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Sunday, 26 October 2014

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Fears cats being stolen in Cumbria to be used as hunting dogs bait

Cat-lovers are scared their pets have been kidnapped to be used as bait to help train hunting dogs.

A number of the animals have gone missing in Aspatria over recent weeks.

Rumours are circulating around the area that they are being stolen and used to help train hunting dogs.

These stories have not been confirmed, but they have resulted in a climate of fear among cat owners.

Alex Christie, 31, of Spring Kell, last saw his one-year-old tabby Oscar three weeks ago.

He said: “There are cats that have been going missing around the area. I’ve heard there are people with dogs and they have been setting their dogs on the cats.”

Mr Christie, who works in a coffee shop, has three other cats and is now worried about their safety.

“I’m trying my best to keep them indoors but cats are cats. I’m trying to restrict when they go out.”

He described Oscar as an affectionate animal who was black and brown with some small white patches.

“I know cats go off from time to time but I have got this horrible feeling,” he added.

Bill Finlay, who represents Aspatria on Allerdale Council and is a neighbourhood watch area said: “Rumours are spreading that someone in the community is 'kidnapping' them and throwing them to their dogs to harden them for hunting.

“However, there has been no direct evidence to date that this is actually what is happening.

“It is possible that the cats may have been killed by fox cubs.”

Police officers have heard about the issue via several anonymous messages which they have not been able to follow up.

PC Claire Lawler said: “The police are taking this matter very seriously, but our hands are tied at present by the lack of any firm evidence. We cannot interview or arrest people on the basis of rumours alone.”

She added: “If these allegations are based on actual events, we understand that witnesses or victims might feel intimidated. Anyone contacting the police offering evidence will need to give us their basic contact details, which we will of course keep confidential.”

If anyone has seen Oscar they can contact Mr Christie on 07757 816177.

Anyone with any information on the rumours can contact police on 101 or the West Cumbria RSPCA on 01946 725568.

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