Elderly cat blasted with air gun in sickening Doncaster attack as RSPCA launch probe

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An urgent RSPCA investigation has been launched after a 16-year-old cat belonging to an elderly couple was blasted in a sickening air gun attack in Doncaster.

16-year-old Darwin, a black male cat, and much-loved pet of pensioners Lesley and James McCulloch, was shot with an air gun near their home in New Rossington last month.

The couple realised something was wrong when Darwin didn’t come home at night as usual.

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The next day - May 11 - Darwin finally came home but he was limping and evidently in pain.

Darwin is recovering in his cage after being blasted by an air gun.Darwin is recovering in his cage after being blasted by an air gun.
Darwin is recovering in his cage after being blasted by an air gun.

Lesley said: “We took him to the vets and they gave him antibiotics and ibuprofen, thinking he had maybe been in a cat fight - but he didn’t get any better so we went back to the vets the next week.

"When the vet examined him they could hear a clicking noise in his right front leg so they carried out an X-ray to check if it was broken.”

Shockingly, the x-ray not only showed Darwin’s leg was broken but that he had an air gun pellet lodged in his leg.

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Lesley added: “When the vet phoned me up and said he had been shot, I was so shocked and my immediate thought was well, who has a licence for a gun near us?

Darwin's leg was broken after he was shot with an air gun.Darwin's leg was broken after he was shot with an air gun.
Darwin's leg was broken after he was shot with an air gun.

"We know Darwin only explores our street and the next one over, but the vet told me you don’t need a licence for an airgun - so that was the end of that.”

“Even if you don’t like cats, you don’t go around shooting them!”

Every year the RSPCA receives almost 1,000 calls to investigate cases and help hundreds of animals that are the victims of air gun attacks – and officers are now investigating the Doncaster shooting.

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Cats and wildlife are the animals most susceptible to being shot simply because they are out in the open with no one to protect them.

X-rays revealed the air gun pellet in Darwin's leg.X-rays revealed the air gun pellet in Darwin's leg.
X-rays revealed the air gun pellet in Darwin's leg.

Unfortunately, air rifle attacks are not as rare as the charity would like. The injuries caused by such attacks can be horrific and often fatal.

The charity is now appealing for anyone with information to get in touch with them.

If you saw or heard anything unusual around Bondfield Avenue, New Rossington, on the evening of 10 May, please contact the RSPCA’s inspectorate appeal line on 0300 123 8018.

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RSPCA inspector Jack Taylor said: “It’s understandably been very distressing for Darwin’s owners to learn that their cat has been shot and it’s caused considerable pain to poor Darwin himself.

“It is always very distressing to think that people may be taking pleasure in causing such horrific injuries to defenceless animals.

“We want to see a world where every kind of animal is treated with compassion and respect and deliberate and brutal acts of cruelty should be consigned to the past.

"We continue to call for tighter controls on air weapons. 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.”

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Darwin is now two weeks into his six-week cage rest and still has a lot of healing to do.

Lesley explained: “Darwin is such a handsome, lovely lad, but he’s very miserable and fed-up at the moment whilst he’s on cage-rest.

“What’s been really tough is that we have pet insurance for Darwin but it wouldn’t cover us for the full cost of surgery. Surgery would have been £3,000 and we’re both pensioners, we just couldn’t afford that.

"The next best thing was to have a sock put on his leg and to put him on cage-rest which allows the leg to heal but as Darwin is so used to going out, he’s miserable being cooped up.”

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The cost of living crisis is one of the biggest challenges facing animal welfare, and the RSPCA, right now and many pet owners are struggling to afford vet care costs.

For owners who need a little extra help, visit the RSPCA’s Cost of Living Hub or find out more about our pet food bank partnership which gave out 1.5million pet meals last year.

This year, the RSPCA hopes to inspire one million acts of kindness for animals to celebrate its 200th anniversary. To find out your kind of kindness and turn it into action for animals visit: rspca.org.uk/everykind

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