In an eight month-span, at least 10 cats have been shot in Loudoun, five of which have succumbed to their injuries.
Loudoun County Animal Services on Wednesday reported a 10th cat shot since April. Because of “catastrophic injuries” caused by a wound from a pellet gun, Animal Services was forced to humanely euthanize the cat, named Sweetie. It’s the fifth time the department has been tasked with doing so, according to a Dec. 2 statement.
The department stated that it has consulted with and utilized the services of the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office and a K9 officer with the Department of Wildlife Resources to find the perpetrators of the shootings, most of which have occurred in eastern Loudoun.
Animal Services’ Humane Law Enforcement team “is taking this investigation very seriously.”
“We cannot continue to have cats dying slow, painful, preventable deaths,” the department stated on Wednesday. “…[T]o needlessly inflict devastating injuries is not only heartbreaking and worrisome for our local families, it is also a felony, carrying potential jail time.”
Under Virginia law, any person suspected of cruelly and unnecessarily beating, maiming or mutilating any dog or cat that is a companion animal—and as a direct result causes serious bodily injury or death, even via euthanasia, to the dog or cat—may be charged with a Class 6 felony, punishable by one to five years in prison and a fine of up to $2,500.
Friends of Loudoun County Animal Services is offering a $3,000 reward for tips leading to the arrest of the person or persons responsible for one or more of the feline shootings.
One incident in May saw an Ashburn cat named Hope shot in the back right leg with a pellet or BB gun, which shattering her femur and required a $5,100 surgery to remove the bullet and reconstruct the bone.
Animal Services is urging parents to talk to their children about responsible pellet gun usage.
“We know most kids love their pets, and may not realize that ‘target practice’ on outdoor cats is legally and ethically different than organized hunting,” it stated. “… This case is keeping us all up at night, and we will not rest until justice has been served for all these cats and their heartbroken families.”
Those who have seen or heard of anyone shooting cats should call the department at 703-777-0406. Those calling can remain anonymous.