As reported in the Daily Echo, the RSPCA was successful in banning a Hampshire couple who kept rabbits.
The charity brought the case against Dawn and Pete Bundy after discovering animals kept at the pair’s house in October last year.
Legal fees set the charity back around £20,000 – the rest was made up of veterinary bills and the cost of housing the animals for a year.
Speaking after the case, RSPCA inspector Christine Coleman explained the cost of the case is something the charity had to accept.
She said: “It is a huge bill to pick up but our aim is to prevent cruelty to animals so it had to be done".
Although animal cruelty is a criminal offence, the RSPCA takes on the role of the prosecutor – and therefore is liable to pick up the fees.
RSPCA spokeswoman Emma Nutbrown said: “The downside is that it costs us a lot of money each year “It is a balancing act we can’t put a price on enforcing it.”
In 2007 the RSPCA investigated 137,245 cases of animal cruelty, 1,860 of which were reported to the charity’s prosecutions department.
That resulted in 1,104 convictions and 861 orders banning people from keeping animals.
“We don’t go into houses looking to prosecute people,” said Mrs Nutbrown.