RSPCA fears 2017 could see airgun attacks on animals reach record levels

The number of airgun attacks on animals in the West Midlands could reach record levels this year, the RSPCA has warned.

In 2016 the animal charity received 41 calls, but it has received 38 already this year.

If the current rate continues, it will eclipse the figure in 2015 when 50 reports were made.

Nationally, the RSPCA has already received more than 470 calls about such incidents in the first six months of the year, compared to 455 during the same period in 2016.

The charity is now backing calls for stricter regulations around the use of airguns, following the introduction of legislation in Scotland which now means that anyone with an airgun must have a licence.

Dermot Murphy, assistant director of the RSPCA Inspectorate, said: “It is a depressing fact that every year hundreds of victims of airgun attacks are reported to the RSPCA. While wild animals are often victims, the most targeted animal is domestic cats that often suffer fatal or life-changing injuries.

“We receive hundreds of calls from devastated cat owners every year after they discover their beloved pets have been shot. Often it isn’t until the x-rays reveal the pellets still lodged in the animal’s body that it becomes clear what they have been subjected to.

“It often leaves the victim with life-changing injuries, such as the lost of an eye, or even requiring the amputation of a limb. In some tragic instances, the injuries even prove fatal.

“It is difficult to understand how anyone could carry out these mindless attacks on innocent animals and we are backing calls for stricter regulations around owning an airgun. This, along with better education and explanation of the law when buying an air gun, and requirements that everyone must receive basic safety training before being allowed to walk out of the shop could help relieve the problem.”

Last year, the RSPCA received 890 calls about airgun attacks from across the UK to its 24-hour cruelty hotline.

“July and August, when the days are longer and people are out and about more, are typically some of the busiest months for RSPCA inspectors investigating incidents of animals shot by people using airguns,” added Dermot.

“It is a worrying sign that there could be a rise in the number of calls reporting animals that have been shot by people using air weapons.

“People need to remember the devastating consequences for both pets and their owners. Behind these statistics there are hundreds of animals that have been subjected to horrible amounts of pain and suffering.”

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