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Call for change: Air gun attacks on cats

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46% of feline air gun shootings prove fatal: 78% of the public support the introduction of air gun licensing

46% of feline air gun shootings prove fatal: 78% of the public support the introduction of air gun licensing

A CALL for a change in legislation to restrict the sale and use of weapons has arisen following the distressing rise in fatal air gun attacks on cats.

Over 1,000 vets across the country, as well as 1,000 cat owners and 1,000 non-cat owners, were surveyed by Cats Protection, the leading feline welfare charity, which has sadly revealed that many more cats are killed today in gun-related attacks than 20 years ago.

The survey also revealed that a shocking 44% of vets questioned by the charity had treated cats within the past year which had been the victim of attacks by air-powered weapons, with a horrific 46% of these shootings proving fatal.

This research was undertaken by Cats Protection to mark the 20th anniversary since it first investigated the issue of air gun attacks.

In 1996, although 74% of vets had treated cats for air weapon attacks, just 11% of the feline victims passed away. Therefore, although attacks seem to be less common these days, they are far more likely to prove fatal.

The rise in fatal attacks suggests that more powerful air guns are being used. Injuries to the head and body are most common, with many cats left blind or partially sighted.

Cats Protection, vets and feline lovers alike are now calling on governments in England and Wales to officially make it a criminal offence to own an air gun without a licence or permit in a bid to reduce the number of cats who have to suffer from gun violence across the UK.

A leading criminologist states that many people who injure or shoot cats with air guns are worryingly far more likely to go on to commit similar crimes against humans.

Dr Adam Lynes, Criminologist and Lecturer at Birmingham City University, said: “There is an increasing body of research that examines the relationship between animal cruelty and the move towards attacking and murdering humans.

“It is argued that through the process of social learning theory, a theoretical framework in which criminal behaviour is learned, that some offenders will gain positive stimuli from engaging in animal cruelty which may lead to aggression towards humans. This is known as the ‘graduation hypothesis’.

“While it is acknowledged that a crime such as serial murder is incredibly rare, this relationship between animal cruelty and aggression towards humans may explain why some individuals commit acts of violence towards animals prior to attacking humans.”

Alongside this, nearly two-thirds of people surveyed believe that those who attack cats who go on to commit crimes against humans also, indicating a clear public concern.

More than three-quarters of vets indicated that air gun injuries were more frequently inflicted on cats than any other type of animal.

86% of vets agreed that they would like to see a change in the current laws to ultimately restrict the sale and use of air weapons, alongside 78% of the general public who would support the introduction of air gun licensing.

Jacqui Cuff, Cats Protection’s Advocacy Manager, said: “The sheer volume of instances where cats are injured and killed by air gun attacks is very concerning.

“We are calling for much stricter regulation on the ownership of air guns, as we strongly believe this will help to protect cats and other animals from these shocking attacks, and avoid air guns falling into the wrong hands.

“We want to see England and Wales following the example of Scotland, where from next year it will be illegal to own an air gun without a licence.

“The statistics show that fewer cats are now surviving air gun attacks than they were back in 1996.

“It is disconcerting that only a small percentage of the general public, 24%, would report these incidents to the police, and that 53% said they would do nothing. This could be due to a lack of confidence that the perpetrator will be found.

“Sadly, 78% of people who reported an air gun attack on their cat said the culprit was never caught.

“If any cat owners have lost their cat to an air gun attack in the last six months, we’d be grateful if they could send any details to campaigns@cats.org. uk. It will help Cats Protection to collect more evidence about the scale of these attacks and continue to raise the issue with politicians across the UK.”

In Pembrokeshire, one cat was fatally injured by an air gun in the north county village of Puncheston.

This stray feline, who was looked after by several homes, was the second cat to be killed in the village in less than a month, leading Lisa to believe that it was not an isolated incident.

Another cat was shot by an air gun in Milford Haven, with the pellet going straight through her neck and becoming lodged in her left shoulder, in an attack which she was lucky to survive.

Daisy the cat was then taken to All Pets Vet Care to remove the pellet, which cost her owners nearly £500.

Daisy has since recovered from the incident, but the usually confident cat now remains close to her owner’s side.

Recently making headlines at The Herald was the news that a group of teenagers from Milford Haven were shot at with an air rifle whilst on a walk.

Although extremely shaken up, no serious injuries were sustained but one of the boys was left with bruising to his chest after being hit by one of the shots.

PC Laurence Rew, investigating the case, said: “This was a very frightening situation for the group of teenagers who were targeted as they walked along the path.

“Air rifles are dangerous weapons if used incorrectly and can cause serious injury and even death.”

A survey which was conducted last year by the British Veterinary Association revealed that 41% of its members had previously treated cats who had wounds caused by air guns.

Cats Protection’s survey also indicated that a massive 88% of cat-wounding culprits were aged under 25.

Current gun laws state that young people under the age of 14 are able to use an air gun on private premises with the consent of the occupier of those premises as long as they are under the supervision of a person aged 21 or over.

People aged between 14 and 16 are allowed to borrow an air gun from a person aged 18 or over and use it on private property without supervision, indicating that laws need to be altered due to the 88% of cat injurers being aged under 25.

Sean Wensley, President of the British Veterinary Association, said: “These findings are concerning for both owners and vets.

“Anyone using an air gun, whether they are an adult or child, should be aware of the very serious injuries these weapons inflict.

“Vets see shocking injuries caused to cats by air guns, so we want to see better enforcement of animal welfare legislation and urge the police and local authorities to take action where they can.”

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Kill the Bill protest to take place in Haverfordwest on Saturday

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INDIVIDUALS and activists from local groups, including Extinction Rebellion Pembrokeshire, Stand Up to Racism West Wales, Pembrokeshire People’s Assembly and Reclaim These Streets Pembrokeshire are campaigning against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill and are to hold a demonstration against the Bill at 1pm this Saturday April 17, in Haverfordwest.
One of the organisers told  The Herald: “This is an enormous piece of draconian legislation that includes significant expansion in police powers to curtail the right to protest. The right to peacefully assemble and protest are a fundamental part of any democracy; empowering people to have their voices heard, in addition to holding the Government to account. These rights are universal –they protect peaceful and legitimate protest whatever the cause.
“The events at the Clapham vigil and at demonstrations over the last few weeks are a dangerous indication of what the future of protest will look like if the police powers bill gets through parliament.”
A local campaigner, a mother and grandmother said “We are in the process of losing a fundamental part of our democracy, It is important we protect it for future generations. We have messed up so much of their future already-we need to hold the Government to account”.
Aspects of the Bill include:
  • The power for Police forces to shut down protests that they deem too disruptive at their own discretion.
  • Up to a 10-year sentence for demonstrators considered to be causing a “public nuisance”.
  • The power for police forces to impose start and end times on static protests of any size.
  • The power to expand stop and search powers, which already discriminate against marginalised communities. If you live in the Dyfed Powys police area, you are 5 times more likely to be stopped and searched if you are black than white.
  • Up to 10-year sentences for damage to public monuments’ Police powers will be expanded and custodial sentences increased to “protect” women.
  • These measures are not sufficient to prevent violence and are troubling, considering some police officers’ involvement in cases of violence against women. Significant restrictions on where protests around Parliament may take place.
  • The elevation of trespass from a civil offence to a criminal offence, meaning police and courts can give harsh sentences to Travellers.
  • Increased power of police to seize vehicles and homes from Gypsy, Roma, and Traveller communities and demanding proof of permission to travel.
  • The bill will criminalise a way of life for these communities.
A peaceful, Covid-compliant march and rally will be taking place in Haverfordwest on Saturday April 17 , assembling at Picton Fields at 1pm.
People will be asked to wear masks and keep to social distancing regulations.  It is one of a number of protests being organised nationally on the same day against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts (PCSC) Bill.
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Everything you need to know about the current coronavirus restrictions in Wales

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THE GOVERNMENT guidelines in Wales are changing today (Apr 12).

There are major changes coming into force today across the country as the government coronavirus guidelines are starting to relax.

The changes affect household bubbles, non-essential retail, education and travel.

As of Monday, April 12, the following changes have come into force:

  • Six people from two different households (not counting children under 11) can meet and exercise outdoors and in private gardens
  • Households or support bubbles can holiday in self-contained accommodation – including hotels with en-suite facilities
  • All pupils and students can now return to school, college and other education
  • All shops and close-contact services can open
  • The ban on travelling in and out of Wales has ended
  • Driving lessons can resume and some driving tests (Remainder on April 22)

Non-essential retail are able to open up today for the first time since the country was put into a national lockdown with non-essential retail ordered to close in December of last year.

With infection rates falling and the national vaccine rollout success, the Welsh Government have set out a road map of restriction easing.

Unlike England, the hospitality industry in Wales will have to wait until April 26 to open their doors to customers, but only for those who can operate in an outdoor space such as beer gardens.

The current guidelines in force for Wales are as follows:

Meeting friends and family

From May 3:

  • Two families can once again form an “extended household” and meet indoors.

The following rules currently apply:

  • Six people from two different households (not counting children under 11) can meet up outdoors, including gardens.
  • If you are an adult living alone or you’re a single responsible adult in a household (a single parent, for instance), you can form a support bubble with one other household.
  • You can also end it and form another support bubble with a different household, as long as you leave a 10-day gap between.

Going to work

  • You must work from home if you can. The only exceptions will be critical workers and jobs where working from home is not possible.
  • Tradespeople can work in someone else’s private home, as long as it is managed in a safe way and both the worker and household members are well and have no symptoms of coronavirus.

Schools and nurseries

  • All pupils will return to face-to-face teaching at school from 12 April.
  • From that date all students can return to further education and training centres.
  • University campuses will be able to open for blended (face-to face and online) learning for all students.
  • Internal GCSE, A-level and AS-level assessments have been cancelled.

Leisure time

From April 26:

  • Outdoor attractions, including funfairs and theme parks, will be allowed to reopen.
  • Outdoor hospitality can resume, including at cafes, pubs and restaurants, but indoor hospitality will remain restricted.

From May 3:

  • Organised outdoor activities for up to 30 people can again take place.
  • Gyms, leisure centres and fitness facilities can reopen. This will include individual or one-to-one training but not exercise classes.

The following rules currently apply:

  • Self-contained holiday accommodation, including hotels with en-suite facilities and room service, can open to people from the same household or support bubble.
  • Outdoor sports facilities such as golf, tennis and basketball are open. A maximum of six people from two households can take part.
  • Organised outdoor sport for under-18s can now take place.
  • All gyms and leisure centres are closed.
  • Professional sports will continue but stadiums are closed to fans.
  • Bars, restaurants, cafes and pubs are closed – except for takeaway and delivery.
  • The outdoor areas of some historic places and gardens can reopen in a limited way.
  • Libraries and archives can reopen

Shopping

From April 12:

  • All shops can reopen.
  • All close contact services such as hairdressers or beauty salons can open, including mobile services.

The following rules currently apply:

  • Hairdressers and barbers are open for business – by appointment only.
  • Non-essential shops remain closed.
  • Garden centres are now open.
  • Alcohol cannot be sold in shops between 22:00 and 06:00 BST.
  • Face coverings must be worn by customers and staff.
  • Indoor shopping should be done alone, or with people in your household.

Other

From April 12:

  • You can travel anywhere in the UK or the Common Travel Area (Ireland, Isle of Man and the Channel Islands)
  • Outdoor canvassing for the Welsh elections can begin.
  • Driving lessons can resume and some driving tests (remainder on 22 April).

From April 26:

  • Weddings receptions can take place outdoors, but will be limited to 30 people.

The following rules currently apply:

  • Weddings and civil partnerships can take place at licensed venues, but receptions are not allowed.
  • Care home residents can receive one designated visitor.
  • You can travel anywhere within Wales.
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Ten years in prison for Milford Haven taxi driver who raped passenger

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ANTHONY MARCUS JONES, 43, a taxi driver from Hawthorn Path, Mount Estate, Milford Haven has been sentenced to ten years in jail for rape.

The sentencing hearing took place at Swansea Crown Court on Monday (Apr 12), following a guilty verdict at a previous hearing.

The defendant had already been remanded into custody.

Jones, who was working for local taxi firm Kars Kabs at the time, was working a late shift on a Saturday in April 2018.

On the same night, the victim was out for a night on the town in Milford Haven.

In the early hours of the Sunday morning, the victim was seen on camera in a Milford Haven bar.

In an extremely drunken state and unable to converse, staff at the premises decided it was best to call her a taxi shortly after 1am.

A ‘Kars Kabs’ taxi responded, Anthony Marcus Jones was not the driver.

At this point, Anthony Marcus Jones was hackneying for business in Haverfordwest, a normal technique used by Milford Haven taxi drivers as business ‘dries up’ in Milford earlier than in Haverfordwest.

The victim was put into the back of a Kars Kabs taxi and the driver headed off towards the home address of the victim.

When the taxi pulled into her street, the victim was too inebriated to point out her house, even after several minutes of being asked.

After this, she became unresponsive.

Eager to return his passenger safely and becoming frustrated by her apparent lack of coherency, the Kars Kabs driver contacted his colleague, Anthony Marcus Jones, who had known the victim for years, to assist in getting her home.

At that point it was decided that the best thing that could be done would be for Jones to get the victim home, Jones however couldn’t leave Haverfordwest as he was in the middle of a run.

It was decided that the Kars Kabs taxi from Milford Haven would take the victim to Haverfordwest multi-storey car park where the victim would then be transferred into the taxi operated by Jones who would then return to Milford Haven, this would also allow the taxi drivers to effectively swap towns ensuring that no business would be missed.

This exchange took place at about 1:30am.

Minutes later Jones was seen on camera heading back towards Milford Haven via Haverfordwest High Street.

At this point Jones did not take her to her home address as planned, he took her to a car park where he admitted engaging in sexual intercourse in the back of his taxi.

Forty minutes after leaving Haverfordwest, the victim finally made it home missing several items of clothing and wearing Jones’ jacket.

She was put straight to bed by friends.

The victim was in so much of a state that night that she claimed to have ‘slept the whole next day’.

Later that day, Jones spoke to a friend and boasted about what he had done to the victim, he asked his friend not to tell the taxi firms boss.

The Kars Kabs owner was then messaged via Instagram by a friend of the victim who asked him where her missing items were and how to get Jones’ jacket back to him.

This was the first time the Kars Kabs owner knew that anything happened in his taxi.

At this point he messaged Jones and asked him to return the victim’s items, a regular event for taxi companies after busy nights out and thought no more about it.

The following Tuesday, the owner of the now defunct Kars Kabs was informed of what had happened, fired Anthony Jones and informed the police, leading to Jones’ arrest.

As well as the ten year term in prison, it was also decided at Swansea Crown Court on Monday (Apr 12) that Jones’ details would be entered onto the sex offender’s register for an indefinite term.

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