latest news

Cat killed during hunt
19 January 2007

A hunt hound was seen entering a private garden and killing a cat, according to a report in the Limerick Leader. The creature was found by distraught neighbours during a harrier hunt on St Stephen's Day.

Quoted in the article, local woman Mary Cooke said neighbours saw the cat being killed by the hound. "The cat was very old and her hind legs were gone and she couldn't run," Ms Cook said. "I am hardly able to sleep at night thinking about it. It is revolting."

Although a hunt spokesperson tried to claim to the newspaper that hounds "would never follow a cat", it emerged that members of the hunt "approached the owners of the cat and apologised for the incident".

ICABS has also been told that an attempt was made to remove the dead cat from the scene following the incident. "I shouted at the hunt follower four times to come back," an eyewitness said. "He was letting on he was taking the cat to the vet (at this stage the cat was dead). Some of the hunt crowd were laughing."

This is the latest hunt-related incident involving attacks on domestic pets. Please see below for related articles from our campaign newsletter which convey the threats to pets posed by hunting groups.

Dead cat
Amy, the cat who was found dead during a hunt. Locals saw a hound coming into a garden and killing her.

Action Item

Please write to the Minister for the Environment and the National Parks and Wildlife Service. Demand full protection for the hares and foxes killed by hunting groups and express your concerns about the continued attacks on pets.

Minister Dick Roche
Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government
Custom House
Dublin 1
Tel: 01-8882403
Fax: 01-8788640

Jamie Mulleady
National Parks and Wildlife Service
7 Ely Place
Dublin 2

ICABS response to Limerick Leader report on cat killing
(Letter to the Editor)

In a Limerick Leader editorial in August 2000, a hunting group was severely criticised for causing chaos when hounds came on to the N21 and brought traffic to a standstill. We were told that haughty hunters atop stately steeds bossed motorists into forming tailbacks in all directions. The conclusion was that "hounds are dogs, and dogs in a public place are required to be on leashes."

If only this had been the case on St Stephen's Day when, as reported in the Leader of 12th January 2006, a hunt hound was seen entering a private garden and killing a defenceless pet. The Irish Council Against Blood Sports shares the revulsion of locals who witnessed what can only be described as a cat lover's worst nightmare.

Our advice to those who experience any such incursion is to notify the Gardai and quote the Control of Dogs Act. This important piece of legislation makes it very clear that the owner or person in charge of a dog shall not permit the dog to be on the premises of another person without their consent. The dog must be kept under "effectual control", it states.

Hunt hounds attacking pets is certainly not the unusual phenomenon alluded to by the quoted hunt spokesperson. Is anyone convinced by his claim that hounds, specifically trained to kill, "would never follow a cat"?

There are several precedents to show that it's not just wildlife that suffers as a result of marauding hounds. Not so long ago, an 8-year-old girl was left distraught after hunt hounds fatally mauled her beloved cat in a back garden. The Belfast Telegraph reported that a group of youngsters "saw the dogs in a complete frenzy and heard the squeals of the cat as she was attacked". Meanwhile, a sheep dog on a Galway farm miraculously survived an encounter with a pack of foxhounds. The creature suffered injuries to its paws, back and hind quarters and had to endure a week of veterinary attention before hobbling home. Farm animals like sheep and cattle have also been victims.

It may be the unfortunate pets which get the headlines but let nobody forget the plight of our wildlife. Away from the public gaze, the Irish countryside is littered with the disembowelled remains of foxes and hares. Chased to exhaustion for hours on end and then brutally attacked, their suffering is equally reprehensible.

Philip Kiernan
Irish Council Against Blood Sports

The Limerick Leader report
(12 January 2007)

Hunt denies hounds killed cat
By Deirdre McGrath

A County Limerick woman has urged organisers of the Limerick Harriers Hunt to let homeowners know when they are holding a hunt in their area so that people can protect their domestic pets. Mary Cooke from Ballyclough said she [is] deeply upset at the death of a 13-year-old cat called Amy, who she claims was killed by hounds belonging to the Limerick Harriers who were hunting in the area on St Stephen's Day.

Amy was a domestic pet owned by Ms Cooke's neighbours, who weren't aware that a hunt would be in progress on the day. "I am very upset. The hounds went into a private garden. The cat was very old and her hind legs were gone and she couldn't run. I am hardly able to sleep at night thinking about it. It is revolting," said Ms Cooke, who often looked after Amy when her neighbours were away. She said that neighbours witnessed the cat being killed by a hound.

Ms Cooke said that many of her neighbours are concerned for the welfare of young children who may be playing in gardens and faced with a pack of hounds. She said that the Limerick Harriers should give people clear prior to every the hunt so that they can protect their children and domestic animals who may be at risk. "People should be warned. There are a lot of new houses in the area. There are many people from the city living here and do not know anything about the hunt," she said. John McNamara, joint master of the Limerick Harriers said that a hound would never follow a cat and said he could not say for certain if this particular cat was killed by one of the hunt's hounds.

"I genuinely believe the cat was dying or dead and one of the hounds picked him up. We meet cats all the time and the hounds would never follow a cat, but they would pick something up if they saw it on the ground. This has never happened before. I can't explain it, the cat had no visible injuries," he said. Mr McNamara assured members of the public that the hounds would pose absolutely no danger to young children. "The hounds are very friendly and are often shy. I genuinely believe the cat was dying and one of the hounds picked it up," he said. Members of the Limerick Harriers approached the owners of the cat and apologised for the incident. Mr McNamara said that all farmers are sent out cards informing them that a hunt is taking place in their area but he said it would be impossible to inform every householder in a particular area. "We card all the farmers, but it would be impossible to get around to every house in an area," he said.

Girl's pet cat ripped apart by foxhounds
Animal Voice, Autumn/Winter 2005

An eight-year-old girl was left in tears after she learned that her beloved pet cat, Mitzi, was ripped apart by a pack of hunt hounds.

The appalling incident took place on St Patrick's Day when hounds from the Banbridge-based Iveagh Hunt ran riot in a residential area in Lurgan, Co Down.

The vicious attack was witnessed by local children out playing. They were horrified to see the dogs coming into a back garden, descending on the cat and mauling it to death. The Belfast Telegraph reported that the youngsters "saw the dogs in a complete frenzy and heard the squeals of the cat as she was attacked".

In a report in the Lurgan Mail, an official of the hunt tried to dismiss the eye witness account of what occurred. He was quoted as saying that "it's only children who saw it", as if their word didn't matter.

The Iveagh Hunt's bad behaviour didn't stop there, according to the newspaper report. They also allegedly trespassed on to farm land. The son of a local farmer told the paper how the hunt "ploughed through the fields and pulled down fence posts".

"[They] came up here and opened all the gates and yards," he went on to say. "A cow and a calf at my father's yard just down the road escaped for about an hour. They left mud all over the roads and then just left."

Meanwhile, an Iveagh Hunt joint master and Ronan Gorman of Countryside Alliance attempted to pour oil on troubled waters.

The latter claimed that "the hounds wouldn't ordinarily chase a cat never mind attack." And he carried on in this incredible vein, stating that "When in full cry, which isn't frequently, [hounds] are obviously difficult to call back. The cat must have run across their path." Added to this was another outrageous statement from the hunt's joint master who declared that "the hounds are not vicious, they're just like any other pet."

As for their claims that foxhounds are pets and attacks like this are rare, this is certainly not the case. Foxhounds are trained to hunt as a pack and kill. There are several documented cases of hunt hounds attacking domestic pets. In 2002, for example, we reported in Animal Watch how a sheep dog was viciously attacked by hunt hounds in Galway. The dog survived, miraculously, but suffered severe injuries.

Girl holding cat basket sitting next to her mother
A Lurgan Mail photo showing a sad and dejected Zara Spence with her mother, Audrey. Zara is seen here holding the basket which her cat, Mitzi, used before being brutally killed by foxhounds.

According to the Belfast Telegraph, an apology from the Iveagh hunt was subsequently issued for the cat killing.

But, of course, it was no consolation to the distraught girl whose pet suffered the same fate as that of the wildlife which normally fall victim to packs of hounds.

Her mother, Audrey Spence, described the gruesome state of the unfortunate cat as follows: "Its legs were pulled off, head pulled off, and insides ripped out."

Responding to the incident, the Ulster SPCA's CEO, Stephen Philpott, renewed the group's call for a hunt ban.

"The need for a total ban on hunting with dogs has been brutally outlined by the obscene spectacle of a child's pet being torn to shreds in the sanctuary of an urban garden," he stated.

The demand for a hunt ban was echoed by Ms Spence. She said: "Before this, hunting would not have annoyed me but now, I can't tolerate it at all. It is an absolutely disgusting, cruel sport that should be banned immediately."

Garden invaded by staghounds
Animal Voice, Autumn/Winter 2005

A homeowner in County Meath was furious to find a pack of hunting hounds bounding into her garden.

The dogs, from the Ward Union Hunt, ran onto the lawn, around the rear of the house and across the driveway. The homeowner was seen frantically chasing the dogs off the property and shouting at them to "Get out".

As the woman did her best to clear the dogs, a mounted Ward Union hunter called out to the pack but he remained out of the homeowner's sight by halting his horse behind a boundary hedge.

The dogs pushed their way through the barrier and back onto the road before the red-coated hunter galloped away with them behind him.

According to ICABS monitors at the scene, there was no apology from the hunter to the homeowner.

This is just the latest example of hunt hounds invading private property.

Our advice to landowners who experience this type of incident is to immediately call the Gardai. Under the Control Of Dogs Act, 1986, the owner or person in charge of a dog shall not permit the dog to be on the premises of another person without the consent of that person. The person in charge of the dogs must keep the them under "effectual control", the Act states.

Staghound beyond driveway gate
One of several Ward Union staghounds which ICABS witnessed running around the property of a County Meath homeowner. (Photo: Philip Kiernan)

Pack attack dog
Animal Watch, Issue 1, 2002

Meet the dog that survived an horrific attack by a pack of foxhounds.

The sheep dog, owned by a farmer in County Galway, is very lucky to be alive. As our picture shows the unfortunate animal suffered injuries to its hind quarters, its back and also its paws.

Sheep dog with injuries
Survivor: The farmer's dog that was mauled by foxhounds.

Thanks to a week of veterinary attention, the badly shaken dog is back on his feet.

The incident is said to have taken place during a hunt meeting just before Christmas.

It remains unconfirmed whether the hunt in question were trespassing on the land on which the attack took place. Regardless, here we have yet another instance of a hunt being more of a threat to the farming community than foxes ever could be.

News Menu | Join | Top | Home