A BELOVED family cat has been shot dead with an air rifle in Cleator Moor, leaving its owners distraught.

Gizmo the cat was a cherised family member in Marianne Austin's household for six years, but horror struck over the weekend (September 24) when Gizmo was found dead in a field close to St Patricks School by a walker in the area after not returning home.

When Marianne collected Gizmo's body, she knew something was not 'quite right' with his injuries.

Marianne contacted MacKenzie Leder, who works with animals in the area and has had experience dealing with pets that have passed away.

MacKenzie said: "I have dealt with these situations before and would have known straight away if it was due to a road traffic accident.

"Unfortunately, I could see poor Gizmo had been shot."

"It went in one side of his chest and came out the other.

"I can only pray it was a quick passing for him, his owner is absolutely distraught and so are her children. He was part of the family."

Marianne and her family, including her three children, are obviously distraught. She said: "There are no words. I think it is the way he was killed which has made it ten times worse.

"It has not sunk in, you think he will just walk in. The kids are devastated.” 

MacKenzie helped Marianne and her family to organise a cremation for Gizmo.

She got in touch with Jeanne Park at Pets at Peace in Whitehaven and took Gizmo back home 'where he belongs'.

Marianne explained that Gizmo was not just loved by her family but by everyone on Priory Drive in Cleator Moor. The family have been contacted over 30 times with potential leads whilst police also carry out their own investigation.

A Cumbria Police spokesperson said: "We had reports that a cat had died, believed shot with an air rifle. Officers have attended the area and made enquiries, including efforts to source CCTV in the area."

"Police are appealing for anyone with evidence or information which will help identify the person responsible to get in touch.

"They would also be keen to hear from anyone with CCTV in the area who believes they have recorded evidence which can assist police."

Anyone with information relating to this incident can report online here quoting the incident number 128. You can also phone on 101. Alternatively you can contact Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

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