Manila: A northern Philippines couple was on Thursday charged with child abuse and violating animal rights laws in connection with gruesome internet videos featuring young girls torturing and killing pets.

Vicente and Dorma ‘Chita' Ridon also face charges of human trafficking and violating wildlife protection laws in a case filed by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) over the ‘animal crush videos' the couple uploaded on their website.

The Ridons allegedly maintain a site where clients, in exchange for a fee, can download videos of animals such as mice, rabbits, cats and dogs being tortured — sometimes to the point of death.

Most of the people who view the videos do it to entertain themselves. Rochelle Regodon, Peta's campaigns manager in Asia, said that Peta, in partnership with the NBI, had been tracking down the Ridons for a year prior to the NBI's raid on the couple's house in Burgos town, La Union province, last Tuesday.

The couple, according to Peta, were granted bail. They are expected to face trial within the year.

"The vicious disregard for animals... shown in these sadistic videos must be severely punished," Regodon said.

"This is a warning to anyone [harbouring intentions of cruelly treating animals]. The public takes it seriously and will do all it can to see justice served."

The ‘crush' videos depict extreme cruelty to animals. In one of the videos, a rabbit was shown while being skinned alive and having its ears cut off.

Other videos show a dog being burnt with an iron while a monkey and several other dogs are repeatedly hit in the eye with sharp heels. Another video shows puppies being crushed to the point of vomiting their own internal organs.

Last July, two lawmakers — Irwin Tieng and Mariano Michael Velarde of the Buhay partylist — filed a motion to penalise people producing footage of animal cruelty in a bid to deter the practice.

Tieng said animal crush videos catered to those with sexual fetishes.