A THREE-year-old boy has been left devastated when his pet cat had to have a leg amputated after “sick” thugs shot it with an air rifle.
Bailey Armstrong’s cat Nemo went missing from his Hartlepool home, only to return two days later limping badly.
The youngster’s dad, Tony Armstrong, 40, took the seven-year-old feline to the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA), in Middlesbrough, believing it had suffered the injury through a fall,
X-rays showed an air rifle pellet lodged in Nemo’s shattered back right leg which was so badly damaged that vets had no other option but to amputate it.
Today Tony, a lorry driver, who lives with Bailey’s housewife mum June Grainger, 45, in Lealholm Road, off Jutland Road, branded those responsible for the cruelty as “sick”.
“It’s shocking, it’s disgusting,” said Tony.
“The people who did this are just sick, simple as that.
“To think that someone can do this to an animal is just awful.
“We tried to explain to Bailey that Nemo had lost a leg, but when we went and picked him up and he saw Nemo for the first time he was shocked.
“All his back end had been shaved and everything. It’s not nice for a young bairn to see that, it’s awful.”
He added: “The cat went missing last weekend and when he hobbled back home on the Monday morning we thought he’d hurt himself by getting caught in a bush or a fall or something because his collar was missing as well.
“But when the PDSA rang and said an air rifle pellet had been found in his leg I couldn’t believe it. They said it had completely shattered his bones.
I went straight over to the police station to report it. The vets were going to do an operation to remove the pellet, but it was too badly damaged so they had to amputate it.
“I believe it was done at close range, that’s what I’m thinking anyway.”
Nemo is now back at home with the family and their two other pet cats, and is learning to live without the leg.
Tony says he can manage to walk and jump about, but has yet to master sitting on his hind quarters to wash or use the litter tray.
“He keeps falling over,” he said. “I’m sure it’s just going to be a learning process for him.”
A spokeswoman for Cleveland Police confirmed the incident, which is believed to have happened over the weekend of October 20-22, had been reported.
PC Dawn Young, of Hartlepool Police, who is investigating the incident, said: “I was extremely shocked to hear that a poor defenceless cat was injured in such a cruel and callous way and would appeal to animal lovers to help us catch the people responsible.
“As cats can roam quite far this incident could have taken place some distance from the cat’s home and I would ask people across Hartlepool to think back as to whether they might have any information that will help.”
Anyone with any information is asked to contact PC Young on (01642) 302110, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.