A shocking attack has blown the debate about fox hunting wide open

Fox Hunting Hounds
Steve Topple

A shocking incident on a National Trust beach has added weight to the argument against repealing the Hunting Act. An unprovoked attack by a pack of around 30 hounds left an elderly couple injured. And an eyewitness said the hounds were “baying”. Seemingly for blood.

“Baying” for a pet dog

On Saturday 14 January at around 3.30pm, a hunt and its dogs rode onto Gunwalloe Beach in Cornwall. The four riders were reportedly taking their horses for a “dip” in the sea. But the pack of unattended hounds began chasing an elderly couple’s pet dog across the beach.

The Canary spoke to eyewitness Julian Parrott, who was with a friend on the beach. He said:

We saw the hunt arrive on the beach, where there were probably about half a dozen members of the public, and the horse riders went into the sea with their animals. While the dogs milled around on the beach. We then heard a really loud baying… it wasn’t like normal barking. It sounded a lot worse than that. We could then see the pack were chasing something in a circle, then going back around again. We could see it was another dog. When we got a bit closer, we could see the dog was either a small greyhound or a whippet.

Out of control?

Parrott saw one of the riders immediately jump off his horse. He then tried to stop the hounds chasing the terrified pet dog. But Parrot said the hounds were just running past, ignoring him.

The chase continued. Parrott recalled:

After [the pack’s] second or third loop, the pet dog had managed to get enough distance between itself and the pack, that the owner was able to grab it and pick it up. But then the front hounds turned on the owner, trying to get at the dog while he was holding it. One of the riders started beating the hounds down with his horse crop. And eventually they backed off.

According to Cornwall Live, another witness said the hounds’ “bloodlust was out of control”.

Multiple injuries

Parrot said the hounds bit the pet dog twice on the back. And the elderly owner several times on the hand. Parrott told The Canary:

The friend I was with is an ex-‘horser’ [sic] and said we ought to really do something about this. But the couple said they didn’t want any fuss. We thought, though, that it wasn’t really their place not to report it, as something worse could happen next time around.

“Fear of repercussions”

He says that the elderly couple may not have wanted to report the incident, due to knowing people from the hunt. And Parrott also said:

It had to be a local hunt. We think it probably is the Cury Hunt. And this is one of the reasons why the person I was with has asked not to be named, because of fear there would be some repercussions. The people on the hunt may not take it very kindly.

Several hunt saboteur groups have also reported that it was probably the Cury Hunt. The Secretary of the Cury Hunt and its kennels were unavailable for comment. Devon and Cornwall police told The Canary it had:

received reports alleging a disturbance, linked to a possible hunt, on Gunwalloe Beach, that took place on Saturday 14 January 2017. At this time, no victim has come forward to the police to confirm this initial allegation. We urge any witnesses to contact us, quoting the log number 242 of the 14 January.

The National Trust – out of control?

Gunwalloe Beach is a National Trust site. Also, the trust only allows trail hunting with artificial scent, and exercising of animals, on its sites. The Canary tried to contact the Trust directly. Again, no one was available for comment. But the Trust did tweet that:

A Hunt is licensed to enter our land for the purposes of trail hunting and exercising hounds, but over a restricted area, and on restricted days. We take this incident very seriously and are actively investigating.

Parrott takes a very straightforward view on whether hunts should be allowed on National Trust beaches:

I think the Trust should ban hunts from public beaches. On private fields…, you’re not going to get the same congregation of people as on a beach. Especially when there are other dogs and children. If it’s not safe, the National Trust should say hunts are not allowed on the beach.

While opposition to fox hunting is at an all-time high, the Tories pledged in their 2015 manifesto to repeal the Hunting Act. And Theresa May is reportedly still going ahead with a vote in parliament on the subject. But shocking incidents like this will only serve to add more fuel to the argument that fox hunting should remain severely restricted. Or made completely illegal with even harsher penalties.

Get Involved!

– Support Keep The Hunting Ban on Facebook.

– Contact your MP, telling them not to support a repeal of the Hunting Act.

Support the Hunt Saboteurs Association.

Featured image via Pixabay

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