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Another cat brutally killed by hunt hounds
04 March 2011

Another cat has been brutally killed by a pack of hunting hounds. The incident, which took place at the end of January, is the latest in a growing list involving pets being attacked during hunts.

The distraught and outraged owner told ICABS that when she heard yelping and animal cries in her garden, she looked out the window and was shocked to see hounds chasing something into a hedge.

"I then saw a hunter come in my front gate and run up the lawn to where his dogs were going wild at the trees," she recalls. "I remember feeling rooted to the ground unable to believe what I was seeing, I knew they were savaging some poor animal, it was only when the hunter bent down and picked up my dead family pet cat by the hind legs that I realised in further horror what had happened - my beloved cat had been cruelly savaged to death, purely because the poor thing was too old to run away quick enough."

She says that the hunter then ran off with the dead cat and that pleas for the body to be returned have been ignored.

Horseback hunters in front of her property "fobbed my tears off saying nothing had happened".

After the incident was reported to the Gardai and the hunt was cautioned, a member of the hunt came to apologise and, to add insult to injury, left a box of chocolates for the absent cat owner.

"If I had been there," she says, "he would have had the chocolates thrown back in his face."

This is just latest upsetting incident in which pets have been attacked and killed by trespassing hunts (please scroll down for some of the previously reported attacks). These incidents subject pets to a horrendous death and are traumatic to pet owners. They are also a reminder of the savage deaths suffered by thousands of wild creatures around the country every year.

ICABS advises anyone who experiences hunt trespass to immediately contact the Gardai and urge them to prosecute. We also recommend that legal advice is sought with a view to pursuing a claim for compensation. For more information, please visit our Landowners page.

ICABS advice to farmers and other landowners

Unless hunters hold sporting rights to hunt on your property (this is not usually the case but if so, it will be specified on the title deeds to the property), neither they nor their dogs have a right to trespass on your property.

Under the Control of Dogs Act ( dogs must be kept "under effectual control" so if hunt hounds come on to property where they do not have permission to be, this would be an offence and the Gardai should be notified. (If possible, take photos or video footage to prove it took place). If trespass occurs by members of the hunt, the Gardai should be notified as well.

Sometimes hunts will say something like "we go where the dogs go" or "we didn't know we weren't allowed to enter your property" but this is not acceptable. If they didn't receive permission to enter the property, they should not be there.

Farmers affected by hunt trespass may wish to contact the Farmers Against Foxhunting and Trespass organisation which offers advice to landowners. Their chairman, Philip Lynch, can be reached at 056-7725309.

Please also see the Irish Council Against Blood Sports information leaflet, Troubled by the Hunt.


Elderly couple left traumatised after hounds maul cat to death
26 February 2009

An eldery couple in Meath has been left traumatised following a vicious attack on their 18-year-old cat. The unfortunate animal was mauled by a pack of hunting hounds as it lay sleeping in the sun. The hounds then "ran through the house, frightening family members and causing chaos".

According to a report in the The Meath Chronicle, the owners of the cat are heartbroken after 'Hoppy’, their three-legged pet, was "torn to shreds".

“It is heart-breaking," owner Rosemary Smith was quoted as saying. "Hoppy was a real pet and loved to lie in the sun. She had only three legs since she was injured when she was very young.”

The Chronicle describes how 14 hounds surrounded the house before descending on the cat. Four of the dogs then ran into the house through the front hall and kitchen.

“I met one of the dogs in the hall and I was afraid it would snap at me," Mrs Smith said. "My husband is 90 years-old and it was lucky they didn’t knock him over.”

She added: "My son’s three little grandchildren are usually here on a Sunday and could have been running around outside. What would have happened to them?”

Mrs Smith told the paper that she was annoyed that a group of men with guns who were hunting with the dogs hadn’t bothered to call up their hounds. She said she wanted to make people aware of what happened and warned that the situation could have been much worse if there had been children in the vicinity.

The remains of Hoppy, the unfortunate cat that was brutally attacked and killed by hunting hounds in Meath.

ICABS Response: Meath Chronicle

Stop the 'absolute cruelty' of hunts
Meath Chronicle - 4th March, 2009

Dear Sir - The attack on a cat by a pack of hunting hounds in Moynalty (Meath Chronicle, 25th February) is yet another reminder that hunters pose a deadly threat not only to wildlife but also to pets. The brutal killing of poor, defenceless Hoppy is just the latest in a growing list of fatalities caused during hunts.

This time last month, hounds ran up a private driveway in Wexford, pinned a cat against a garage door and massacred it. The distressed homeowner described it as "absolute cruelty" and has since banned the hunt from her land. Previously in Limerick, locals looked on in horror as a harrier hound savaged a neighbourhood cat to death. In Northern Ireland, an eight-year-old girl was left distraught after hounds piled into a back garden during a hunt and ripped her beloved cat apart. A local paper reported that a group of youngsters "saw the dogs in a complete frenzy and heard the squeals of the cat as she was attacked".

Whether it is to help protect wildlife, livestock, pets or children, we call on Meath Chronicle readers to join our appeal to the office of Agriculture Minister, Brendan Smith (01-6072000), Email: to ensure that the forthcoming Animal Health and Welfare Bill makes it an offence to use packs of hounds to terrorise, chase and kill.


Philip Kiernan,
Irish Council Against Blood Sports,
Mullingar, Co Westmeath.

Another cat brutally attacked and killed during hunt
22 January 2009

A woman watched in horror as a pack of hunt hounds savaged a pet cat in her garden, the Wexford People has reported. This is the latest in a growing list of shocking pet fatalities during hunts.

In its front page coverage, the People newspaper reported:

"The family cat was torn to pieces by the hounds which crossed the main Wexford/Kilmore Road following the scent of a fox. 'They came up the driveway and pinned the cat against the garage door and massacred it', said Breda who went to investigate when she heard the dogs howling. 'They tore it apart. What I'm trying to get across is the absolute cruelty of it. It was a poor dumb animal not doing any harm to anyone', she said. Afterwards, the end wall of her house was splattered with the cat's blood. Breda said she couldn't bear to look at the dead animal."

The report added that the Kilmore woman complained in person to the Master of the Killinick Harriers and that he apologised for what happened. Her husband, she said, "won't allow the hunt to cross their land in future".

ICABS has renewed its call on all landowners to keep hunts out. If you are a landowner, please download and display a "No Hunting" Sign

ICABS responds to latest cat attack

Horrible cruelty of bloodsports
Irish Independent - January 22 2009

The recent attack on a cat by a pack of hunting hounds in Wexford is another shocking reminder that hunts pose a deadly threat not only to wildlife but also to pets.

This latest victim suffered a horrendous death after the dogs ran up a driveway and "pinned the cat against the garage door and massacred it".

The distressed homeowner described what happened as "absolute cruelty" and has since banned the hunt from her land.

This is just the latest in a growing list of pet fatalities caused by hunting dogs.

Not so long ago in Limerick, locals looked on in revulsion as a harrier hound savaged a neighbourhood cat to death.

Previously, an eight-year-old girl was left distraught after hounds piled into a back garden during a hunt and ripped her beloved cat apart. 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. He suffered injuries to his paws, back and hind quarters.

Farm animals such as sheep and cattle have been victims, too, hence the increasing number of farmers who refuse hunts access to land.

Our advice to anyone who experiences such an incursion is to immediately notify gardai and quote the Control of Dogs Act.

This piece of legislation makes it clear that dogs must be kept under "effectual control" and that the person in charge of a dog shall not permit the dog to be on the premises of another person without their consent.

Philip Kiernan
Irish Council Against Blood Sports
Mullingar, Co Westmeath

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.

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."

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.

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.

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