Owners of cats which have died or suffered shocking injuries following a spate of air gun shootings in June have joined Cats Protection to call for a change in the law.
The horrific incidents included a cat that died after being shot at point blank range in the face and a pair of pet cats that have been shot on three separate occasions within three months.
The cats were all victims of random attacks using air guns, weapons which can be owned without the need to hold a licence in England and Wales by anyone over the age of 18.
Cats Protection, the UK’s largest cat welfare charity, says the lack of regulation means lethal air guns are frequently falling into the wrong hands, resulting in cats becoming victims of brutal attacks.
Horrific cases this month include:
Tragic Fred was shot in the face at point blank range and was later put to sleep as a result of the appalling injuries he sustained.
The attack, in Mansfield Woodhouse, Nottinghamshire, on June 9 left owner Denise Thompson too traumatised to discuss. Her daughter Christie Conroy said: “Mum came home to find Fred in the garden with blood dripping from his mouth, it was just a truly awful sight. She rushed him to a vet not knowing what was wrong with him and later in the day she learnt he had been shot, as the bullet showed up on the X-ray.
The vet said he had a shattered jaw and was in a great deal of pain. There was no choice other than to have him put to sleep to end his suffering. His death has left a huge hole in my mum’s life. She had taken him in as a stray and he was so well-loved, he was her company and a constant companion. It was such a pointless and senseless attack on a defenceless animal, and my mum is really struggling with the memory of finding him in such a state and living without him. I was shocked when I found out such deadly weapons are not licenced in England and Wales. It makes me shudder to think that anyone can buy an air gun and inflict such harm on an animal, or a person for that matter.”
Cookie and Thor
Karen Clarkson has made the devastating decision to keep her two cats indoors at all times after they were shot with an airgun three times in the space of just three months. Seven-year-old Cookie needed surgery for an infected wound when she was shot in the back in March. Three months later in June, one-year-old Thor also needed vet treatment after he was shot in his shoulder. Less than two weeks later, he suffered a fractured rib following a third shooting on June 19. Karen, of Derby, said: “Both the cats don’t venture very far, they stay fairly close to home, and it’s horrible to think that something like this can happen in your own neighbourhood. They are lovely, gentle cats and it’s heart-breaking that someone would do something so cruel and callous. In Cookie’s case, we thought she’d been in a cat fight as she had a wound on her back, and in Thor’s case, we noticed a lump on his shoulder and were worried he had cancer. We were stunned when the vet said he had found air gunpellets in both of them. It’s unbelievable that anyone can own air guns like this, and I think most people would be very concerned if they knew that these weapons are so freely available.”
Jem Ten-month-old kitten
Jem is recovering after being shot in the leg with an air gun in Hove, Sussex, on June 3.
Owner Katie Fowler said: “We could see Jem had an injury on her leg but it was only after she had an x-ray that the vet told us she had a pellet from an air gun embedded into her flesh. She is still a young kitten and was in a lot of pain. I am appalled that anyone over 18 can walk into a shop and buy one of these weapons without any checks or accountability.
These are weapons which can kill or maim, and there are clearly people who will happily use them to take shots at animals, so they must be regulated. It’s time England and Wales caught up with the rest of the UK and introduced licencing for such dangerous weapons.”
Currently, only Scotland and Northern Ireland have laws in place ensuring that anyone who possesses, purchases, acquires or uses an air gun must have a licence.
Cats Protection has been campaigning for a change in the law for similar regulation to be introduced in England and Wales. Last month, the charity presented a petition containing 110,000 signatures to Prime Minister Theresa May to press for urgent action to be taken on air guns.
Cats Protection’s Head of Advocacy & Government Relations Jacqui Cuff said: “This month we have seen some particularly horrific attacks on cats by individuals using airguns. These attacks cause a huge amount of physical pain to cats and a great deal of emotional suffering to their owners. It’s also greatly troubling to the wider community to know there are individuals capable of carrying out such cruel and senseless violence towards a defenceless animal.
“We know from our monitoring that reported air gun attacks on cats are consistently lower in Northern Ireland. We also know that since air gun licensing came into force in Scotland, reported attacks on cats are declining. With 90% of reported attacks on cats now happening in England and Wales, it’s time to bring in licencing so cats – and people – get the same protection throughout the UK.
To find out more about the campaign, please visit www.cats.org.uk/airgunspetition