Colin Poultney holds his cat TJ, whose leg was amputated after he was shot with an air rifle. Photo / Sam Ackland, Bay of Plenty Times.
A furious Tauranga family are demanding justice after an air rifle attack on their beloved cat left it with three legs.
Lyn Poultney said the family's 4-year-old ginger cat TJ first went missing from their Darraghs Rd, Otumoetai home about a fortnight ago.
When TJ limped home four days later, Mrs Poultney realised something was wrong.
"He was dragging his front right leg. At first we thought a dog had bitten him."
She took him to their vet, who told her the bone was shattered in the cat's leg and the leg would have to be amputated.
"The vet rang back in the afternoon and said TJ hadn't been bit by a dog - he'd been shot, at close range."
The shooting was uncovered after a shard of a lead air rifle pellet was pulled from TJ's wound.
"It was either a slug gun or a BB gun, "Mrs Poultney said.
"You could tell it was shot at close range by looking at the x-ray - you could see where the bits of bone had been smashed by the bullet.
"When I heard she'd been shot, I said, `you're bloody joking'. I was furious."
In her statement to police, she mentioned one person in the neighbourhood she had seen using an air rifle.
"I rang the SPCA as well, and they were simply disgusted by it."
Since TJ's amputation, which also left the Poultneys with a $1000 vet bill, the cat has been noticeably timid.
"Now he'll just stay in my son's room," Mrs Poultney said. "Only the other night did he come out and sit next to the heater. He might still be able to jump up on the table, but he can't get back down again."
Mrs Poultney said since the attack, she has been locking up the family's other four cats, out of fear they too would be shot.
"I've lived in this street for 10 years now and there's never been any problems. Why now?
"It also makes me worry for my children. If someone could do that to an animal, what's to stop them firing at one of the kids on their way to school?"
By speaking to the Bay of Plenty Times, Mrs Poultney hoped to warn other cat owners in the area. "It still makes me wonder, why would someone do it? If it was because they didn't want it on their property, they could have just turned a hose on it. I just think it's criminal."