It’s welcome news that the government has announced plans to review air weapon regulation in England and Wales as, unfortunately, airguns are among the dangers that your pet might face when out on their magical adventures. Airguns can cause devastating injuries to pets, and the RSPCA received 4,828 reports of incidents involving them between 1st January 2012 and 30th June 2017. As a pet owner, here’s what you need to know about the review, how airguns affect pets and what to do if your cat or dog is shot.
Why are airguns being reviewed?
These weapons may be used for a variety of purposes, such as target shooting, but they can be dangerous to both people and animals. In England and Wales, you currently don’t need a licence to own an airgun. However, in Scotland and Northern Ireland, anyone who owns, buys or uses an air weapon has to have a licence. The Home Office called for the review on air weapons licensing in England and Wales following the death of 13-year-old Benjamin Wragge, from Suffolk, and the serious injury of 18-month-old Harry Studley, from Bristol.
How does this affect your pets?
Airguns can cause devastating and often life-changing injuries to pets, such as the loss of an eye or a limb. Sometimes, these injuries can even be fatal. Cats are the domestic animal targeted most often, with 1,814 airgun incidents involving felines reported to the RSPCA between 1st January 2012 and 30th June 2017. The RSPCA also received 345 reports involving dogs. Greater London was the area that saw the most airgun incidents with animals, followed by the West Midlands and Greater Manchester. The RSPCA typically hears about more incidents involving animals shot using airguns in July and August, when lots of people are out enjoying the sunshine.
So, what do you do?
Contact your vet if your pet seems to be in pain or if you find a wound and you think it might have been caused by an airgun. Assistant Director of the RSPCA Inspectorate, Dermot Murphy, said: “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.” While it can be scary, or even tragic, if your pet is injured by an airgun, there are things you can do to deal with the perpetrator. If your pet has been targeted or shot by someone with an airgun, it’s well worth reporting the incident to the police. It’s a criminal offence to deliberately use an airgun to injure an animal, and culprits found guilty under the Animal Welfare Act could face a £20,000 fine and up to six months in prison. The RSPCA is also urging people to report incidents via their 24-hour national cruelty line on 0300 1234 999.
Here’s hoping the government’s review of airgun regulations leads to fewer animals getting shot, so our pets can continue to enjoy their adventures safely! If you think that your dog or cat might have been wounded by an airgun, be sure to get them to a vet as soon as possible so that they can be treated.
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