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Stop shooting animals plea

A campaign has been launched to stop illegal airgun use against birds and animals.

The RSPCA is acting after new figures reveal it gets at least one call a week from distraught owners in the region whose pets have been blasted by pellets.

The campaign follows a plea for greater control of the weapons from a leading Wigan vet.

Earlier this month, Anrich Veterinary Hospital's Dr Shams Mir was forced to operate to save a Wigan cat which had been shot in the head.

The charity now says that it is "gravely concerned" about the scourge of airgun attacks on animals which is leaving pets and wild birds maimed or killed.

The most common targets are pet cats, wild birds and water birds, although wild mammals and dogs are also regularly killed or injured by air guns.

Last year, the RSPCA received almost 200 calls regarding airgun incidents across the North West.

Wigan regional superintendent of the RSPCA David Millard said that "mindless airgun attacks" on pets and wildlife was a "serious and worsening" problem.

He fears that the figures only provided a "snapshot" of the scale of the cruelty involved.

The RSPCA believes there needs to be more publicity warning of the recent law change which has banned under-18s from possession of an airgun without supervision.

He said: "The society is appealing to parents not to buy their child an airgun unless they are prepared and willing to supervise them at all times.

"Many more animals are suffering needless pain and death that we are unaware of.

"Air pellet entry wounds are especially difficult to detect by the untrained eye and, sadly, not all incidents are reported to us or witnessed.

"We are now appealing to the public to help prevent unnecessary suffering to countless animals by reporting

any witnessed incidents to us or the police.

"We can then do everything in our power to prosecute the individuals responsible which may, in turn, deter any others."

Wigan vet Dr Mir, of Anrich in Wallgate, hopes that parents will take greater responsibility in not buying such weapons for teenage children as presents in the first place, after he was called on to treat long-haired domestic tomcat Salem.

He said: "Its very worrying to contemplate what that gun, used to shoot at Salem, is going to target next."