Concerns mount over pet poisonings and cats killed by air rifle shootings in Knebworth

It is believed Leo and Ziggy both died after being shot with an air rifle.

It is believed Leo and Ziggy both died after being shot with an air rifle. - Credit: Archant

Two cats have died after apparently being shot with an air rifle in Knebworth, and there is also growing concern over pets being fatally poisoned in the village.

Nick and Juliet Cox found their short-haired black and white cat Ziggy in a distressed state when they returned to their London Road home after a brief trip out.

A vet confirmed an air rifle pellet had lodged in Ziggy’s flank and he had to be put down.

Neighbour Chris Unitt’s cat, Leo, had been found dead in a garden the previous week. Although Mr Unitt noticed some blood, he did not have his pet checked and buried it, but is now convinced his cat was shot too.

There is also concern that pets in Knebworth are dying after ingesting poison, thought to have been put down to kill foxes or rats.

A spokesman for environmental conservation group Herts Wildlife Monitors and East Herts Sabs said: “As if it is not bad enough two cats have died after being shot with air rifles in Knebworth, now it would seem someone is putting down poison.

“We are not sure whether the person is targeting rats or foxes, but poison is indiscriminate and causes a huge amount of suffering before death. If a rat or mouse is poisoned and is then consumed by a raptor, owl, fox or domestic cat, these too will be poisoned. Poisoning any animal other than rats - which has strict guidelines - is a criminal offence.

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“Numerous deaths have occurred in Gun Lane and Pondcroft Road. In the last week in Cherry Close and Gun Lane a small dog and young cat have died due to poisoning. On top of this a one-year-old cat has died suddenly and another two cats have gone missing.”

Stevenage MP Stephen McPartland tweeted: “Shocking incidents in Knebworth for animal lovers everywhere. Those responsible must be found and prosecuted by Herts Police.”

A spokesman for Herts Police said: “We were called to reports that a cat had been shot by air rifle in London Road. Sadly, the cat had to be put down. Another cat in the street had been found dead in the same week and the victim was concerned the incidents might be linked. The local Safer Neighbourhood Team have attended the street to give words of advice around the dangers of air rifles.

“Officers are investigating and anyone with information should call 101, quoting crime reference 41/43407/20, or report information online at”

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