Airgun attacks on animals in Northamptonshire is set to reach a five-year high, the RSPCA has claimed.
The animal charity has recorded a spike in calls across the country involving animals being shot, with 470 incidents in the first six months of the year, compared to 455 during the same period in 2016.
In Northamptonshire, eight calls have so far been received involving deliberate airgun attacks against animals this, compared to 10 attacks in total for the whole of 2016.
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.”
In 2015, 19 animals attacks involving airguns were reported to the RSPCA.
The penalties faced if caught deliberately using an airgun to injure an animal can be up to six months in prison and/or a £20,000 fine if found guilty under the Animal Welfare Act.
Incidents in which an animal has been shot or targeted by someone using an airgun should be reported to the RSPCA’s national cruelty line on 0300 1234 999.