A HELENSBURGH pet owner has spoken of her “rage” after her cat almost had to have its paw amputated when its leg got caught in an animal snare.

Gem Donnelly woke up late on Saturday night to the sound of her one-and-a-half-year-old cat Athena chirping.

Investigating, Gem found the cat tucked away in her linen press.

Gem told the Advertiser: “I thought she just got stuck or she was being lazy, so I picked her off my towels and placed her down on my floor.

“I turned back around after closing the door to find her wobbling and limping not bearing any weight down on her right hind leg. I was thinking for a moment I was imagining things until I picked her up then found a gaping wound in her foot.

“I couldn’t see any blood and the wound looked like there was no blood. I checked back in my linen press and found no blood either, I, in turn, investigated my house, every nook and cranny but nothing.

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“I wasn’t able to get a ride into Glasgow emergency vets, and after getting advice from someone I know regarding issues like this I waited until the vets were open on Sunday morning to bring her in with the help of a friend driving me.”

And it was at the vet’s surgery that Gem was told the injury was almost certainly the result of Athena’s leg getting caught in a snare designed to trap larger animals.

Gem believes the incident occurred around Helensburgh Cemetery on Old Luss Road where Athena normally prowls, and, more worryingly, where children play.

Gem said: “My rage when the vets confirmed it was most likely a snare was intense. I was shaking and still am, these traps are illegal for not just the risk they pose to wild animals but also domesticated animals and humans.

“I wouldn’t wish that barbaric pain on any creature. I am also deeply disturbed that someone laid such a barbaric instrument where children freely run around.

“My street and the surrounding streets are full of children constantly out and playing.

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“I am also a mother and if my child had to suffer from a snare, I couldn’t even imagine the rage I would experience.

“Whoever thought it was a bright idea clearly has no idea what the law is and how much damage they could inflict. If they do, they are simply evil.”

Scottish SPCA chief superintendent, Mike Flynn, said: “We’re sorry to hear about the incident in Helensburgh and wish the poor cat a speedy recovery. Every year we are alerted to multiple animals caught in snares who have been caused an immense amount of suffering, leading to their death.

“The Scottish SPCA is in favour of an outright ban on the use of snares in Scotland.

“Snaring is legal subject to very stringent conditions. We see a lot of cases of illegal snaring, or legal snares being used illegally.

“The use of snares is very technical and time-consuming and unless a person is willing to dedicate the time and effort, it’s highly likely an animal’s welfare will be compromised.

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“If a snare is set, it’s a legal requirement to check the snare within 24 hours to avoid unnecessary suffering.

“Snares are non-selective and can just as easily harm a domestic animal, as we’ve seen in this case, along with non-targeted wildlife.

“The suffering an animal endures in illegal snares is horrific and while snaring continues, suffering will continue.

“If anyone finds a snare, we ask that you leave it untouched and contact our confidential animal helpline on 03000 999 999 if you believe it to have been set illegally.”