Animal cruelty

Each year thousands of domestic pets, farm animals and birds are injured and killed by adults and children using rifles, shotguns, airguns, BB guns and airsoft guns.


Cats are the most numerous victims of these random acts of cruelty, and if they are injured owners are faced with bills for veterinary treatment. Perpetrators are rarely brought to justice despite the fact that any person who deliberately shoots a domestic pet/other animal may be guilty of the following offences:-

1. Causing unnecessary suffering to an animal (s.4 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006)

2. Criminal damage (s.1 of the Criminal Damage Act 1977)

3. Harassment (s.2 of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997) - if there are two or more incidents.


A free Pet Owners Fact sheet, giving general legal advice regarding prosecution following acts of animal cruelty is available from Gun Control Network


Other animals, domestic pets and farm animals are also killed and injured by criminals with shotguns and rifles, airweapons, BB and airsoft guns.  

We note that there seems to be a reluctance from Police and the Crown Prosecution Service to proceed through the Courts in animal cruelty cases involving perpetrators with airguns* who have killed or injured cats.

*The Air Weapons and Licensing (Scotland) Bill

The Air Weapons and Licensing (Scotland) Bill was passed by the Scottish Parliament in June 2015 and received the Royal Assent in August 2015. Under the provisions of the Act it will be an offence for a person to use, possess, purchase or acquire an air weapon in Scotland without holding an air weapon certificate.

Some cases have been privately prosecuted in civil actions and owners have been successful in being reimbursed for vet etc. fees.


As well as using animals for target practice there are occasions when guns are used deliberately to shoot pets in neighbour disputes. Victims of domestic violence tell  of their abusers threatening or actually shooting pets belonging to the victim.


Contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or the RSPCA on 0322 123 4999 to report incidents of animal cruelty








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