The number of airgun incidents reported to RSPCA Cymru is on course to be higher in 2017 than in each of the previous two years.
From the turn of the year, to the end of June, 41 incidents across Wales were reported to the charity. That compares to 58 throughout 2016, and 61 in 2015.
The new statistics are published ahead of a notoriously busy period for RSPCA Cymru officers in investigating such deliberate and cruel attacks.
If reports continue along a similar trajectory, the RSPCA can expect 82 calls in 2017 – which is also higher than the number in 2012 (46) and 2013 (66).
Calls have been made for stricter regulations around the use of airguns. Legislation was recently introduced in Scotland, meaning anyone with an airgun must have a license.
Local authority areas where reported airgun incidents have been most prominent are Conwy, and the Vale of Glamorgan, with seven apiece. In February, Rusty the cat – from Barry – died on a veterinarian’s recovery table after being shot by an air rifle. An x-ray scan revealed a pellet in the cat’s back, and – sadly – Rusty did not make it through the recovery stages following surgery.
Martyn Hubbard. RSPCA superintendent, said: “Reports of airgun attacks are so depressing – and domestic cats are so often the target, with the repercussions often fatal or causing life-changing injuries.
“Rusty from Barry was one cat who sadly lost her life because of a cruel, needless and vindictive airgun attack. That poor cat’s plight was one of 41 airgun incidents reported to the charity in 2016, with that trend indicating a big surge in incidents being brought to our attention.
“It’s so difficult to understand why anyone would carry out such mindless attacks on innocent, defenceless creatures.
“RSPCA backs calls for stricter regulations around owning an airgun. This – along with better education, and basic safety training for owners – will help protect the nation’s animals from these horrible attacks.”