Joe the cat in Sarnia became headline news on Monday after being shot in the head 17 times with a pellet gun and miraculously surviving, and although he is an extreme case, sadly he's not alone.

"This is our 38th cruelty case this year, which is very alarming compared to last year's numbers. Last year it was around the 20-25 mark so there has definitely been an increase in animal cruelty," says Donna Pyette of the Sarnia and District Humane Society.

London is also seeing a rise in animal cruelty cases, according to Chris Chew, an investigator with the London Humane Society.

"I started in 2006 with the humane society and at the end of the year we did 786 calls. This year being 2013 we did 1,266 calls for the entire year."

In 2013, London had eight per cent all of all the animal cruelty calls across the entire province, but the reason remains unclear.

"There was some speculation back in the day that maybe the recession and the economy and things haven't quite improved to the best they can yet and we do feel we are seeing some of that maybe," adds Chew.

Another possibility is that the penalties for those who are charged aren't strong enough.

The OSPCA believes there should be stricter sentencing, but London lawyer Gord Cudmore says there are strong laws in place.

"There are sufficient penalties available. You can get up to five years in jail for cruelty to animals, but there aren't a lot of those cases to go around and we don't ever see those sentences."

Cudmore believes if the maximum sentence is ever given out it would set a good example and hopefully help with prevention.