand owners fall on hard financial times, but ignoring your pet’s pain or hunger is not a solution, it’s animal cruelty.” There were several notable animal cruelty cases within the region over the past 12 months, including a Margaret River cat caught in a jaw steel trap, a Bridgetown labradoodle puppy farm, a Bunbury dog who had its chest stapled shut and a second Bunbury pup who had been starved. The data showed that the most common type of animal cruelty offending across the State was the ill-treatment of an animal with 3298 reports, followed by animals not receiving veterinary treatment with 1603, and 1507 reports of animals having insufficient food or water.