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RSPCA Cymru issues appeal after “senseless” death of cat shot by air rifle

The animal welfare charity is investigating following the shooting in Port Talbot

The RSPCA has condemned the person responsible for the “cruel and senseless” death of a two-year-old cat called Morse, who died after being shot with an air rifle in Duffryn Rhondda.

Elena Lee’s much-loved pet died on 3 September during surgery to remove two pellets from his stomach after he was shot near his owner’s home in Afan Road. The vet was able to get in touch with Elena because Morse, who had unusually not returned home the previous evening, had been microchipped.

The friendly black and white cat, who Elena adopted as a kitten, was found injured in grass near his home by one of her neighbours, who rushed him to a vet. The RSPCA, which is urging other pet owners in the area to be vigilant, says it is “beyond comprehension” that someone would target an innocent animal in this way – and continues to call for more regulation linked to the use of air weapons and rifles.

Elena said: “Morse would usually be waiting for me at the house when I got home from work, so when he wasn’t there on 2 September, I started to worry. I registered him as missing on a number of local sites and told my neighbours, who were very fond of him, to keep a lookout.

“He was such a unique, friendly cat; we had such a special bond and he had been a huge support to me over the years. I really just don’t have the words right now, I am devastated to have lost him in this way and am struggling to understand how anyone could do this.”

RSPCA deputy chief inspector Gemma Black is investigating the shooting and has urged people with information to come forward. She said: “It is beyond comprehension that anyone thinks it’s acceptable to take pot shots at innocent animals. Unfortunately, cruel and senseless attacks like this are not uncommon. The injuries caused by these weapons are horrific and often fatal, and many pet owners like Elena are left totally bereft as a result.”

“We would urge anyone who saw this incident, or perhaps heard people talking about what they had done, to contact our inspectorate appeal line on 0300 123 8018.”

Morse’s death is one of an alarming number of reports that have been received by the RSPCA about animals being targeted by air weapons and rifles over the last 20 months – despite lockdown and Covid-19 restrictions keeping people at home for long periods.

Since the beginning of 2020, more than 370 incidents have been reported to the animal welfare charity from callers who believe an air gun or rifle has been used to target an animal. However, the number is likely to be even higher than this – as often X-rays sadly reveal pellet wounds or bullets after the RSPCA has intervened when an animal has been found in distress.

Cats and wildlife are normally the animals that are most susceptible to attacks because they are out in the open with no one to protect them.

The RSPCA wants stricter regulations around owning an air weapon in both England and Wales. Better education, basic safety training for owners and a thorough explanation of the law – including our legal obligations towards animals – could help protect countless pets and wildlife from these horrible attacks in the future.