The RSPCA today urged the Government to bring in a new law which would see owners prosecuted who fail to provide their animals with sufficient water, food and shelter.
The organisation issued its call after shocking figures showed an appalling rise in the number of animals being neglected.
Of the 1,043,114 animals seen by inspectors between June 2004 and May 2005 nationwide, RSPCA officers recorded a 96 per cent rise in animals that did not have access to water.
The society also reported a 90 per cent rise in the number of animals suffering because owners ignored rudimentary pet care advice.
The RSPCA said it saw a 78 per cent increase in the number of animals that were not having their basic needs met.
Dogs, supposedly the nation's favourite pet, were identified as being most of risk of neglect with the RSPCA reporting that 18,334 dogs were not receiving basic care.
Martyn Hubbard, Regional Superintendent for RSPCA Wales and West, said: "We urge the public to write to their MPs calling on them to put pressure on the Government to introduce the Animal Welfare Bill as a priority.
"Day in day out, our inspectors have to stand by and see the death or deterioration of animals at risk before the current law will allow them to intervene.
He said: "It's shameful that in a nation of animal lovers, nearly 70,000 animals were being denied the most basic of needs this year.
"Getting a new welfare offence on the statute books will, we believe, represent the most important piece of legislation affecting captive and domestic animals for almost a century."
The figures were taken from welfare assessment forms used by RSPCA inspectors every time they visit a property where an animal is suspected as suffering from abuse.
In one case, RSPCA officers rescued 23 starving dogs from a squalid house in Handsworth last year.
RSPCA Inspector Simon Davies said he was struck by the overpowering smell of ammonia, urine and faeces upon entering the house owned by Alessia Duggan, 54.
He said: "This was a difficult case as it was tragic to see a person and her animals existing in such diabolical conditions, yet all our offers of assistance were refused. We could have helped Mrs Duggan before things got so out of hand but she wouldn't allow us to.
"The Animal Welfare Bill, when enacted, would mean that if advice was given to neglectful owners they would have to act upon it, or face possible prosecution for failing to meet their animal's basic needs."
Last year, Coventry Magistrates Court heard how the RSPCA found Stella, an eight-month-old American bull- dog, tied up in the faeces-littered back yard of a property in Coventry.
She weighed ten kilos less than the normal weight of 25kg for a dog of her size, was dehydrated and was wearing an extremely tight fitting collar.
Her owners were banned from keeping any animal for two years, received a conditional discharge for two years and were ordered to pay £244 in costs and compensation.