In mid-January, the McIvor family moved to Wakefield to what felt like a safe, peaceful cul-de-sac. They kept both their cats, Milly and Theo, inside for the first few days to let them get accustomed to their new surroundings.
Within 48 hours of releasing them outdoors for the first time Theo came back injured. His wounds appeared to have come from something like a BB-gun but the family were unable to confirm that.
BB-guns are an air gun that fires projectiles in the form of pellets made of either plastic or aluminium. In New Zealand they’re normally used for pest control, for removing animals from properties such as rabbits, rats and possums. Anyone can use an airgun if they hold a New Zealand Firearms Licence or are under the supervision of someone over 18 years of age that holds a licence. Theo was shot again last month.
This time it was a more severe injury with a clear hole visible on his left side. The McIvor family took him to the vet again where he was given antibiotics to heal the wound.
Last Wednesday evening Milly turned up howling in pain, her white fur covered in blood. “Milly was so petrified”, said Jasmine McIvor, “and she was dragging her legs behind her”. She calmed down once in Jasmine’s arms.
Jasmine said, “It was such a horrific thing that my daughter might never forget”.
Again the McIvors went to the vet, determined to get an x-ray this time. The result was a confirmation of what they had feared. Milly’s injuries were the result of a shot from an air rifle and the bullet was lodged in her spine.
Milly was put to sleep. Laws exist specific to the use of air guns such as a licensed owner can fire their gun on their residential property if certain protocols are adhered to. And the Crimes Act 1961 has laws regarding the harm of another person’s animal which hold imprisonment and fines.
But without a confession from the person responsible, the police can do little other than offer community education on keeping straying pets off your property.
The McIvor family have had a lot of contact from neighbours in surrounding streets, everyone voicing their sympathy.
Aaron McIvor, father of Stella placed a post in Facebook to bring the incident to the public’s attention.
The responses it brought reference to it not being the first time, some naming a company as the suspect. Most of the people who have been in contact are expressing their anger that this type of thing is able to happen and are concerned about their own pets’ safety.
The McIvor’s have spent a considerable amount on visits to the vet over the last four months. They’ve had to say goodbye to a precious part of their family and are now living in an ongoing state of fear that Theo might once again become a target.