Cat owners across Wearside are being urged to be vigilant after a series of horrific attacks on pets.
Both Northumbria Police and RSPCA officials have been alerted to “incredibly distressing” acts of cruelty in recent days.
These have included:
* A cat kicked to death in Caldew Court, Houghton, on Sunday, September 10.
* A kitten being shot by air rifle in Grindon Park on Thursday, September 14.
* A cat killed after being shot in Belstone Court, Silksworth, on Wednesday.
I am absolutely disgusted that someone could actually do something like that to a little cute kittenSophie Tuncsik
* Reports of other cats being injured or going missing in the west of the city.
Police say they are keeping an open mind as to whether the attacks are connected.
Horrified pet owner Sophie Tuncsik, 30, had her ten-month-old kitten Nico shot in Grindon Park.
Sophie, who is mum to eight-year-old Aleese, had let Nico and his brother Boo out on the lawn when he was attacked.
She said: “He couldn’t walk on his back leg and was limping on three legs.
“I took him to the vet and he had broken his leg quite severely.”
An x-ray confirmed that Nico had been shot. Thankfully, after undergoing surgery to remove the airgun pellet and repair his leg with metal pins and plates, his leg was saved.
Sophie added: “He was only out for an hour-and-a-half and some horrible, vile person has shot him. I don’t think it was a daft child either, because it was during school hours. It was probably an adult.
“I am absolutely disgusted that someone could actually do something like that to a little cute kitten.
“There are seven or eight cats in our street and we also have dogs, foxes and hedgehogs. I would hate for anything to happen to them.”
Neighbourhood Inspector Tony Carty said: “We know that cat owners will find these incidents incredibly distressing and I would like to reassure them we are working with the RSPCA and doing all we can to identify those responsible and will take appropriate action against anyone who unlawfully injures or kills and animal.
“We’re keeping an open mind as to whether these incidents are linked or an awful coincidence and would ask anyone who has information that can help with our enquiries to get in contact.”
An RSPCA spokesperson said: “These are horrible acts of cruelty and the RSPCA has been working with police on their investigation.
“It is a depressing fact that every year hundreds of victims of airgun attacks are reported to the RSPCA. While wild animals are often victims, the most targeted animal is domestic cats that often suffer fatal or life-changing injuries.
“It often leaves the victim with life-changing injuries, such as the lost of an eye, or even requiring the amputation of a limb. In some tragic instances, the injuries even prove fatal.
“It is difficult to understand how anyone could carry out these mindless attacks on innocent animals and we are backing calls for stricter regulations around owning an airgun.
“This, along with better education and explanation of the law when buying an air gun, and requirements that everyone must receive basic safety training before being allowed to walk out of the shop could help relieve the problem.”
Any witnesses or anyone with information should ring Northumbria Police on 101 or alternatively ring Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.