'Angry, helpless' over shot cat

Outpouring of support for family from community.

Outpouring of support for family from community.

NURSED AT HOME: Jessie Clare and Bob the bob-tailed cat. Bob was shot at last week by a slug gun and it almost killed him. He is not out of the woods yet but community generosity paid his vet bill, which was one less worry for the family who own and love Bob. Picture by Paul Rickard

A GISBORNE cat shot with an air rifle has received overwhelming support from the community.

Last week the owner of one-year-old bob-tailed cat Bob found him struggling to get over a fence in her Desmond Road backyard.

She and her family had spent much of the day calling the usually punctual puss as he had not appeared for breakfast. When she went to help him, she realised he was covered in blood.

Initially the family thought it was a dog attack but an X-ray at the vet clinic revealed there was an air rifle pellet in his stomach.

An operation brought even worse news. The gun must have been high-powered, or at close range, because the pellet had burned into his stomach, which was now full of dead tissue.

Jessie Clare is the daughter of Bob’s owner and she turned to social media to make people aware of what had happened, and to warn them.

The post was shared and within a couple of days funds had been raised to cover Bob’s vet bill of $570. Ms Clare was blown away by the generosity of the community.

“We can’t believe so many people were so helpful and so nice.”

It is still “wait and see” for Bob and his recovery. He is being nursed back to health in Jessie’s room and likes the attention, but not the plastic cone he has to wear while he heals. Ms Clare said what made it so sad was that Bob was a friendly cat.

Friendly cat

“So if he was hanging around someone, I know he would have been really friendly. Then they just shoot him.

“We’re also feeling really angry because we can’t do anything about it and we just feel helpless. The police cannot do anything about it and there is nothing we can do to stop that person from doing it again.”

Eastland Veterinary Services vet Karina Wilde, who treated Bob, said air-powered firearms could be fatal for cats.

“It’s probably children shooting rather than adults but they can cause injuries and a lot of expense.”

There are three stores in Gisborne that sell the guns. You have to be 16 or over to buy one and they can be bought for anywhere from $100.

They are mainly bought for target shooting or pest control, like shooting rabbits or possums.

Hunting and Reloading Centre owner Andy Montgomery said as with any firearm, it was the people using them, not the gun.

“There are responsible people everywhere and then you get just one idiot. I mean, I am an animal lover but I’ve had people come into the shop who say the next door neighbour’s cat comes in and craps on their floor. You can see why they’re annoyed but you wouldn’t shoot it. That’s a bit severe.”

Mr Montgomery said there were so many good, responsible firearm owners out there and the reputation of guns could easily be ruined by one person.

“Most of the problems we have are with one idiot. If they are going to shoot a cat, and they haven’t got a gun, who's to say they are not going to hit it over the head with a rock?

“It’s not the guns that are the problem, it is the people who are using them. You’ve got to see both sides to the story.

“The number of families in Gisborne who feed themselves from hunting is phenomenal.”

A GISBORNE cat shot with an air rifle has received overwhelming support from the community.

Last week the owner of one-year-old bob-tailed cat Bob found him struggling to get over a fence in her Desmond Road backyard.

She and her family had spent much of the day calling the usually punctual puss as he had not appeared for breakfast. When she went to help him, she realised he was covered in blood.

Initially the family thought it was a dog attack but an X-ray at the vet clinic revealed there was an air rifle pellet in his stomach.

An operation brought even worse news. The gun must have been high-powered, or at close range, because the pellet had burned into his stomach, which was now full of dead tissue.

Jessie Clare is the daughter of Bob’s owner and she turned to social media to make people aware of what had happened, and to warn them.

The post was shared and within a couple of days funds had been raised to cover Bob’s vet bill of $570. Ms Clare was blown away by the generosity of the community.

“We can’t believe so many people were so helpful and so nice.”

It is still “wait and see” for Bob and his recovery. He is being nursed back to health in Jessie’s room and likes the attention, but not the plastic cone he has to wear while he heals. Ms Clare said what made it so sad was that Bob was a friendly cat.

Friendly cat

“So if he was hanging around someone, I know he would have been really friendly. Then they just shoot him.

“We’re also feeling really angry because we can’t do anything about it and we just feel helpless. The police cannot do anything about it and there is nothing we can do to stop that person from doing it again.”

Eastland Veterinary Services vet Karina Wilde, who treated Bob, said air-powered firearms could be fatal for cats.

“It’s probably children shooting rather than adults but they can cause injuries and a lot of expense.”

There are three stores in Gisborne that sell the guns. You have to be 16 or over to buy one and they can be bought for anywhere from $100.

They are mainly bought for target shooting or pest control, like shooting rabbits or possums.

Hunting and Reloading Centre owner Andy Montgomery said as with any firearm, it was the people using them, not the gun.

“There are responsible people everywhere and then you get just one idiot. I mean, I am an animal lover but I’ve had people come into the shop who say the next door neighbour’s cat comes in and craps on their floor. You can see why they’re annoyed but you wouldn’t shoot it. That’s a bit severe.”

Mr Montgomery said there were so many good, responsible firearm owners out there and the reputation of guns could easily be ruined by one person.

“Most of the problems we have are with one idiot. If they are going to shoot a cat, and they haven’t got a gun, who's to say they are not going to hit it over the head with a rock?

“It’s not the guns that are the problem, it is the people who are using them. You’ve got to see both sides to the story.

“The number of families in Gisborne who feed themselves from hunting is phenomenal.”

An airgun or rifle comes under the control of the Arms Act 1983, eastern district police arms officer Heather Matheson said.

“The user may only possess an airgun for lawful, proper and sufficient purposes. If used carelessly it has the potential to cause serious damage to property or persons,” she said.

Most outdoor firearms and hunting shops sell airguns, which are used for target shooting and pest control.

“However, you may only use an airgun in a place where you have the permission of the controller of that place.”

People are allowed to own an airgun if they are 18 years of age or over. If a person holds a firearms licence, they can own an airgun at 16 or 17 years old.

People under 18 who don’t have a firearms licence can only use an airgun under immediate supervision.

“This means being able to take control of the airgun you are supervising.”

If using it for target shooting there must be a backstop behind the target to stop any pellets.

Any incident reported to police potentially involving firearms is treated seriously, she said.

If police consider a person not fit or proper to have an airgun, they can issue a notice requiring the surrender of any airgun.

If the airgun looks like a pistol, restricted weapon or military-style semi-automatic, it is a “restricted airgun” and people need a special reason and permit from police to import it. Once in New Zealand it can be used and possessed like any airgun.

If the airgun is a pre-charged pneumatic air rifle a firearms licence is required.

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