A pet cat has been killed by a pack of hunting hounds - the rules on fox hunting explained

Monday, 8th March 2021, 4:07 pm
Updated Monday, 8th March 2021, 4:08 pm
A pet cat has been killed by a pack of hunting hounds - the rules on fox hunting explained (Photo: Shutterstock)

A family pet has been killed by hunting hounds in Cornwall

A 14 year old rescue cat called Minnie was attacked outside her owner’s home on a housing estate in Cornwall on Saturday (6 Mar).

The cat’s owner, Carly Jose, said her children “cried themselves to sleep” after the incident.

A video of the incident reportedly shows the hounds savaging the cat, before a member of the hunt picks up the cat’s body and throws it over a fence.

Ms Jose said she is “absolutely devastated” and that she hasn’t watched the video, as it is too disturbing.

‘Incidents of this nature are incredibly rare’

The hounds belonged to the Western Hunt, which has apologised “unreservedly for the distress caused.

Speaking to ITV News, Ms Jose said that a member of the hunt had returned to her home later to offer her money as compensation for the incident, which she refused.

A spokesperson from the Western Hunt said: “The Hunt is aware of events that took place on Saturday, 6th March, while the hounds were being exercised in an area where they are taken routinely, without incident, by officials of the hunt.

"The hunt has been in contact with the cat owner to apologise unreservedly for the distress this has caused and is also helping the police with their enquiries.

"Incidents of this nature involving hounds are incredibly rare due to the professionalism with which the hounds are managed, however the hunt has taken this matter very seriously and is reviewing their procedures to prevent any reoccurrence.”

Is fox hunting illegal?

Although fox hunting was in theory made illegal by the passage of the 2004 Hunting Act, many hunting groups still operate today on the basis of ‘trail hunting’ which is a legal alternative where no prey is intentionally hunted.

While many hunts maintain that they act fully within the law in continuing to operate as “trail hunts”, there have been numerous reports of foxes and other animals being hunted and killed by groups all over the country.

Footage emerged last year of a group of hounds attacking a deer in North Yorkshire, and a hunting group confirmed they had killed a fox in West Yorkshire in 2019 after footage of the incident emerged.

Has this happened before?

As well as reports of groups continuing to hunt in contravention of the Hunting Act, there have been a number of reports of pets or other animals being attacked by hounds which are out on a hunt, or being exercised.

In December last year, a hunt spokesperson responded to an incident in which a pet cat in Derbyshire was killed by hunting hounds, saying, “incidents of this nature involving hounds are incredibly rare due to the professionalism with which the hounds are handled”.

There have been at least two reports of attacks by hunting hounds on dogs and their owners in Cornwall since 2017.