Animals in the Bay have had their ears hacked off, been starved to death and surgically operated on by their owners.

This is the reality of abuse Tauranga SPCA inspector Jason Blair has encountered in his eight-year-career while another local rescue trust says it had to euthanase birds and hedgehogs after they were attacked by kids.

Figures from the SPCA show the number of abuse complaints the Tauranga centre had investigated jumped from 395 in 2015 to 466 last year - or an average of eight a week.

Blair said the SPCA was currently looking at three high-level cases which could result in prosecution, but details remained confidential.

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The ill-treatment and cruelty of animals was a problem across New Zealand, he said, and ''certainly in the Bay of Plenty, there is no exception to that rule''.

One of the first horror stories he dealt with was a horse ''it was so emaciated an equine expert said it was the skinniest horse he had ever seen''. The horse subsequently died, Blair said.

But most of the worst-case scenarios did have happy endings and Brodie, a bull mastiff crossbreed dog, was one of those examples.

''Brodie suffered a fractured paw from being run over and had crushed bones. No veterinary treatment was sought for weeks if not months, and he was in significant pain.

''A person tried to perform surgery on the dog and removed some of his bones. I took him into my possession on October 7, 2013.''

Subsequently, two people were prosecuted while Brodie had his front leg amputated and was rehomed, he said.

Blair encouraged any member of the public to call the SPCA if they had any animal welfare concerns for advice or to make an official complaint.

Under the Animal Welfare Act, owners had to provide basic care.

ARRC Wildlife Trust veterinarian Liza Schnieder said a shag died from severe injuries after children threw stones at it.

''The lady who rescued the shag said that the kids continued to throw stones at her when she removed the shag. Unfortunately, we do see cases of animal abuse and cruelty.''

Sometimes it was because animals had been sick and their owners had not them to the vet, she said.

''They have suffered from neglect and other times we see cases where birds or hedgehogs have been kicked, hit or had objects thrown at them by children. Some of these animals have been so severely injured that we have had to humanely euthanase them whereas others have been nursed back to health.''

The trust aimed to educate children ''about the impact man has on animals and our environment and what they can do to help''.

It had published the ARRC Kids Adventure series of books including one called Tilly's Tumble which highlights animal cruelty, she said.

SPCA 2018 annual appeal

* Aims to raise awareness and funding to support the 15,000+ animal welfare complaints it receives every year.
* Promote ongoing education to prevent animal cruelty.
* From March 9 to March 11
* Donations to www.spcaannualappeal.org.nz