CRUELTY to animals is despicable in itself – whether its hunting down foxes to be ripped to shreds or horses running themselves to death on a track for money.

But harming your own pet, and a small kitten, nonetheless, is truly sickening. Joe Purvis faces six months in prison.

Firstly, there needs to be greater checks in place regarding who is able to adopt animals and, secondly, there needs to be more specialised treatment for people who are guilty of harming animals.

Torturing an animal is different to just abandoning it, though both come from a very disturbed place in the human psyche.

Research suggests that those who torture animals at an early age could go on to commit far worse crimes later in life. This needs to be understood at a greater level.

Shaun Monson’s documentary, Earthlings, explores humanity’s cruelty towards animals and there is some haunting footage of everyday people committing horrendous acts of cruelty for no reason. One scene shows a stray dog being thrown into a bin lorry crusher, for example. It's hard to comprehend.