By Kirsty Topping
MORE than 50 racing pigeons worth 30,000 have been beaten to death in a suspected revenge attack.
Sickened pensioner Brian O’Neill told today how he found a scene of utter horror when he visited the prize-winning birds at their loft in Edinburgh.
A thug armed with a stick had battered 42 adult birds and 10 babies to a pulp. Some of the birds were still recovering from a mammoth flight from France to Scotland only the week before.
Mr O’Neill, 70, discovered the scene of devastation on Saturday morning
“I felt absolutely sick, sick to the pit of my stomach.
“The lofts have a dowel front and they’d pulled that off, the padlock hadn’t been touched. There was feathers and blood everywhere. The birds would have had no way to escape.
“A stick had been used to break their necks and backs.
“They killed all the birds inside, except one but that died last night. I was trying to look after it but it must have been too badly injured inside. “
“The SSPCA is going to come down later on and take some of the birds for a post-mortem to see what killed them, but I know what killed them. “
The birds were all racing pigeons and had won many awards for their owner.
“They are just like racehorses,’ he explained.
“They have to be just perfect. Some of these had flown from France just last week.
“My son has a loft full of trophies from clubs I’ve been in. “
Mr O’Neill said that he did not think that the motive for the killings was one of rivalry between pigeon fanciers, but that it stemmed from a personal matter.
The act has devastated his lifetime’s work..
“I’ve had pigeons since I could walk, my brother had pigeons and my father had pigeons, it’s a lifetime’s work.
“They take a lot of time and it’s a lot of money spent on food. “
The callous act has also put an end to Mr O’Neill’s racing hopes for the year.
“The rest of the birds are upset and jumpy, I don’t know if they [the killers] were banging on the walls.
“I won’t be racing this year, it’s a whole year wasted and I’m not young anymore. “
He said that he hoped that if the culprits are caught, that they would receive a suitable punishment.
“I know from experience that a man who did this in the past got three months in prison but what kind of punishment is three months for someone who destroys a lifetime of work? I think they should get more. “
A police spokesman said: “This has been a sickening act of animal cruelty, which has left the birds’ owner extremely upset at the death of his birds.
“Anyone who can assist us in identifying those responsible for this incident is asked to contact police immediately. “
In March this year 47 racing pigeons were killed in Airdrie after their loft was set alight.
The sport involves the birds being set free at a certain location and then recording the time that it takes them to return home.
It requires a specific breed of pigeon which are bred especially for the sport called a “Racing Homer”.