UNICOI COUNTY, Tenn. - Residents in Unicoi, Tennessee are upset with a local shooting range after they found their pet missing part of its paw.
They think the injury was the result of a stray bullet shot by people using the range inappropriately.
People living near the Scioto Gun Range in Unicoi know to expect loud noises. "People jump. I jumped for a long time, being outside was really startling. You get kind of used to it," said a local woman who didn't want to reveal her identity.
However, what they didn't anticipate were people not using the range safely. The resident we spoke to said she was stunned when she came home to find her cat's paw injured by what she says was a bullet. "It was just blown to pieces," she told us.
She tells us she's concerned there could be more instances like this one. "It could be my cat today. Tomorrow it could be somebody's kid or family member walking down the road and gets hit by a stray bullet," said the resident.
The rules are clearly stated when entering the range -- they say you're only to shoot toward designated areas, but this resident says she doesn't believe that is the case.
We searched the range for some evidence that people weren't playing by the rules and found over a dozen bullet holes in a nearby garbage can; three of the bullets made their way out and headed straight for homes.
We spoke with Keith Kelley with the Cherokee National Forest and he told us they do periodic checks to make sure people are using it appropriately. "You can't stop everyone from doing [bad] things, but for the most part you try to make patrols to those areas to make sure people are doing what they're supposed to," said Kelley.
Kelley says if it continues, there is a possibility it could ruin the fun for everyone, even those following the rules. "If things get abused, then you run the risk of having to lose what you can do in an area," he said.
Officials with the Cherokee National Forest said they don't plan to move the range farther into the forest, because they told us there is no place where residents are not close by.