A tabby cat lost his front left leg following a “horrific” injury caused by an illegal gin trap.
RSPCA Cymru has now launched an appeal for information after the incident.
The small cat – named Pickles – was found by window cleaners hiding beneath wooden pallets in the playground of Abercynon Community Primary School on Tuesday, September 1.
It is thought the trapped cat dragged himself to the school with his leg held by the device. He had been missing since the previous Friday, and his owners fear he therefore had spent many days caught in the illegal device.
Sadly, Pickles’ leg later had to be amputated as a consequence of the injuries caused by the trap.
Gin traps are mechanical devices designed to catch an animal by its leg, using spring-operated jaws with teeth or serrated edge. The device used in this incident is illegal to set and use, although not illegal for somebody to own or sell.
RSPCA Cymru has urged anyone with information about who may have set the gin trap to contact their inspectorate appeal line. The charity is also reminding the public about the laws surrounding gin traps, highlighting how these devices can cause “immense suffering” to wildlife and pets.
Gemma Cooper, RSPCA inspector, said: “Sadly, by setting this barbaric and illegal gin trap, someone’s actions have caused Pickles to lose his front left leg.
“The poor cat was found by very helpful and caring window cleaners at Abercynon Community Primary School – who were able to sound the alarm and get Pickles the help he desperately needed.
“Fortunately, a parent at the school recognised Pickles and was able to contact his owner, so we were soon able to reunite the cat with his family. Sadly, the lower half of Pickles’ leg was left just swinging – and vets were later left with no choice but to amputate.
“Gin traps have been illegal to use in the UK since 1958 and can cause immense suffering – but sadly we still regularly deal with incidents involving gin traps and they’re completely indiscriminate in what they catch with victims including wildlife and pets. This is the second cat I’ve helped in the Abercynon area from gin trap injuries this year.
“While it’s a relief that this injury wasn’t even worse, it is so frustrating to think that this incident could have been avoided had someone not acted illegally like this. Anyone with information is urged to contact our inspectorate appeal line on 0300 123 8018.”
Victoria John – Pickles’ owner – added: “Pickles had been missing since the previous Friday, and his injuries were horrific, with a build-up of maggots suggesting he had been caught by the gin trap for some while.
“We’re just so glad he was found after dragging himself to the local school. He’s a really small cat, and the trap looked so much bigger than him.
“My kids are absolutely devastated by what happened. It’s been a really tough time – but thankfully, he is recovering well and adjusting to life with an amputated leg. I’m just glad it wasn’t his neck – as this could have been even worse.
“We really don’t want any other cats or their owners to go through this. Hopefully, this appeal will bring forward some information and remind people how dangerous these traps can be for pets like Pickles.”
RSPCA officers have remained on the frontline throughout the coronavirus pandemic, responding to animal welfare emergencies.