A CAT which died after up to eight days stuck in an illegal gin trap near Appleby would have endured “untold suffering”, the RSPCA said this week.
Jackie and Alan Robinson, owners of Sooty, a tom cat which went missing from its home in Long Marton earlier this month, launched a desperate search for their pet.
A neighbour, Dennis Gallyer, heard cries on Sunday morning and was greeted with the shocking sight of Sooty snared by his leg in the old gin trap in a field nearby. The cat’s leg was infested with maggots which had spread to other parts of his body.
Mr. Gallyer freed the stricken animal and wrapped it in a blanket before taking it to a vet. But Sooty died as he was recovering from surgery later that day. Police said that a vet who examined the animal confirmed its injuries were consistent with having been trapped for more than a week.
Mrs. Robinson, who is 55, called the trap “barbaric and horrific” and appealed for information in locating the person who put it there. “With the trap being tied to a fence Sooty couldn’t get away,” she said.
The cat was about 13 years of age and had been adopted by her as a kitten when she found it at the British Gypsum plant at Kirkby Thore where she used to work.
“There was no reason for the trap to be there and we are missing Sooty terribly,” added Mrs. Robinson, who has three other cats and a dog.
Gin traps were formerly used by gamekeepers more than 50 years ago but were made illegal when the 1954 Pests Act came into force. “It was considered, quite rightly, that these were not the best way of dealing with pests,” said an RSPCA spokesman, who called them “horrific devices”.
The RSPCA did not receive many reports of gin traps, although the last was earlier this year when a cat survived after becoming caught in a device which it was found dragging around close to a main road near Kendal.
“I cannot understand why anybody would set a trap. From our point of view the RSPCA is completely opposed to the manufacture, setting or use of any snare,” said the spokesman.
Sergeant Ann Brown, of Appleby police, said the devices were unacceptable and added that anybody using them faced prosecution. “They not only catch cats and dogs but a child could also have been hurt,” she said. “Anybody who has anything like this at home should destroy it immediately and if they are not sure how to should contact the police or environmental health department at Eden District Council.”