LYME REGIS: A mother has hit out at yobs who shot her pet cat with an airgun – leaving her in need of a lifesaving operation.

Heidi Dighton, 17, said she now fears for the safety of her 16-month-old son.

It is thought the pellet tore through Minni’s internal organs, and Heidi has been told it could cause her pet’s lung to collapse.

She said: “She doesn’t wander far, so whoever did it must have been close. It’s terrifying. If they did it to an animal, could they do it to a child?

“If she had been shot in the head it would have killed her.”

Heidi, of North Avenue, was alerted when Minni came home one night.

She said: “She was sort of hyperventilating, breathing really fast.

“I took her to the vets and she had an operation, but they weren’t able to get the pellet out, so it’s still in there.

“If it moves into her lungs it could still kill her.”

Heidi, who is on benefits, said she was left struggling to pay for the operation.

“It cost £500 and the Cats Protection League have been very good, helping me out financially.

“It’s just crazy that there are people that obviously think it’s fun to do these things but they have seriously harmed an animal and left me worrying about paying the bills. It is such an immature and selfish thing to do.”

The incident comes after a number of reports of people using airguns in public across West Dorset.

In July a walker had a narrow escape after airgun pellets were fired ‘at a child’s height’ across a road.

Another cat was shot in the leg in May this year, and there have also been reports of yobs firing airguns at seagulls.

PC Kirsti Ball, Lyme’s Neighbourhood Beat Manager, said there have not been any similar incidents in the town at this time, but urged anyone who may know of people using air rifles to hurt animals to let police know.

She said: “If anyone is found to be using an air rifle to hurt animals, they will be dealt with by police.”