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Pack of foxhounds hounds on the road. The legs of horses can also be seen.

Yet another pet is seriously injured by hunting hounds

Essex and Suffolk Hunt hounds mauled a pet dog in Layham, Suffolk, on 15 August. The hounds were being exercised when the attack happened.

Local news outlet, Hadleigh Nub News, reported that the labradoodle dog needed treatment from a vet, and that “the elderly dog walker was left shocked and upset by the incident.”

Terrorised every two weeks

Attacks by hunting hounds on domesticated animals are common in the hunting world. League Against Cruel Sports figures found that there were at least 55 incidents of livestock worrying, and at least 22 incidents of domestic animal worrying in the 2022/23 hunting season. Meanwhile, a Protect the Wild report showed that between 1 October 2020 and 4 January 2021 domestic animals or livestock were terrorised by hunts “on average every two weeks”. It’s likely that a number of incidents weren’t reported, so the real figure is probably even higher.

When a cat called Mini was murdered by hounds of the Western Hunt in March 2021, we campaigned hard alongside Mini’s guardian to try to protect other animals from a similar fate. Mini was mauled to death by a pack of fox hunting hounds next to her home on a housing estate in Cornwall. The huntsman was caught on film, looking behind him to check if he was being watched, and then throwing Mini’s dead body over a fence into a back garden in an attempt to hide what happened. Mini’s guardian said that the man “launched [Mini] as far as he could get her”, and her body hit a tree as it fell.

 

Since Mini’s death, absolutely nothing has changed.

In January 2022, Essex and Suffolk hounds once again chased a domesticated animal. Barney the horse had to be put down after the hounds raced onto private land. Barney bolted and broke his leg. The Hunt, apparently, offered their condolences.

On top of this, Protect the Wild previously reported on the following incidents during the 2022/23 hunting season:

December 2022: A woman was forced to throw her pet dog over a fence to save her from a “dangerously out of control” pack of hounds in Cumbria.

January 2023: A pet rhea went missing from his home after being chased by hounds in Northamptonshire.

January 2023: A sheep drowned after Grafton Hunt hounds ran out of control in a farmer’s field. The ewes, who were all pregnant, scattered, breaking out of their field, and some fled into a river to escape.

January 2023: Hounds from the Mendip Farmers Hunt (MFH) caused havoc as they tore through Chew Valley Animal Park. Mendip Hunt Sabs said at the time: “The park owner described to us how the hounds were jumping into animal pens with goats and camels, traumatising them and other resident animals. Some of the affected goats are pregnant, causing immense concern for their welfare following the incident. All affected animals are being checked over by the park’s vet and they intend to send the vet bills to the hunt.”

Hunting of Mammals Bill

According to the law, it is illegal to let a dog be dangerously out of control anywhere, such as:

  • In a public place
  • In a private place, for example a neighbour’s house or garden
  • In the owner’s home

 

A dog is considered dangerously out of control if he or she:

  • makes someone worried (the wording of the legislation says ‘reasonable apprehension’) that they may injured by the dog.
  • injures someone.

 

A court could also decide that a dog is dangerously out of control if:

  • the dog attacks someone’s animal; or
  • the owner of an animal thinks they could be injured if they tried to stop the dog attacking their animal.

 

Despite this, hunts continue to get away with their dogs terrorising neighbourhoods, and they face no consequences. Many animal rights activists are campaigning for the Hunting Act to be strengthened so that incidents like those mentioned in this article will be against the law, and so that those responsible for the hounds can be prosecuted. But Protect the Wild argues that this doesn’t go far enough. The loopholes and exemptions that hunts use need to be removed entirely, not argued about for years to come.

We argue that the Hunting Act needs to be abolished and replaced with a new Hunting of Mammals Bill that will, among other things, at last add a ‘reckless’ hunting clause by making it a crime to ‘intentionally or recklessly’ hunt a wild mammal with a dog.

 

  • You can read about the Hunting of Mammals Bill here.
  • And you can sign our petition for a Proper Ban on hunting here. Together we can consign hunting with dogs to the history books.