Snaring and trapping are indiscriminate forms of predator control used frequently by the shooting industry. Shooting estates use snares to protect their farmed ‘game’ birds from natural predators so they can later be shot for ‘sport’. All too often however, snares and traps catch the ‘wrong’ animal.

I recently spoke to lady in West Wales whose pet cat, a number of years ago, was unfortunate enough to be caught in a cruel and barbaric trap. Fortunately for Oliver (the cat) he survived, but it cost him a leg. This heart-breaking story is one that sadly is too common. Earlier this month we heard of a similar incident in Barry, South Wales, of a pet fox being caught in a snare as well. In that incident, the fox sadly lost its leg too.

Today, I want to discuss Oliver’s story, as told in part by his loving owner.

“Oliver was a short-haired white cat. Where he came from I never knew. He just turned up on my smallholding, an adult cat, extremely wary of people and desperate enough to come through the cat flap to help himself to dry dog food. He clearly needed a home.”

Oliver, as many cats do, slowly but surely invited himself into the welcoming home of a friendly human. While he remained semi-wild for the first part of his co-habitation with his soon-to-be owner, the nomadic and adventurous side of his life would be brought shuddering to a halt one morning.

“Although the horrific incident I am about to relate happened more than a decade ago, the memory of that dreadful day has not faded. It was a bitterly cold February morning and the ground was frozen hard. I was driving on the farm track on my way out to do my weekly shopping, when I saw Oliver coming slowly across the field with what I first thought was something in his mouth, I then realized with horror that he had a metal object clamped to his front paw. By then he had reached the fence and lay exhausted and in great pain.”

Oliver, had been caught in a trap laid out to catch predators. He was not the intended target - no cat was - but that didn’t stop him being caught. It didn’t stop him losing his leg.

Oliver’s owner acted fast, freeing him from the trap and rushing him to the vets for treatment.

“Then there was the mad dash to the vet five miles away, where Oliver was admitted straight away. The crushing injuries were so severe that amputation was the only option other than euthanasia. Amputation would require at least three weeks post-operative care in a cage which, for a semi-wild cat like Oliver, would be very stressful. However, as far as I was concerned, euthanasia was out of the question.”

Fortunately, in this instance Oliver survived. Although he was cruelly put through an immense amount of pain, suffering and stress he ultimately lived a happy life – living for over a decade after this incident – although the all-action, adventurous lifestyle he led before this incident was largely over.

“There is a happy ending. Oliver recovered and adapted well to life on three legs. He lost most of his fear of people and formed a deep friendship with my rescue Border Collie. He lived well into old age.

“However, whenever we have a very cold, frozen February, as we did this year, I am reminded that if the trap had been fixed & Oliver not found, he would have died a slow and terrible death. Who set the trap was never established, and the awful thing is that person is probably someone I know.”

Masie – a cat who lost her leg to a snare in Lancashire in 2015Masie – a cat who lost her leg to a snare in Lancashire in 2015

Oliver’s story is one of incredible pain and suffering, but also a heart-warming story of the kindness many of us have in our hearts, particularly for animals in need.

It is also however symbolic of the inherent issue of snaring and trapping. They are indiscriminate. There is no way to prevent non-target species including pets from being caught in a snare.

This time Oliver was the unfortunate one, but it could be any animal.

Stories like this will reappear time and time again until there is a full ban on the sale, manufacture, possession and use of snares. That is why, we are calling on all parties to support a ban on snaring at elections in Wales this May.

Join our campaign to end snaring in Wales – www.bredtodie.co.uk