THOSE of us who drive around the countryside may fail to notice the many hidden prisoners.

Many farm dogs, guard dogs and even so-called pet dogs are being kept in yards or in small pens with completely inadequate shelter and little or no bedding. There may be a filthy old blanket or thin layers of newspapers or plastic feed bags on bare boards that the dogs lay on.

Some dogs are even tied or chained.

You may only hear some of these dogs as they are locked in dark sheds, only let out when the farmer wants to work them.

The RSPCS ha been called to many cases I know of and all too often nothing is done.

I have even spoken to farmers asking if the dog could have a thick bed of straw even offering to pay for this and although they may seem amenable it doesn't happen and nothing changes for the dog.

The idyllic picture of the working farm dog lying by the hearth is not always the case.

If you see dogs being kept like this please report them to the RSPCA or the police and also write to your MP asking for better animal welfare laws to be tabled.