Shocking new figures released by the RSPCA have revealed that over 150 animals have been targeted in airgun attacks across Lancashire over the past five years.
And Lancashire features prominently in the top 10 of counties appearing seventh nationally for reports of the cruel attacks.
The news comes as year-to-date figures show a worrying rise in the numbers of airgun attacks on animals across the nation.
RSPCA bosses say that reported instances of the attacks look set to reach a new 5-year high with more than 470 calls made to the charity in the first six months of this year.
The figures have been released at one of the busiest times of the year for animal welfare inspectors investigating these deliberate attacks, says the charity.
Dermot Murphy, Assistant Director of the RSPCA Inspectorate said: “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.
“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.”
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 a total of 890 calls nationally to their 24-hour cruelty hotline reporting airgun attacks.
By far the highest number of the 4,828 airgun incidents reported to the RSPCA between 1 January 2012 and 30 June 2017 were about wild birds (2,003) and cats (1,814). This is followed by wild mammals (349), dogs (345) and farm birds (104).
In April a cat has lost his leg after he was shot six times in a brutal air gun attack in Accrington.