Published: 10:00, 24 June 2014
A pet owner who found her cat cowering under a bush covered in blood was distraught to discover she had been shot.
One-year-old Dunlop suffered horrific injuries when the pellet shattered her elbow and penetrated her other leg - narrowly missing her vital organs.
Her wounds were so severe, she had to undergo emergency surgery at Broadway Veterinary Group in Herne Bay to amputate her front leg.
Now her owner Sandra Rich is afraid to let her other cat out of the house and is considering moving away from her previously idyllic home in Island Road, Upstreet.
Disabled Ms Rich, 42, who bought Dunlop for her daughter Lauren's 14th birthday last year, said: "I returned home from shopping and found Dunlop under the bush, covered in blood.
"It was awful. We thought she might have been hit by a car, attacked by a dog, or cut herself climbing over a fence - we never would've imagined she had been shot.
"When the vet did an X-ray and found the pellet, we were completely shocked. We all just broke down crying. It's just horrendous."
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The mother-of-two faced a bill of £3,000 for a specialist operation - or £1,000 to have Dunlop's leg amputated. The only other alternative was to put her down, which Ms Rich refused to consider.
She added: "I just don't understand the mentality of someone who could do this. If they can shoot a defenceless animal, what's to say they won't shoot a human?
"I'm petrified for my other animals, but also my children. I always thought this was a lovely area but it's scary to think there's someone around here capable of doing this."
Dunlop is thought to have been hit with a buckshot, which is a type of pellet used in shotgun shells designed for hunting large game.
Veterinary nurse Tracy Newbury, who treated the maimed moggy at Broadway, said: "Poor Dunlop was rushed into our Herne Bay branch with blood all over her.
"An X-ray showed she had been shot with a pellet, which was the last thing we expected to find. It went right through her elbow and entered her shoulder on the other side. She's very lucky it missed her chest.
"We treated her for shock, but the only thing we could really do was amputate the leg because the elbow injury was so severe. She's on high levels of pain relief, but she's coping really well."
Ms Rich hopes to bring Dunlop home from the vets this afternoon.
She has reported the attack to police, who could bring charges of animal cruelty and criminal damage if the culprit is caught.
Anyone with information is asked to phone police on 101, quoting crime reference ZY/20062/14.
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