FEARFUL Hyndburn cat lovers face a double threat to the lives of their beloved pets.
- Threat number one comes from a gang of teenagers who are going round setting a vicious dog on helpless moggies.
- And threat number two is children shooting cats with an air rifle.
One woman was forced to watch her elderly cat being ripped apart in her own garden.
Heartbroken June Tattersall, 49, urged people to be on their guard after a teenage gang set their dog - described as a lurcher or greyhound - on her beloved cat Ginger, tearing it limb from limb.
The attack on the helpless pet, which she had owned for nearly 17 years, took place outside her home in Norfolk Grove, Church. And the mum-of-two claims the youths have been responsible for the deaths of several other cats in the area.
She said: "They are sick, there is something wrong with their heads. I was in my front room and heard a strange noise so I went outside to see what was wrong. This dog had hold of Ginger and ripped it to bits in its mouth. It has been very difficult to get over. The dog is really bloodthirsty. People with cats should be careful and keep them inside."
Katherine Doyle, 42, Mrs Tattersall's sister and neighbour, said statements had been given to the police about the identities of those responsible.
She said: "Other people have seen the same gang doing similar things. There was an incident last week in Milnshaw Park. It is far from unusual for cats to go missing. Several have been killed and thrown over the allotments in Norfolk Grove."
Police said an investigation was already underway involving the RSPCA and Hyndburn Dog Warden Steve Wood.
Mr Wood said: "It's a case of the police gathering statements at the moment but arrests should be made. I've heard of at least three cats being killed. Apparently this has been going on for months."
RSPCA spokesman Heather Holmes said: "We can institute a prosecution if we have clear proof that someone incited an animal to attack another. But the police can get involved through the dangerous dogs legislation."
- Meanwhile, a second cat has been shot with an air rifle. Last week we reported how Jane Outterside, 37, of Robert Street, Accrington, was sickened after thugs held an air rifle to her cat's ear and shot it through the head. Buster, a seven-year-old grey tabby, managed to survive the attack but was left with a pellet lodged in his head.
Now a second woman has come forward to say her young son's pet cat was shot in the leg with an air rifle - and she believes the same people may be responsible.
Sam Hardman, of Manchester Road, Accrington, said that her seven-year-old son, Tommy, had been left devastated by the shooting. His six-year-old cat, Dot, which he has had since he was a toddler, is still receiving treatment for her injuries and vets have warned that she may need to be put down.
Sam, who lives with Tommy, husband Geoff and other daughter Maisy, three, said she first noticed something was wrong when Dot came home limping.
She initially assumed Dot had broken her leg but the vet discovered she had been shot. The pellet had shattered the bone and she underwent an operation to pin the fragments together - but if they do not knit she may have to have her leg amputated or even be put to sleep.
She said she had reported the incident to police, who told her it was likely that the cat had been shot in the woods behind Haworth Park.
She added: "If it was kids, then I'd like to know what their parents are doing letting them play with air rifles. If children are out there taking pot shots at animals, how long will it be before they start injuring people?"