© — Submitted photo
Sonya, a cat picked up in Mainland was shot in both eyes with a pellet gun
By Rebekah Ward
Special to The Telegram
The feline caught in the town of Mainland Tuesday and treated in Stephenville for a pellet gun shot in each eye has been temporarily sent to a foster home.
She was released Friday at 4p.m. according to Jessica Boyd, an associate veterinarian at West Coast Veterinary Services.
“Surgically, so far, we just did one procedure (on Wednesday, July 10). We didn’t feel like she could undergo multiple surgeries at one time,” Boyd said.
“Essentially the socket itself was cleaned out, and everything was stitched closed. So when it’s all healed she’ll basically have fur covering that whole area, but she’ll definitely be a one-eyed cat. Her other eye has negligible vision.”
Before Sona’s next surgery, the veterinarians want her to completely recover from the first. They estimate it will be at least a week.
“The other thing that she really needs is at least a partial, if not a complete amputation of her right front limb,” Boyd said.
“Basically from the wrist down, the parts of the bones that are remaining are infected and rotting. Gangrene would be an appropriate term to use. I’m not sure how that injury occurred. It’s definitely possible that she was bitten by another animal. It (also) seemed likely that she could have had her paw caught in a snare.”
Sona’s limb injury does not appear to be recent.
“If that paw isn’t surgically removed, the concern is that the infection could spread to her whole body, and she could become septic. I’m honestly surprised that the infection didn’t (already) take her,” Boyd said.
Gwen Samms from SCAPA (Society for Care and Protection of Animals) in Stephenville is one of two volunteers who went to Mainland to pick Sona up. The other was a representative of Scaredy Cat Rescue from Corner Brooke. Samms and her team at SCAPA have taken Sona in for now.
“She’s going to be coming home with one of the volunteers for the weekend,” Samms said.
“She goes back (to the vet) next week, but they’re going to give her a break for the weekend, and get her out of the cage at the clinic.”
Samms is concerned about the mounting veterinary bill, but concerned individuals have already begun sending SCAPA monetary aid.
“But it will be a very large bill, it will be up in the thousands,” Samms said.
When asked how often SCAPA sees abuse cases like this, Samms said it sees more than their share. The Scaredy Cat Rescue volunteer who assisted Samms echoed this sentiment.
“Every week we’re getting phone calls, every day,” the representative said.
“Our phones don’t stop. And we’re just volunteers. I’m sure right across the province there are problems with cats like this.”
These two rescuers were not alone in trapping Sona Tuesday; according to Samms, they were helped by Mainland resident Kevin Cornect. She said it was Cornect’s girlfriend who posted the initial facebook photos of Sona; it was these photos that led her to the injured cat.
The clinic feels Sona’s gunshot wounds must have been intentional. Boyd thinks there’s a possibility someone misunderstood that pellets were unlikely to kill Sona, and and after seeing her leg, shot her to take her out of her misery.
“But the pellets in her head were definitely on purpose. There’s no way that someone accidentaly shot that cat,” Boyd said.
Sona’s case has been turned over to the RCMP.
“There’s been conversations with them, they’re not ignoring it,” Boyd said.
“But (in general) I think there is still room for improvement (in terms of action against animal abuse). Not necessarily with the legislation, but mostly with the enforcement.”
As Boyd noted, the legislation does exist here in Newfoundland. Sgt. Marc Coulombe of the RCMP said the police had access to
two pieces of legislation for this purpose.
“We can follow the Animal Health and Protection Act. That is a provincial act we can work with,” Coulombe said.
“Specifically, section 18 of the act says that a person shall not cause an animal to be in distress. There are three levels of fines on that act, and they’re ticketable offences. (The) first offence is $100 dollars, second is $250, and third is $500. The second way we can go (is a criminal charge): section 445 of the criminal code of Canada is for injuring or endangering animals.”
Under that sub-section of the criminal code, offenders could face up to five years in prison, or else up to 18 months in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
Coulombe said that from what he knows about Sona’s case, he would likely turn to the criminal code. But ultimately, the situation has to be evaluated at the discretion of the enforcement official, and if there is not enough evidence to support a case, their hands are tied.