Imagine the horror of finding out that your beloved cat had been shot and seriously injured by an air gun.
That was the terrifying experience of one of our clients last year when he returned from work to find his beloved cat, Noodle, walking with one leg dragging out behind, limp and lifeless.
His owner, unaware of the cause of the injury called Roundwood Vets and was promptly seen by Dr Ruth Sadd. It was clear something was very wrong with the cat, as he could not use one of his back legs properly.
Concerned about some kind of serious back injury, Dr Ruth examined his spine where she located a hole in the skin on one side of the spine and a hard lump under the skin on the other side. She took an X-ray which clearly revealed an airgun pellet lying dangerously close to the spine.
Fearing the worst, that the pellet had damaged the spinal cord and her patient may be paralysed, Dr Ruth immediately operated to remove the pellet and administered medicines to reduce swelling and stop infection.
Speaking about the surgery, she said, "I was worried about how close the pellet was to the spine because it was clear that the bullet had entered the cat's body on one side and had passed through the tissues eventually stopping on the other side. It was possible that Noodle would be permanently unable to use the leg, so we had to act quickly."
During the operation, Dr Ruth found the pellet, removed it and established that, rather than going through the spine (which would have paralysed Noodle), the bullet had tracked under the skin. It had caused a lot of swelling and bruising but, astonishingly, it had missed the vital organs and spine.
Following a few days of rest after her operation Noodle recovered the use of her leg, though she was very put out by Dr Ruth's bed-rest instructions! Since then, thanks to the speedy actions of her owner and skill of Dr Ruth, she has gone on to make a full recovery.
The perpetrator of this vicious crime has not been identified, so cat owners in the Dollis Hill area of London are advised to be watchful in case of further incidents.
Of the shooting, Dr Ruth commented. "Gunshot wounds are thankfully rare cases, but clearly they are very serious. It sickens me to think that anyone would stoop so low as to shoot a defenceless creature. Noodle was very lucky to survive."
As infuriating as it is to hear about these events, it is also rare to ever catch the person responsible for such a cowardly act. Anyone who witnesses or suspects someone of undertaking an act of cruelty towards animals is strongly advised to contact the local police or RSPCA.