Who shot Alfie?

Harriet Birch with her cat Alfie, recovering from being twice shot by an airgun. Picture: Adrian Murray. (1205032AM1)
Harriet Birch with her cat Alfie, recovering from being twice shot by an airgun. Picture: Adrian Murray. (1205032AM1)

A RIPON family has been left horrified after their pet cat was shot with an airgun causing the feline serious injuries.

Alfie was struggling to walk when he returned to the Birch family’s home on Crescent Parade after being missing for three days, and vets found his hind leg was broken in two places and two air gun pellets were lodged in his body.

An x-ray of the Birch's cat Alfie, showing the two air gun pellets and his shattered leg (S)

An x-ray of the Birch's cat Alfie, showing the two air gun pellets and his shattered leg (S)

Alfie’s owner, Harriet Birch, 17, said: “We felt awful. You just don’t expect something like this. It’s malicious that someone would shoot a pet.”

The Birchs first realised something was wrong when Alfie didn’t come home for three days in a row.

“He always goes out at night so we didn’t think anything of it, until it got to Tuesday when we started to wonder where he was,” said Harriet.

“When he came through the door he couldn’t put any weight on his leg at all – he wasn’t even walking on it. He just went straight on to the dog’s bed and lay down.

“We phoned our vet’s emergency line and took him in at about 10pm. They said he had a suspected broken leg.”

While waiting at the vets the Birchs also noticed a strange looking clump of fur and dry blood on his lower back.

It was not until the next morning when vets could x-ray Alfie’s leg that Harriet and her family found out the extent of their cat’s injuries.

An x-ray showed his back leg was broken in two places, and two air gun pellets were lodged in his body. The vet could only find one entry wound for the pellets, meaning Alfie must have been shot before and recovered on his own.

Harriet said: “When we went to see him on Wednesday afternoon, we were horrified at the state he was in. He had an external frame attached to him with three large ball-shaped extrusions coming out. He was on a drip and was clearly distressed by the events. The vet showed us the x-ray and explained that he had been previously shot by a similar gun a while ago. They were unable to remove that pellet.

“Our cat does not stray away from home much and therefore this must be someone local. It is unacceptable and something needs to be done about it to stop this happening to more people’s pets.”

Alfie’s hind leg is also shattered, leading the vet and the cat’s owners to believe he either fell from a height and broke his leg or was already injured when he was shot.

Vet Andrew Bodey, of Bishopton Veterinary Group, operated on Alfie. He said his practice had seen cases where cats have been shot by air guns before.

“This was a particularly nasty injury which left Alfie in a great deal of pain and distress. We are just thankful that he managed to make his way home so that he could be treated,” he said.

“Unfortunately this is not the first case of this kind we have encountered, although we very much hope it will be the last. While we are confident Alfie will make a full recovery in time, previous victims have not been so lucky – with one cat losing its eye in a similar attack.”

Harriet and her family have reported the attack to the police, who are investigating.

A spokesman for North Yorkshire Police said: “This is despicable and the sooner we catch the offenders the better for everyone involved.”

Anyone with information is urged to contact the police by phoning 101, selecting option two, and asking for PC Christopher Hill or Ripon Police.