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Mother tells of her distress after family cat set on fire in Hillsborough

PSNI are investigating after 'utterly disgusting' attack

By Claire Williamson

Published 10/03/2016

Tiger before the injury.
Tiger before the injury.

A pet cat has suffered serious injuries after it was set on fire in Hillsborough.

Tiger is an 18-month-old long haired Tabby has been treated at a veterinary clinic for burns after he was set alight on Thursday afternoon.

His owner, Mrs Stephen could not believe the "awful" sight she came home to on Thursday when she saw her "totally unrecognisable" cat.

The mother-of-two told the Belfast Telegraph: "Tiger was a long-haired Tabby and I came home to a cat that looked like somebody had shaved him.

"And when he got closer I smelt him. The vet said it was like someone had thrown an accelerant up his back and then lit him.

"He has third degrees burns on his back and back legs and he has no fur apart from the odd tufts up his side. He has no whiskers and a burnt ear - he's not in particularly good shape."

On Thursday Tiger was crying to be let in when Mrs Stephens returned home and at first she wasn't sure it was her cat because he was "totally unrecognisable".

She said: "When I opened the door he shot in and hid. He just went into a wee corner and hid when I went in after him. And then the smell hit me and I knew he had been set on fire."

The mother-of-two is distraught and faces the heartbreaking task of telling her two daughters aged 9 and 10 tonight about what has happened.

She said: "I don't understand how anyone could do that. I have two small children and I don't know how to tell them.

"He has been put in baby clothes and pushed about in buggies, I'm going to have to tell them tonight that the cat had an accident of some sort.

"They are going to be distraught."

Tiger is now on his way home from the vet and while his owner is hopeful of the police investigation she wondered where would you start to find the culprit.

She said: "It's awful to think that somebody would do it - but especially in a rural setting.

"Where do you start looking for somebody who does something like this?"

Police in Lisburn and Castlereagh, and Animal Welfare, are investigating the incident in the Kernaghan Park area which happened before 5pm.

Chief Inspector Derek McCamley said: “This is utterly disgusting. Someone has taken it upon themselves to set a family pet on fire. Tiger’s owner is understandably shocked and very upset and all officers and staff at Lisburn and Castlereagh PSNI hope the little cat makes a full recovery.

"It is hard to understand why someone would do this to a defenceless vulnerable family pet but we need to know who did this.

"We need to speak to anyone who was in the area of Kernaghan Park Hillsborough before 5pm on Wednesday March 9 when the cat was found. "

Chief Inspector McCamley has advised all pet owners to make sure their animals are safe and secure.

He said: "We are a nation of animal lovers. We lavish love and affection on our pets like they are members of our family. This incident is shocking and it will upset pet owners far and wide.

"While we have no information to suggest that this is anything more than an isolated incident, I would ask all pet owners to make sure their animals are safe and secure. We don’t want another animal lover to feel the distress that Tiger’s owners are feeling at this time."

If anyone saw or heard anything untoward and can give police descriptions of anyone in the area throughout the day the number to call is 101 and ask to speak to Lisburn PSNI but if you would rather pass information anonymously you can call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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