A cat had a lucky escape from an illegal trap last week after being stuck for two days in a field in Maperton near Wincanton.
Freddy, the 18-month-old tabby, had to have an emergency operation to amputate his leg after being discovered by his owner caught up in a barbed wire fence.
Vet Rhian Rochford, 28, was distraught after losing her beloved Freddy on Saturday, March 26, but hoped he had been shut in a nearby farm building.
But Mrs Rochford came across Freddy stuck in the fence with the trap still attached last Tuesday during a search near the family home.
“I heard him crying and it was very upsetting to see the condition he was in, even though I am used to seeing injured animals in my profession,” she said.
“He had dragged the trap as far as he could before he was caught up in a fence in the field next to our house.
“When we found him he was in a horrendous state and the bone was sticking out with his paw only just hanging on. He was very distressed.
“I cut him loose and he was very glad to see me.
“I took him straight to the vets practice where I work in Sturminster Newton and one of my colleagues performed an operation to remove his leg that night.
“I have seen cats pick up infections when not enough of the limb is removed so I said to take it completely off to give him the best chance of making a full recovery.”
The use of gin traps is illegal and has been since 1958.
Mrs Rochford thinks it could have been laid to trap badgers or foxes but is urging dog walkers to be wary when they are out in the countryside.
“This kind of trap is very dangerous to animals and an incredibly inhumane way to deal with foxes or badgers,” she said.
“It is a good job he is such a young cat and he is very strong and recovering well.
“He must have dragged the trap a long way with his leg still caught in it.
“I was very surprised to see a trap like this in this area and hopefully there are not any more out there.
“Luckily Freddy is on the mend now and is just trying to get used to getting about with just three legs.”
Gin traps are toothed, spring traps that in the past were often set in the open to catch species such as rabbits and foxes.
Animals were caught by the leg when they stepped into the trap, causing great suffering – at times even losing their legs in efforts to escape.
An RSPCA spokesperson said: “These are cruel, barbaric contraptions which pose a huge danger to both wild and domestic animals.
“The sale or possession of such traps is not illegal, but the RSPCA wants to make people aware that they can face prosecution by setting a gin trap.
“We’re keen to hear from anyone who may have information about who might have owned the trap, or placed it there.
“The sooner we get to the bottom of this the quicker we can prevent this happening to another family pet.
“Please call us, in confidence, on 0300 1234999.”