Figures released by the RSPCA have revealed Latrobe City is the ninth worst area in Victoria for animal cruelty.
The RSPCA recorded 358 cruelty reports in the Latrobe City local government area in 2015-16.
Dogs were more likely than other animals to be the subject of a report, with 183 reports relating to canines.
An additional 19 related to the mistreatment of puppies.
Eighty-five reports were about horses, 53 about cats and 13 about kittens.
RSPCA Victoria chief executive Liz Walker said the organisation would use the information to target its animal cruelty response to areas of need.
“RSPCA Victoria’s vision is ending cruelty to tall animals and we know that prevention is the key to ending cruelty,” Dr Walker said.
“Over the next 12 months we will be using this data to help us identify the areas that would benefit most from community education and support.”
The most serious issues in the region were 63 reports of abandoned animals and 32 concerns about animals being beaten or wounded.
Other concerns included 91 reports of sick and injured animals not receiving treatment, 101 concerns about hygiene, grooming or housing and 151 reports of underweight animals.
The RSPCA also investigated 84 reports of animals receiving insufficient food, 66 with insufficient water and 61 with insufficient shelter.
Dr Walker said even one case of animal cruelty was “one too many”.
“The number of reports we receive is steadily increasing every year,” she said.
“We know that the community is becoming more concerned about animal welfare – which may be part of the reason for the continued rise in report numbers.”
The organisation received 11,840 reports across the state, with the highest number recorded in the Casey City Council area (566 cases).
Greater Geelong had the second highest number of reports with 554 and Melbourne City Council had 479.
The only other regional area to appear in the top 10 was Greater Bendigo, with 369 reports.
“What is particularly disturbing is the fact that many of the issues reported to us involve very basic animal welfare matters, such as the way animals are being housed and fed,” Dr Walker said.
Animal cruelty reports can be made online at www.rspcavic.org and emergency cases can be reported by phoning 9224 2222.