Those who dismiss the horrific attacks on cats in our community as no worse than the crimes of theft and vandalism ought to think again.
While the sentences handed out to those who abuse animals are often lower than those who dump rubbish, there is a growing body of evidence that suggests people who take pleasure from inflicting pain on animals are more likely to go on to do the same to their fellow man.
Earlier this year, Labour MP Stephen Kinnock even went as far as demanding a register of all animal abusers claiming it could prevent them from committing violent crimes in the future.
If there is a direct link between animal abuse and violence against people, then we have every right to be concerned about the attacks in our community.
The level of violence is sickening.
As we reveal today, cats have been targeted in Sunderland, including one animal being kicked to death in the street.
Police have not ruled out the chance that all these attack on cats have been perpetrated by the same individual.
Whether by an individual or more than one person, those responsible need to be caught and punished.
If anyone has information about the attackers they should inform the authorities at the earliest opportunity.
There is every reason to believe someone knows who the perpetrators are, particularly the individual who is using an air rifle to shoot harmless pets.
The attacks can’t be dismissed as minor offences. They are not only extremely upsetting for the pets’ owners and community as a whole but, as some research suggests, a potential trigger for more serious violence to come.
They must be caught.