Concern that hound attacks "could result in the death of a child"
20 March 2009
The Vice-President of the European Parliament's Intergroup on Family and Child Protection has called on Minister Brendan Smith to ban hunting with hounds. Referring to recent attacks on pets and fears expressed for the safety of children, the Independent MEP for Munster, Kathy Sinnott, said she was "greatly concerned that, if action is not taken, such attacks could result in the death of a child."
Kathy Sinnott's move was prompted by an ICABS alert to politicians in which we highlighted the continuing killing of pets by packs of hounds. We flagged media reports which reveal the suffering caused to pets, the distress experienced by pet owners and fears for the safety of children. The latest incident saw an elderly couple traumatised after they witnessed their cat being viciously mauled to death.
The 77-year-old Meath resident expressed fears for herself and her 90-year-old husband after some of the hounds ran into their house following the kill. Her daughter stated: "If my mother's great grand children had been in the house or the garden, they're only tiny tots, [the dogs] could have killed them."
"I am concerned that the lack of control of hounds for blood sports could result in further death and destruction," Kathy Sinnott stated in her correspondence to the Agriculture Minister. "The most recent episode involving hound brutality is the savage killing of an elderly couple's cat in Meath. Similar events have occurred in Wexford, Limerick, and Northern Ireland. Farm animals have frequently been the victims of similar attacks. I urge you to work to ensure that the Animal Health and Welfare Bill bans the use of dogs for such violence."
This is just the latest incident which has left a pet dead or severely injured. Other past victims have included farm animals and humans (a hunt servant was killed by hounds while a householder in Leinster was badly bitten when cornered in her garage). This is not the first time either that fears have been expressed for the safety of children - please scroll down for more details.
URGENT ACTION ALERT - SAMPLE LETTER
Minister Brendan Smith
Kildare Street, Dublin 2.
Tel: Locall 1890 200 510 or 01-6072000
Dear Minister Smith,
I support MEP Kathy Sinnott's call on you to ban hunting on the grounds not only of animal cruelty but also child safety. As revealed by the Irish Council Against Blood Sports, there is a growing list of incidents involving brutal attacks on pets and fears expressed by adults for the safety of children. For the wildlife and pets that have suffered the most appalling injuries and deaths during hunts and the children at risk from these killer hounds, I urge you to ensure that the new Animal Health & Welfare Bill makes hunting with hounds an offence and imposes massive penalties on anyone caught engaging in this shameful activity.
Thank you. I look forward to your positive response.
Children and hunts
A 6-year-old boy was left hysterical and screaming in terror as Ireland's oldest hunt came thundering through a farmyard in County Cork. The boy's mother told RTE's Liveline programme that she feared for her children's safety and roared at the hunters to get out. "The hunt horses came within three yards of the concrete yard where my kids were playing," she said. "[Me and my aunt] went out obviously - because my children were out there and I wanted to protect my children - and we started roaring at them to get out of there, they had no permission," she added. "They were so close to me that there were spatters of muck on my clothes. I was shouting at my children to stay behind me. My son was hysterical; he was running around the yard and I was shouting at him to get into the house." [Terror as hunt invades farmyard, ICABS Website, 28 February 2007]
In the February 3rd 2007 edition of the Meath Chronicle, a report headed "Furious backlash against hunt", a school principal whose grounds was invaded by hunters and hounds said that the quick reactions of staff and parents had "averted what could have been a catastrophe had the children been out". The ordeal was “frightening and dangerous” and the “children were very upset”, she told the Chronicle, adding that she and the children had said a prayer the next day "to thank God that everyone was safe".
"The school staff and parents immediately swung into action to ensure the safety of the children," the principle of Kildalkey National School told listeners to RTE's Liveline, detailing how a pack of hounds chased a deer around the school grounds a few times. "It was a terrifying experience for me as an adult and I can just imagine that for children it would be very terrifying," she said. Another woman said that if anything had gone wrong, an ambulance wouldn't have been able to get down the road which was clogged with hunt vehicles and horses. "It was the luck of God that no child was injured," she remarked.
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 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 (Animal Voice, September 2005)
"[A County Limerick woman] 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. " (from a report in the Limerick Leader, 12 January 2007, which highlighted that a hunt hound was seen entering a private garden and killing a cat)
Video: Foxhunting cruelty
Foxhunting: More information
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