We're caring for a young cat shot with airgun


Staff at our Putney Animal Hospital are caring for a young cat who was shot in the back leg by someone using an airgun.

Tinkerbell the black cat © RSPCA

Poor Tinkerbell was found earlier this month by a member of the public in the Neasden area of London. She was taken to our Putney Animal Hospital.

Tinkerbell had a complex fracture in her back leg, which required a plate to pin the shattered femur. She's currently on cage rest to let her injury to heal.

Despite her horrific ordeal Tinkerbell is doing well. Staff describe her as a very sweet and affectionate little cat. Sadly she was not microchipped.

Caroline Allen, the director of our London Hospitals, said:

Poor little Tinkerbell came into us after being found by a member of the public. When we x-rayed her back leg we discovered the pellet.

It's really upsetting to think that this sweet girl was caused so much pain as a result of someone callously shooting her.

She's had to have extensive surgery, but despite everything she's been through she's still very friendly.  She’s now on cage rest and we hope we can move her to a foster home soon.

Hundreds of air gun incidents reported every year

Xray of tinkerbell the cat © RSPCA

Tinkerbell’s shooting is sadly just one of hundreds of air gun incidents reported to us every year.

We're calling for mandatory licensing of airguns in England and Wales, after receiving 4,500 calls in five years (1 January 2013 to 31 December 2017) about attacks on animals using airguns.

We'll be giving the recommendation as part of a submission to the UK Governments' current review on the regulation of air weapons. This follows two serious incidents involving children.

Now we want to see England and Wales follow the lead of Scotland, where airgun owners and users have been required to have a licence since 1 January 2017.

In 2017 we received 884 calls reporting air gun attacks on animals.

Review of legislation covering the use and manufacture of air weapons

Her Majesty’s Senior Coroner for Suffolk, Dr Peter Dean, wrote to the Home Office requesting a review of the legislation covering the use and manufacture of air weapons, following the death of a 13-year-old boy in May 2016 after he was accidentally shot with an air weapon.

David Bowles, our assistant director of external affairs, said:

The review around the regulation of air weapons is welcomed by the RSPCA and we hope our submission to the Government will help demonstrate the scale of calls to us every year and remind the Government it's important to protect animals as well as people.

It's heartbreaking that such a tragic incident has sparked this review and our thoughts go out to Benjamin’s family and friends, but we hope that any future regulation of these weapons in England and Wales will better protect people and animals.

The RSPCA has long been calling for stricter controls over airguns as well as better education and explanation of the law for those buying one. Our 24-hour cruelty hotline receives hundreds of calls every year reporting airgun attacks on animals.

Animals can suffer horrendous injuries and often die as a result of airgun attacks, and these weapons are potentially extremely dangerous for people as well.

We and the British Association for Shooting & Conservation plan to stage a joint conference this spring. We plan to bring together key stakeholders from industry, the police, animal charities and more to try to identify the scale of the problem and find practical solutions.

Air gun attacks around the country in 2017

  1. West Midlands = 54
  2. Kent = 51
  3. Greater London = 49
  4. Greater Manchester = 47
  5. West Yorkshire = 46
  6. Essex = 29
  7. Nottinghamshire = 29
  8. South Yorkshire = 28
  9.  Staffordshire = 27
  10. Cheshire = 26
  11. North Yorkshire = 24

In 2017 we received calls alleging attacks on 519 wild birds, 341 cats, 125 wild mammals and 111 dogs, amongst others.

The penalties faced if caught deliberately using an airgun to injure an animal can be up to six months in prison and/or an unlimited fine if found guilty under the Animal Welfare Act.

Legislation in Scotland and Northern Ireland requires anyone who possesses, purchases or uses an air weapon to have a licence.

Incidents in which an animal has been shot or targeted by someone using an airgun should report it our national cruelty line on 0300 1234 999.

Read more about our work to end animal cruelty.

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