THE number of complaints about animals being poisoned in Lancashire rose by almost 50 per cent in 12 months, according to new RSPCA figures.

The animal charity said the number of reports had jumped from 21 in 2012 to 30 in 2013.

It comes as the number of complaints made nationally has gone up by almost 10 per cent from 1,055 in 2012 to 1,154 last year.

The charity has warned owners about accidentally poisoning their pets by giving them ‘treats’, such as chocolate, this Easter.

It is a criminal offence to intentionally administer a poison to an animal.

This month, a sheet metal worker confessed to leaving out bags of chicken offal laced with anti-freeze which killed a neighbour’s cat in Church, near Accrington.

The RSCPA is also investigating incidents in Accrington where pets are believed to have been poisoned with anti-freeze. At least four cats were reportedly killed after drinking the substance in Wordsworth Road.

RSPCA chief veterinary officer James Yeates said it was worrying to see a rise in complaints of poisoning, but stressed that accidental poisonings could be avoided if people were more aware of the dangers in the home.

He said: “Chocolate poisoning is one of the most commonly reported types of animal poisoning, so Easter is the ideal time to remind people of the hazards in their home that could accidentally poison their pets.

“Easter eggs are a tasty treat, but a hefty vet’s bill won’t be quite so easy to swallow if your pet wolfs them down before you.

“It isn’t just chocolate that is dangerous. Did you know rhubarb is poisonous to rabbits, or grapes could kill your ferret?”

To report animal poisoning, call the RSPCA’s 24-hour cruelty line on 0300 1234999.