As bad a couple of months as this has been for fox hunting (including the leaked Hunting office webinars with their talk of ‘smokescreens’ and ‘soft underbelly’, landowners and private individuals banning hunts from huge areas of the countryside, councils finally seeing through the lie that is so-called ‘trail hunting’), it’s been even worse for the animals that the hunts have illegally chased, harassed, and killed despite the Hunting Act (and lockdown).
We’ll never know how many animals ‘out of control’ hunt hounds have killed this ‘season’ so far (and that’s despite the heroic efforts of monitors and hunt sabs to steer wildlife to safety week in, week out), but mainstream journalists are now at least reporting some of the horrors inflicted on animals by the ‘hooligans on horseback’.
For example, back in October the Daily Mail headlined the disgraceful behaviour of the York and Ainsty South’s Mark Poskitt who was filmed ‘picking up the bloodied carcass of a fox cub during hunt‘ (see – More #trailhuntlies – this time it’s in the national media). Just a few days ago ITV News featured a report by Rupert Evelyn of a fox killed on cc tv by the notorious Kimblewick Hunt (see – ITV News shows Kimblewick Hunt killing a fox). And now Jane Dalton of The Independent is covering the unforgivable killing of a family cat called Spider by the High Peak Hunt who were out ‘exercising their hounds’…
Under the headline “Hunt apologises after ‘out of control’ hounds kill pet cat in garden“, the Independent’s journalist details how Spider had been sitting “on a wall at the end of her yard when the hounds came running” and eventually “snatched the terrified animal from under a car in a private garden and “shook her like a rag doll” “- a perfect description of the way hunt hounds and terriers will fiercely shake or ‘rag’ foxes when they catch them.
The Hunt – of course – apologised (they always do) and hunt organisers will apparently review their procedures “to prevent another pet being killed“. ‘Out of control’ – ‘professional’ – ‘sorry’ – ‘won’t happen again’ – blah blah blah. Clearly the Hunt have forgotten about the killing of another pet cat by their ‘out of control’ hounds back in 2006 – the then joint huntmaster Bob Graham using the same ‘out of control’ excuse saying that “some of the younger hounds, who are more difficult to control, got to the animal and the rest of the pack followed“…
But then maybe 2006 is far too long ago for this forgetful mob to remember. Then how about when their hounds were filmed by Nottingham Hunt Sabs running ‘out of control’ across fields as they chased a cow and her calf? That was less than eight weeks ago after all…
The problem – again, of course – is that the apologies mean absolutely nothing, and their ‘procedures’ will inevitably lead to both wild and domestic animals being killed as we explain below. Perhaps one day soon journalists (who probably know the law as well as we do) won’t feel compelled to print the inevitable excuses trotted out by hunts after every incident like this as ‘balance’ (most journalists don’t interview muggers or vandals to get their side of the story), or will be allowed column space to analyse incidents like these more deeply (pointing out perhaps that pet cats are considered ‘personal property’ and that under the Criminal Damage Act 1971 an offence may be committed if a person “without lawful excuse, kills or injures a cat belonging to another person“).
When that day comes they’d probably agree with us and numerous other activists that If the hunts genuinely wanted to avoid ‘accidents’ with ‘out of control’ hounds they wouldn’t train their dogs to kill animals, because that is exactly what hunts train their dogs to do. And they do have to be trained to do it, which is what the disgusting form of animal abuse known as ‘cubbing’ – where hounds are trained to kill using inexperienced fox cubs – is all about (see – Cubbing | An autumn sickness).
So why is it inevitable that more animals will be killed? It doesn’t take a Pulitzer-prize winning investigator to understand that there is an absolute 100% certainty that while hunts a) are allowed to get away with saying that what they do is so-called ‘trail hunting’ (see – Language Matters | Smokescreen/Trail Hunting) without any evidence of trails being laid, b) take out dogs that they have trained to kill (and there really isn’t much difference in size between a well-fed family cat and a wild fox or a hare), and c) aren’t questioned much more strongly about why it’s apparently okay for a hunt to ‘lose control’ of a pack of thirty or more dogs that then kill an animal without facing a police inquiry when a pet dog attacking another animal in, say, a public park might be put to death, it is inevitable that this will happen again. Perhaps not by the same hunt, but it will happen again.
Which almost inevitably leads us to ask, What is it that makes hunts different to the rest of us?
After all, we wrote above about what the Criminal Damage Act 1971 had to say about persons killing pet cats – and here’s what the government itself says on its website about dog control:
And the penalties if you or I break the law? The government uses its sternest voice when it gives the answer: “You can get an unlimited fine or be sent to prison for up to 6 months (or both) if your dog is dangerously out of control. You may not be allowed to own a dog in the future and your dog may be destroyed.”
Ooh-er. That sounds clear cut enough. But hang on a minute, hunts don’t seem to face the same sanctions and punishments as us ordinary folk do they. What is it that makes hunts different to the rest of us, we wonder?
It couldn’t possibly be that hunts…unlike ‘you’… include politicians, solicitors, and former police officers in their number, could it?
Hunt apologises after ‘out of control’ hounds kill pet cat in garden
A hunt has apologised unreservedly after its hounds killed a much-loved pet cat as they “ran out of control”.
One dog snatched the terrified animal from under a car in a private garden and “shook her like a rag doll”, the owner told The Independent.
The hounds “ran ahead of the horses uncontrolled” while the riders were out exercising in Bakewell, Derbyshire.
Hunt organisers said they were reviewing their procedures to prevent another pet being killed.
Rebecca Bingham said her two-year-old cat, called Spider, was sitting on a wall at the end of her yard when the hounds came running.
“Before she had chance to move, one jumped up on the wall,” she said. “She then dodged and hid underneath the car, but it crawled under after her, brought her out, jaws clamped around her stomach, and shook her like a rag doll.
“But by the time we managed to get the dog to release her, she was the gasping for air, and within a minute she was passed away.”
The hounds had frequently tried to push through the family’s gate to get to their cats or the cat food they put down, Ms Bingham said, adding: “We have had to remove them from our property more than once because of this.”
A friend of hers posted on Facebook: “Please if you know of, or see anything, anywhere, report it as wildlife crime. This isn’t okay, and no one should have to worry about their precious babies being injured or losing their life due to some folk enjoying this so-called ‘sport’.”
A spokesperson from the High Peak Hunt said the hounds were being walked out in an area where they were routinely exercised without incident by professional hunt staff.
The statement added: “The hunt has been in contact with the cat owner and apologised unreservedly for the distress this has caused.
“Incidents of this nature involving hounds are incredibly rare due to the professionalism with which the hounds are handled in kennels and throughout their lives; however, the hunt has taken this matter very seriously and is reviewing their procedures to prevent any reoccurrence.”Jane Dalton, Hunt apologises after ‘out of control’ hounds kill pet cat in garden, 29 Dec 2020
- Follow Jane Dalton on Twitter at JournoJane
If you’d like to support this growing movement towards a better countryside, please let your own council know that you want hunts banned. And why not consider joining LACS or the Hunt Sabs as a ‘feel-good’ Christmas present to our wildlife – or at the very least please let the Hunt Sabs know when you see hunts out and about breaking the law: