South Yorkshire 'one of worst areas in country' for horror air gun attacks on animals
A charity is calling for tighter controls on air guns after it was revealed South Yorkshire has one of the highest rates of attacks on animals in the country.
Yobs armed with air weapons shot animals on 28 occasions across Sheffield, Doncaster, Barnsley and Rotherham in 2017 - placing the area as the seventh highest in the UK.
This includes cat Clyde who was shot five times with an air gun in Sheffield last April.
The pet's owner Karen Frudd, of Stocksbridge, described the attacker as a "horrible person" and added her cat "will never be able to enjoy the outside world anymore because one of the bullets damaged his leg."
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals revealed the problem is widespread as the charity received 4, 500 calls in five years reporting air gun attacks on animals across the country.
The charity is now calling for mandatory licensing of air guns in England and Wales. The RSPCA said it was time other parts of the UK followed the lead of Scotland, where air gun owners have been required to have a licence since January 1 last year.
They made the plea after Suffolk coroner Dr Peter Dean wrote to the Home Office requesting a review of legislation covering the use and manufacture of air weapons, following the death of 13-year-old Ben Wragge in May 2016 after he was accidentally shot with an air weapon.
The RSPCA will be giving the recommendation as part of the legislation review.
David Bowles, the RSPCA's assistant director of external affairs, said: “It is heartbreaking that such a tragic incident has sparked this review and our thoughts go out to Benjamin’s family and friends, but we hope that any future regulation of these weapons in England and Wales will better protect people and animals.
“The RSPCA has long been calling for stricter controls over airguns as well as better education and explanation of the law for those buying one. Our 24-hour cruelty hotline receives hundreds of calls every year reporting airgun attacks on animals.
“Animals can suffer horrendous injuries and often die as a result of air gun attacks and these weapons are potentially extremely dangerous for people as well.”
The RSPCA and British Association for Shooting & Conservation plan to stage a joint conference this spring to look at ways of tackling the problem.
The penalties faced if caught deliberately using an air gun to injure an animal can be up to six months in prison and/or an unlimited fine if found guilty under the Animal Welfare Act.
1 West Midlands - 54
2 Kent - 51
3 Greater London - 49
4 Greater Manchester - 47
5 West Yorkshire - 46
6 Essex - 29
6 Nottinghamshire - 29
7 South Yorkshire - 28
8 Staffordshire - 27
9 Cheshire - 26
10 North Yorkshire - 24