Over 92% of people found guilty of animal cruelty avoid spending time in prison, according to a new report.
The Centre for Crime Prevention, which compiled the report, said that despite the seriousness of animal cruelty offences serious penalties are extremely rare.
The current maximum jail sentence for animal cruelty in England and Wales is six months but the Government is being urged to increase this to five years.
Among those cases that resulted in a fine or a suspended sentence rather than a prison sentence were the starving of a dog to death; strangling of a cat before throwing it in the bin; and the filming of a bulldog down the stairs so many times that it had to be put down.
Analysis by the Centre for Crime Prevention found that of the 13,862 people found guilty of animal cruelty in England and Wales between 2005 to 2015, just 1,063 received a prison sentence.
A third of cases (34%) resulted in community service, while a quarter (24%) were punished with a fine.
The size of these fines has also dropped over the past decade, falling from an average of £479 in 2005 to just £296 in 2016.
The report said the current maximum sentence for animal cruelty of six months in prison is the lowest in Europe and recommends that it should be brought in line with Northern Ireland and increased to five years.
Peter Cuthbertson, director of the Centre for Crime Prevention, said: “Animal lovers will be horrified to learn that animal cruelty is one of the many offences treated extremely leniently by our courts.
“The Government is currently exploring tougher sentences for animal cruelty. This is absolutely necessary.
The RSPCA said it would also like to see the maximum sentence increased to five years.
Its interim chief executive, Michael Ward, said: “While the RSPCA is seeing unbelievably shocking and distressing cases go before the courts, only a tiny proportion of animal abusers actually receive an immediate custodial sentence.”
The charity said a poll had found that seven out of 10 people would like to see tougher sentencing for animal welfare offences.