Belfast Telegraph

Outrage after cat caught in west Belfast alleyway trap... but man who put it there says it's perfectly legal

BY LINDA STEWART

This kitten was rescued from a steel trap set in a Belfast alleyway.

Residents of Dungloe Crescent in west Belfast were shocked to discover that one of their neighbours was trapping cats in the alley – but were even more horrified when an animal welfare officer from Belfast City Council told them it was perfectly legal.

They were told that the man claimed to be trapping feral cats and delivering them to the Cats Protection League.

But when contacted by the Belfast Telegraph, the League confirmed that no such cats had been handed over to them.

One resident branded the animal welfare service "completely ineffective" after he confiscated the trap and adopted the captive cat himself.

"A neighbour came to our door. It was about 8am on a Sunday morning and they had found it trapped in a big steel trap in a dark alleyway near us," he said.

"They heard the screaming and they got up early and freed it.

"When it was caught, this one was about six weeks old.

"The wee thing was in distress according to the neighbours, running round and round in the cage. It didn't look like an authorised trap."

Neighbours went round the doors to find out who was responsible and one man admitted it, he said.

"When they said to him that is was animal cruelty, he was really rude to them and slammed the door in his face," the resident said.

"My neighbours have had to get their pets microchipped in case anything happens. I hate to think what he's doing with them.

"Goodness knows how many cats have gone missing that we don't know about, but we do know of two that have gone missing in the last year-and-a-half."

The resident has named the new kitten Dingo and it lives in a kennel in the back garden.

"It's been in the house quite a few times and it's anything but feral," he said.

The man admitted setting the trap when he was visited by an animal welfare officer after residents complained.

"The officer told us he was within his rights to trap cats in a public alley, even though he had no authorisation from any cat charities. Quite basically the officer had given him free rein to trap any cat he wanted and treat them like vermin and say it was legal for him to do so, without investigating how he acquired the trap, what his intentions were and whether there was any record of him handing any cats over to the relevant authorities," the resident said.

Bel Livingstone, centre manager with the Cats Protection League, said: "I can confirm that these cats are not being handed over to us at the Belfast Adoption Centre."

Belfast City Council said it had received a number of complaints about the trapping of cats in the area.

"The person undertaking the activity does have certain obligations with regard to the welfare of any animals in his control, and these have been explained to him by our animal welfare officers.

"It is our understanding that the person concerned also has sought legal advice on the matter."

QUOTES

"With regard to traps, DOE has responsibility for this legislation. DARD has no powers to manage or curtail the number of feral cats. DARD has responsibility for the Welfare of Animals Act 2011. Under this legislation it is an offence to cause an animal, including a feral cat, any unnecessary suffering. It is also an offence to abandon an animal."

A DARD spokesman

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