A FORCES veteran has been left devastated after suspected arsonists torched an aviary killing the 25 birds inside.
The yobs struck at the rear of the man’s home in Toward Road, Hendon, in the early hours.
All of the birds – a mixture of budgies, canaries and finches – died in the attack, while the aviary, which was in the back yard of the property, was destroyed.
Two crews from Sunderland Central fire station rushed to the scene to put out the blaze.
Detectives have confirmed they are hoping to catch those responsible.
The 62-year-old owner of the birds, who did not want to be named, told the Echo he has been caring for the animals as a way of coping with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which he developed after serving in the army.
The man, who served in Northern Ireland during the Troubles of the 1970s, said today: “I just can’t understand why anyone would do this.”
The man was sleeping when the arsonists struck at about 5am yesterday.
Fire ripped through the 7ft hand-built wooden structure, killing all of the birds inside.
“I was woken up by the fire, but I’ve got no idea who started it,” said the victim.
“Quite a few people around here know I keep birds even though I only moved here in April last year.
“I’ve kept them for years because they help with my PTSD. I’m usually tending to them for a few hours every day.”
The man added that he does not now want to care for birds in the future after being traumatised at losing the 25 pets in the attack.
“I can’t understand why someone would do it,” he said. “It’s sickened me.
“The point is if somebody wanted them in the first place, if they were that desperate for pet birds, I’d have given some to them.”
Two firefighters wearing breathing apparatus put out the fire, while two hose reels and a positive pressure ventilation system was used to disperse the smoke from the yard.
The fire also spread to two nearby properties, but they are not believed to have been seriously damaged.
A spokesman for Northumbria Police, said: “At 5.48am on Wednesday, police received a report from the fire service about a property on fire in Toward Road in Sunderland. Inquiries into this incident are ongoing.”
Anyone with information on the suspected arson is asked to call Northumbria Police on 101.