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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.– Forsyth County Animal Control investigators say they’ve written more than 1,300 animal neglect and animal cruelty citations over the past year, a drastic increase from the past few years.

Forsyth County Animal Control Director Tim Jennings says in many cases, dogs are found starving with no water and no shelter. In many recent cases, dogs have been found left alone so long their collars and chains have grown into their neck.

Jennings says he doesn’t think more people are abusing animals, rather more people are aware of the problems and reporting them.

Jennifer Tierney, a board member with animal rights group Furever Friends, says that is no way for any living creature to exist.

“This community has had it with the people that are doing it. We are tired of elected officials not doing anything about it,” said Tierney.

While Tierney says it’s great more people are reporting abuse, part of the problem is judges still impose minimal sentences and county commissioners aren’t willing to properly fund animal control.

For those reasons, abusers aren’t afraid of getting caught.

“I think the district attorney’s office is taking this seriously, animal control is taking this seriously, people are taking it seriously; but we need rest of court system and all elected officials to take it seriously,” says Tierney.

Tierney and others plan to monitor and make public judge’s sentences and county commissioners votes related to animal abuse issues.

“We are going to start holding all of our elected officials accountable for whats happening to animals in our county,” said Tierney.