A Killorglin woman is this week issuing a warning to all fellow pet owners in the area to be extra vigilant and careful with their pets after she came home on Sunday night to discover her beloved five-year-old cat, Bratt, had been fatally shot through his abdomen with what looks to be a pellet from either an air rifle or an air gun.
devastated Francesca Dawn Eyers contacted The Sunday World this week in the wake of what she described as a “malicious” and "through and through shooting” to warn pet owners and locals in general about had happened and issued the warning that if someone is prepared to shoot an innocent animal in cold blood, that this could possibly escalate to people being shot in the future.
It was last Sunday night (May 1) at around 7pm when Francesca, who works as an emergency and critical care veterinary nurse, left a then perfectly healthy Bratt and her other pets at home as she went to go have dinner at her parent’s house, returning a few hours later to find Bratt collapsed on the bathroom floor and struggling for breath.
"He was struggling for breath and there was very obviously something wrong with him. I'm an emergency and critical care veterinary nurse myself so I knew that there was something immediately wrong with my animal.
He was hyper-salivating, absolutely soaked in his own saliva and really struggling for breath and he had an elevated heart rate and elevated breathing as well,” she said.
"We contacted Aoife over at the Mid Kerry Veterinary Centre in Milltown and she was absolutely wonderful. She realised the urgency of the situation and so we met her over there 20 minutes later in Milltown where we got an x-ray done within minutes of being through the door.
It was then we discovered what looked to be and felt like under the skin - because it was still inside him - an air rifle pellet,” she continued.
The damage done to Bratt – Francesca discovered via a necropsy after he had passed away – was catastrophic with the pellet causing severe damage to his insides.
"Since then, I've had a necropsy done - the animal version of a post mortem - and it turns out, what had actually happened was that the pellet entered his abdomen, went through his liver, lacerated his liver, causing massive damage as it did.
It went through his diaphragm, exited into the other side of his chest and then it travelled under the skin where it eventually stopped next to his ribs. It [the damage] was catastrophic,” she said.
"It was in all effects, a through and through shooting,” she added.
Francesca said that she has reported the shooting to the Gardaí and that they have spoken to neighbours in the area but as of now, there are no current leads as to who killed what Francesca called her “incredibly loved and a practically worshipped family pet” who she had raised since he was found abandoned as a five week old kitten.
"They [the Gardaí] have given me a PULSE number now so I do have an incident number and they have been around and they have spoken to a couple of neighbours in the area but there is no leads currently as to who did it.
I have the sense that maybe it could be somebody in their teens who has managed to get a hold of an air rifle or an air gun and was showing off,” she said.
"In my mind, it's a very sick and twisted individual with serious psychological issues that has done this. My main concern at the moment is that this escalates further and whether or not the rest of my animals are safe and whether or not my child is safe.
She's a teenager but I think if somebody is prepared to target an animal, then what is to stop them targeting a human. There's a known scientific progression that people who harm humans, they would probably have had a history of harming animals,” she continued.
Finally, Francesca said that there is someone somewhere who knows something about this and that she just wants people, that if they hear anything at all all, to come forward to them or to the Killarney or the Killorglin Gardaí who she said will take it seriously and will follow up on any leads.