Vets in call for tighter airgun regulations

Daisy the cat after it was shot and had to have a leg amputated
Daisy the cat after it was shot and had to have a leg amputated

ALMOST half of Wigan’s vets have treated cats with airgun injuries over the last year.

A survey by the British Veterinary Association (BVA) reveals that four in 10 surgeries have been presented with a cat who has been shot, with many of these animals seriously injured from their wounds.

Last year, there were at least four cats who had been hit with an air rifle.

A number of high-profile cat shootings have featured in the Wigan Evening Post over the past six months.

Yoda, of Marsh Green, died last July, while three-year-old Daisy, of Standish, was left with horrific injuries after being shot a few weeks later.

Another cat was also injured in Platt Bridge and ginger tom Nathan, of Ince, was also targeted by cruel yobs.

And felines were not the only animals to be hit.

Last summer, six ducks were shot at in Spring View and swans were killed with pellets.

The survey also revealed that many vets told how animals had died of their wounds or were severely injured, including fractured limbs that required amputation and injuries to eyes that require enucleation (removal of the eye).

Several vets pointed to an increase during the school summers holidays, pointing to the perpetrators being young people and children.

The news comes as Cats Protection launches its Manifesto for Cats in the Commons, which seeks amongst other measures tighter regulations on the licensing of airguns.

This coincides with the recent launch of BVA’s General Election manifesto that calls for better animal enforcement of animal welfare legislation.

John Blackwell, BVA president, said: “These findings are distressing for both owners and vets.

“Anyone using an airgun, whether they are an adult or child, should be aware of the very serious injuries these weapons inflict and parents should act responsibly when allowing any young person to use or possess one. Whether the perpetrator is an adult or child, it is blatantly wrong to shoot indiscriminately at cats in this way. We urge the police and local authorities to take action where they can.”

Cats Protection’s advocacy manager Jacqui Cuff said: “Cats Protection is always shocked to hear of cats being shot which is why we’re calling for much stricter regulation on the ownership of airguns.

“We know from our own monitoring of the press last year that nearly five cats a week were reported to have been killed or injured by airguns in the UK – and this is likely to be an underestimate.

“We also held a three-month consultation to determine what members of the public felt were the most important issues for cat welfare and 98 per cent of those surveyed agreed this is one of them - which is why we’re including this important topic in our Cat Manifesto.”

RSPCA bosses say anybody found guilty of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal can face a maximum six-month prison sentence and/or a £20,000 fine.