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Some unpleasant truths about hunting
23 January 2007

Hounds killing a hunt servant, cats deliberately targeted by hunters, the threat to humans and livestock from diseased foxhounds. ICABS Correspondent, Dick Power, reports on the unpleasant truths about hunting...

Newspaper coverage of hunting rarely highlights the unpleasant truths about the blood sport.

Among the reports on the hunting activities of St. Stephen's Day was the savaging of an old cat in her owner's garden. Not everyone knows, however, that cats have been deliberately targeted by hunters.

"No man or woman ought to be allowed on the hunting field until they have read and thoroughly digested 'Thoughts on Hunting'," asserts one Capt. J. Paget, introducing the 8th edition of Peter Beckford's 1951 book.

Beckford assures his readers that a cat is as good a trail as any and he refers to an old huntsman friend who trained young hounds by dragging a cat along the ground for a mile or two in front of them. Beckford outlines how he himself begins training his young hounds in August by having his huntsman release a cat before them, which they hunt up to a kill.

Cat owners, you are being warned.

Never attempt to save a pet from a pack of hounds. It is recorded that hounds killed a hunt servant in County Galway many moons ago. More recently, hounds attacked and injured a housewife in the garage of her home in Leinster.

Never fondle foxhounds either. As far back as the 1960s, foxhounds were found to be hosts of two difficult parasites - Trichinella and Echinococcus. Investigators concluded that they became infected with Trichinella as a result of killing and eating foxes caught during hunting. Infection in humans arises from handling dogs. Sheep may also pick up the parasites from pasture which has been contaminated by the dogs.

Under current legislation, all dogs must be kept under control in public places. In the time of landlordism, it was said that the poor were struck out of the protection of the law, the rich out of its penalties. The landlords are gone but their despicable attitude prevails very evidently in the hunting fraternity.

Dick Power
ICABS Agricultural Correspondent

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