Damning footage shows fox hunters murdering their dogs

Fox hunting
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Brutal footage appeared on ITV News on 8 October showing dogs being murdered by fox hunters. The hounds belonged to the Duke of Beaufort’s Hunt, and were shot dead in cold blood. The footage was filmed covertly over eight weeks by the Hunt Investigation Team (HIT), who had accessed the Beaufort Hunt’s kennels under the cover of darkness and installed a network of covert cameras.

Keep The Ban, which supported the HIT in its investigation, said:

Two of the hounds are shot twice after appearing to show signs of life. One can only imagine the pain and suffering endured by these poor dogs. The four hounds are then individually chucked onto a wheelbarrow before being carted away as if nothing more than rubbish.

“She tried her hardest to get away from her executioner”

The HIT described the murder of one of the dogs, who was just a youngster when she was murdered. The undercover investigators named her Scamp because of her playful nature. They said:

Scamp was presumably drugged to keep her still and docile while they killed her, due to her habit of running off to play. Even while drugged she tried her hardest to get away from her executioner, before her legs gave out and she fell to the ground. She tried again, made her way to the gate, tried to get back to the safety of her pack. But there was no escape.

They continued:

Scamp just wanted to run and play. Her only crime was to be an exuberant young dog. She did not deserve the fate she got. She did not deserve to die. Her tail was still wagging for over a minute after she was shot.

Read on...

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The Canary spoke to the Hunt Saboteurs Association (HSA). Saboteurs are activists on the ground, monitoring hunts and trying to stop illegal activity. They have known for a long time that hunts murder their hounds. Lee Moon told us:

It’s great that this awful footage has received national media attention. Killing of hounds by hunts is commonplace and this is more proof, if any were needed, that hunts see animals as a cheap commodity, to be discarded when of no further use.

Decades of proof that they abuse and murder hounds

It’s not the first time that Hunts have been caught out, brutalising and murdering the very hounds they claim to love. Back in 1996, the League Against Cruel Sports filmed the devastating murder of a hound by a Cheshire Foxhounds kennelman. In 2000, the pro-hunting Countryside Alliance admitted that 3,000 hounds would be “removed” that season. But as Glen Back reported in the Citro, the actual number of dogs murdered each season is likely to be much higher.

Keep The Ban explains that:

Hounds are the other victims of fox hunting. They have been trained to hunt and kill foxes which is not their natural instinct. If a hound is not deemed savage enough the hunt will remove it from the pack and kill it. It is estimated that thousands of hounds are unnecessarily killed by hunts every year and very few make it past the age of five or six despite having a life expectancy of around fourteen. The Countryside Alliance admit that up to 3,000 hounds are killed each year, but we estimate the figure to be closer to 7,000.

Meanwhile, Hunting Leaks, a website of leaked documents from various hunts, has published harrowing emails exposing Spooners Hunt staff abusing hounds. The emails accuse hunt master Andrew Smith of:

repeatedly [beating] the hound on the head with the hard end of the whip in a frenzied manner.

Smith allegedly went on to advise someone to hit hounds as hard as possible with a shovel.

Yes, fox hunting is still illegal, but they get away with it anyway

Hunting foxes with hounds is illegal in the UK. Instead, packs are supposed to ‘trail hunt’. Trail hunting involves laying an artificial trail for the hounds to chase rather than a real fox. But as The Canary has extensively reported, hunts across the country continue to get away with hunting and murdering foxes without being held accountable. Campaigners and hunt saboteurs have documented numerous acts of illegal fox hunting since the hunting ban came into force. The Duke of Beaufort Hunt – whose huntsmen were filmed murdering the hounds – is one of the worst culprits. Last year, the League Against Cruel Sports reported that the Duke of Beaufort Hunt:

topped the hall of shame as the hunt across England and Wales with the highest number of suspected illegal hunting incidents with 21 cases.

Court case

Meanwhile, in November 2020, a series of leaked webinars allegedly exposed ways that hunts in the UK cover up illegal fox hunting. In one video, senior hunt official Mark Hankinson said that trail hunting is used as a smokescreen “to portray to the people watching that you’re going about legitimate business”.

As a consequence, major landowners including the National Trust temporarily suspended trail hunting on their land.

Hankinson is currently on trial, accused of “encouraging hunts to commit illegal hunting”. The verdict is due to be delivered on 15 October.

“One more nail in the coffin”

Moon told The Canary:

Following the leaked webinars, the withdrawal of licenses by landowners, Mark Hankinson’s trial and the Quorn breaching lockdown [where Quorn hunt masters were suspended for allegedly hunting during lockdown], this is just one more nail in hunting’s coffin. Public opinion is ever more turning against them, as it becomes more and more transparent what cruel people they are.

It remains to be seen whether hunts will continue to get away with murder, both of foxes and of hounds. As more and more damning evidence becomes public, it will become difficult for the Tory elite to continue to protect their own. Hankinson’s court verdict will be indicative of whether the tide is finally turning on the rich and their murderous hobby.

Featured image via Jason Wolf / Unsplash

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  • Show Comments
    1. Firstly animals cannot be murdered the use of that word is designed to stir emotions.. If we want to abolish certain things we must expect there to be consequences. What did hunt abolition campaigners (Myself included) believe would happen to the hounds when they were no longer needed? They cannot be re-homed as they are almost feral. There was always going to be a price to be paid for abolition, we knew that. Horses such as hunters are being exported to France for meat. This was bound to happen. If you want to abolish horse Racing then where do you believe the horses will end up? Abolish meat production? Then be prepared to watch cattle get slaughtered needlessly. Abolish dairy? The same. If you’re not prepared to pay the piper, don’t call the tune. Be honest with yourself and realistic too. It’s okay to want something so bad that animals will be killed to achieve it. Even for animal rights campaigners. Releasing wild bore for example, will only ever end with them being killed on the roads, after killing the local wildlife and farm stock of course. This is and must be acceptable or they may as well be left alone.

      1. Not wrong, initially, but missing the point that once there is no need for hunting hounds, or dairy cows, or racing horses, people will simply stop breeding them and their numbers will fall naturally.

        1. I agree with both you and Mike. If hunting were abolished, hounds would be killed as they can’t be homed as pets. There would, however, be less need to kill horses, as it’s possible to ride without hunting anything – I did it for years. Competitive riders claim hunting keeps their horses fit. You can ride cross country without a kill at the end. Horses are prey animals who don’t enjoy the thrill of the chase.
          However, sultanbev, until there’s no money to be made from horseracing, it’s vanishingly unlikely it will be banned (I wish they’d ban steeplechasing, at least).

    2. I’ll repeat the comment made earlier, you cannot murder animals, only another human being. Neither can a lioness murder you when she’s hungry. You can’t murder a dog or a fox. If a dog kills a fox, is this murder too? This is a total misuse of the English language and spoils the very good case you’re making, the mistreatment of sentient animals, and makes your argument seem just a bit ridiculous to the wider public. It’s overtly emotional nonsense. . When a beef animal is slaughtered, or a chicken or a pig, for food, is that murder/ Of course not. That dogs are being killed as surplus to requirements by unqualified people shooting them is the issue. First, why are the dogs being treated as unwanted? Second why are they being shot? It’s morally repugnant. Vets are the only qualified professionals to euthanase an animal. Killing dogs in hunts, or them dying in racing, or same with horses, or whatever else cruel we do to animals is the issue here, Please don’t sidetrack good moral arguments by conflating humans with animals in this way.

    3. If I am correct then, what seems to be the issue is WHO is killing these dogs. If they were being killed by a vet, there would be no issue? I’m fairly sure that the animal would be just as dead. The biggest killers of healthy animals (Apart from Abattoirs) in the world are the RSPCA. I lived for nearly two decades among farmers and equestrian folk alike. The income from hunting has almost gone for farmers, This means that Deer, foxes and other animals considered as pests and vermin are being killed by farmers in much larger numbers. This is a consequence of hunts scaling down. I opposed hunting, as did many farmers, who tolerated broken fences, ruined crops and deaths of livestock for decades, because the hunts brought much needed cash into the community. They no longer tolerate deer ruining fences, hedgerows and eating their crops, as they no longer tolerate foxes killing livestock. This is purely monetary for them and was foreseeable by myself and many other people who opposed hunting. I consider this as collateral damage and although it isn’t nice it is also understandable. In many cases, Equestrian people are being donated horses as the stable fees are more than the animal is now worth. Totally predictable and almost necessary to achieve the end result.

    4. sultan bev.
      Yes hounds, horses cattle, sheep, goats and poultry will fade out after a while, probably to extinction.
      That being the case, let’s stop complaining and accept, when animals are killed because they are no longer economically viable or desirable. Without some form of husbandry these animals will not survive. Acceptable losses? Maybe maybe not but every action will have consequences I’m afraid. I believe it’s called the Butterfly Effect.
      Sad but unfortunately true.

    5. Nice touch with the heartwarming bit about Scamp. Really, Canary???? Has it come to this???
      The secret filming was secret because secret filming is illegal, not because the hunt was doing anything illegal. Law abiding people are entitled to privacy. Putting a dog down is a private matter, like going to the toilet or making love. It is private only to protect public sensitivities. Thus, this film, and by extension, similar “news” items, are eco-porn.
      Shooting an animal in the head, in familiar surroundings, by an experienced slaughterman, is the most humane way of terminating their lives. It happens every day to millions of food animals and those badly injured in the field, the impact rendering them senseless immediately and they remain unconscious until death follows. A second coup de grace in doubtful cases is a sign of the job done properly. Residual nerve action can however lead to shaking, paddling and tail wagging, much to the unwarranted distress of untrained observers.
      Death by injection is far less humane, but apparently kinder to the unenlightened only because chemicals are added to paralyse the animal and thus appear less stressful.
      It is hardly surprising that vets want a monopoly on euthanasia – its profitable.
      It would be nice to see a report that has at least some connection with reality….

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