Police launch investigation after cruel woodland shootings

POLICE have launched an investigation following a succession of cat shootings in Bratton Fleming.

In the latest attack earlier this month, an animal was lucky to escape with its life after a cruel gun owner blasted it with a shotgun from point blank range.

Couple Philip Martin and Rebecca Townsend said black British Shorthair “Bilbo” went missing for two days from their home in Church Close before turning up on their doorstep in a distressed state on November 3.

Mr Martin, 41, said vets initially thought his pet had been run over until x-rays revealed otherwise.

“The force of the shot broke Bilbo’s hip and shattered his front left leg,” he said.

“It must have been a fairly close-range shot as the entry wounds were all close together; one went right through his shoulder and came out the other side and missed his heart by only half a centimetre or so.”

Bilbo is now making a slow recovery at home and the couple hope the animal, a pet to their three young children, will regain use of his leg.

“We were completely shocked that someone could do something like that,” said partner Miss Townsend, 34.

“It’s amazing that something so tiny could survive an attack like that.”

Police said a similar incident was reported a stone’s throw away from the couple’s home on October 17 last year.

“During the last year, two cats have been shot in the same woodland area that backs onto a cul-de-sac of homes in Bratton Fleming,” said PCSO Gareth Woolway.

“The incidents are being investigated as cruelty and criminal damage offences. In the latest attack, the animal sustained a broken hip and shattered leg and cost the owner around £1,000 in vet bills, not to mention the emotional distress it has caused the entire family.

“Bilbo is quite obviously in a lot of pain with his injury but is coping due to the fact that he is heavily sedated.

“Suspicions are that the cat was shot in the woods to the rear of the property in question. We have conducted house-to-house enquiries but so far have proved negative. The cat is pure black so you would expect it to stick out. This means that it could be malicious.”

PCSO Woolway said the animal in the first attack received similar injuries but had a leg amputated, costing owners around £800 to treat.

“We don’t think these animals were shot accidentally and want to raise awareness of the incidents,” he added.

“We are appealing for witnesses to the event and also anyone who may have any information regarding suspicious ‘goings on’ within the area.

“We would also like to warn other cat owners in the area to remain extra vigilant.”

Anyone with any information can call police on 08452 777 444 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.