RSPCA Calls For Stricter Air Gun Controls After 767 Animal Shootings Were Reported Last Year
Their records also showed that cats bore the brunt of the shootings with 258 incidents reported last year, while pigeons came second with 112 incidents.
According to the charity's data, the counties recording the most incidents for animals being shot by air guns last year were Greater London (38), Greater Manchester (36), Kent (35), West Midlands (33) and South Yorkshire (28).
The RSPCA is repeating its call for stricter controls on airguns as incidents rise during summer months.
Dermot Murphy, RSPCA Chief Inspectorate Officer said: "Animals are suffering horrendous injuries and often dying as a result of air gun attacks and these weapons are also potentially extremely dangerous for people.
"Every one of the 258 pet cats and 73 dogs deliberately killed or maimed last year by people using airguns represents a devastated family. And the cruelty continues, with large numbers of wild mammals and birds, including foxes, squirrels, swans, gulls and pigeons targeted as well."
He added: "We believe air gun misuse is happening on a large scale and what we see at the RSPCA could be the tip of the iceberg. We believe that stricter controls are long overdue.
"Mandatory licensing would be an effective start, but we also need improved enforcement of air gun legislation as well as better, more targeted education and explanation of the law for those buying one."
The animal charity often has to put out appeals about pets being terrorised by the weapons.
Last January, QT, a seven-year-old Siamese cat, returned to her home in Chelmsford with a wound on her side and her worried owner Hedy Gordon immediately rushed her to the vet.
After the vets discovered a pellet lodged in her body, QT was rushed into surgery to remove the shrapnel and kept in for observation before being discharged.
QT's owner Hedy said: "When she first came home with her injury I never imagined that it would have been as a result of being shot.
"It's just horrifying to think that someone has deliberately done this to a defenseless animal. The vets believe that because of the way the pellet entered her it was likely she had been shot at close range too. Who on earth would want to do this?
"Thankfully she seems to be recovering, but I am still very worried for her and I want to warn other pet owners in the area that this has happened and ask them to be vigilant."
But QT's injury isn't an isolated event as nearly half of vets, who replied to a BVA survey in 2016, said they had treated cats which had been victims of air gun crime and nearly half those incidents had proved fatal.
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