A North Vancouver woman is going through a pet lover's nightmare as her 11month-old cat Maple is paralyzed after being shot with a pellet gun.
The incident happened sometime during the afternoon of Sunday, March 18 in the 3600-block of Emerald Drive.
"We found her in the neighbour's front yard. I could see she was dragging her two legs. She could hardly walk," said Etsuko Yukinaga, Maple's owner.
Yukinaga immediately took Maple to Delbrook Animal Hospital and left her in the care of a veterinarian.
"He showed me an X-ray that showed a pellet in her chest, very close to heart," she said.
The next day Yukinaga, took Maple to a veterinary neurology specialist in Vancouver for more testing. Initial X-rays did not show exactly how damaged Maple's spinal cord is.
Yukinaga said there is some hope, albeit small, that Maple will be able to walk again.
"(The specialist) said there is only a 10 per cent chance or less of her recovery," she said.
The specialist also advised Yukinaga that she would have to make a decision about whether to care for Maple or have her euthanized.
"From Monday until today, it seems she is getting very strong, so my choice is, I'm going to keep her until she dies - maybe another 15 years or 20 years," Yukinaga said. "We're hoping in a week or maybe one month later, she might (walk). It's a 10-per-cent hope, but 10 per cent is good enough for me to take care of her."
Caring for a paralyzed Maple won't be easy or cheap, Yukinaga admits, but she comes from a household that loves its pets - all five cats and a dog.
"Each one is important to us," she said.
Yukinaga said she has no idea who may have attacked Maple but she wants parents in the neighbourhood to talk to their kids about pellet guns.
She reported the incident to North Vancouver RCMP but unless someone comes forward with more information, cases like this rarely go to court.
"They're very difficult to prove unless you have a witness or some evidence to convict them in court," said Cpl. Richard de Jong.
Under the Criminal Code, punishment for harming an animal would range from a fine to a prison sentence of up to five years.
De Jong said cases like this are known to happen, but are not very common in North Van.
In August last year, a cat was kicked to death after being shot with a pellet gun in the East Third Street and St. Patrick's Avenue neighbourhood. Another cat survived being shot with a pellet gun near East 10th Street in 2010.
De Jong said animals are always at risk from vehicles, people or other animals whenever they are allowed outside and out of their owners' sight.