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Geelong has emerged as the worst animal cruelty hotspot in Victoria for the second year running.
The city was responsible for more than 550 animal cruelty reports to the RSPCA last financial year, although that figure was down by almost 90 reports from 2020/21.
Casey in Melbourne's outer southeast also maintained the second spot with more than 530 reports in 2021/22, compared with almost 580 in the previous year.
The troubling data comes as the RSPCA launches an interactive online map to let Victorians track animal cruelty in their local government areas.
When the data is broken down by cruelty reports per capita, Pyrenees Shire Council in the state's west and Strathbogie Shire Council in the northeast took out the first and second spots respectively in 2021/22.
RSPCA Victoria's inspectorate responded to more than 10,500 animal cruelty reports last financial year and neglect was the basis for almost half the reports.
That was contrary to the common perception animal cruelty only relates to deliberate and violent acts such as beating and wounding an animal, RSPCA Victoria chief inspector Michael Stagg said.
More than 6800 of the reports involved dogs or puppies, about 1900 involved cats and kittens and 1070 involved horses.
"We acknowledge that in addition to the rising cost of living, which may impact the ability of some to care for their pets, many Victorians adopted pets during the pandemic, some as first-time pet owners who may still require information or support to help them understand how to best care for their animals," Mr Stagg said.
"It is important all pet owners understand the specific needs of their pets in terms of food, water, shelter, grooming and exercise."
The RSPCA says Victorians can take three steps to help end animal cruelty, including making sure their pets have sufficient food, constant access to clean water, adequate shelter and regular vet checks.
If Victorians are struggling to care for their animals they should reach out for help, speak to their vet about options or contact their local animal shelter or RSPCA Victoria.
They should also report suspected cases of animal cruelty to RSPCA Victoria.
Wyndham in Melbourne's outer southwest came in third for animal cruelty reports. Hume in the northwest was fourth and Whittlesea, in the city's outer northeast, was fifth.
RSPCA Victoria's inspectorate doled out more than 280 notices to comply and finalised 74 prosecutions in 2021/22 - 68 of which resulted in guilty findings.
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