The RSPCA is calling for the licencing of air guns, as new figures reveal that the animal charity received 7671 reports of animals being shot in 2018 across England and Wales, with 87 of these reports coming from the East of England alone.
The RSPCA’s records also showed that pet cats bore the brunt of the shootings with 258 incidents in 2018 with pigeons coming second with 112 incidents.
Dermot Murphy, RSPCA Chief Inspectorate Officer said: “During last year alone, we received 7671 reports of attacks where air guns were used on animals across England and Wales. Animals are suffering horrendous injuries and often dying as a result of airgun attacks and these weapons are also potentially extremely dangerous for people.”
“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.”
James Yeates, chief veterinary officer at RSPCA said:
“Cats and wildlife are often the target of air rifle attacks, simply because they are out in the open with no one to protect them. These attacks are often deliberate by people who just don’t care about hurting animals or deliberately targeting animals to keep them away from gardens.
An example of one such case is QT, a Siamese cat, from the Howe Green area of Chelmsford who returned home on Thursday 3rd January with a pellet which had gone through her left side, travelled through her liver, narrowly missing her ribcage and lodged in the opposite side. Luckily she survived the ordeal but police have been unsuccessful in their search for the assailant.
At a first glance, air guns and rifles appear harmless, when actuality if they are misused they can become potentially deadly weapons. They use the expanding force of compressed air to propel a projectile down a barrel. The projectiles are usually lead pellets or ball bearings and if an unlucky pellet penetrate the head, neck, or chest the result can be fatal. You must be 18 to purchase these arms, however, with adult supervision children as young as 14 can fire an airgun.
A chilling example of airgun abuse is six year old Stanley Metcalf who died on July 26, 2018, after his great-grandfather accidentally fired an airgun pellet into his stomach. A Government review into the use of airguns after the death of a boy concluded 18 months ago but has yet to report its conclusions and recommendations so as of yet you do not need a license in England and Wales to own most airguns.