Hidden cameras recorded men shooting and killing dogs that had been used for hunting.
The footage, filmed by anti-hunting groups Hunt Investigation Team and Keep the Ban, which was shared with ITV News, is believed to be the first of a publicly disclosed hound hunt.
Hounds can be killed for several reasons, including being too old to hunt, or if they get sick or hurt themselves. The practice is not illegal.
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The footage was filmed in the Duke of Beaufort’s Hunt kennel in Badminton, Gloucestershire.
The secret images, recorded over several periods between April and September, show four distinct examples of slaughtered dogs:
- In two cases, a hunter is seen putting a gun to the dog’s head and killing it.
- In another, the dog appears to be sick and is carried on the grass by hunting staff before being shot.
- Another shows the dog shot twice, three minutes apart.
The Duke of Beaufort’s Hunt told ITV News his dogs are “humanely euthanized” if they cannot be relocated. He added that the majority of dogs are “unsuitable for placement” because “they are not home trained and have never been used to living in a pack environment.”
The Countryside Alliance says 3,000 dogs are killed each year – anti-hunting activists believe the figure is over 7,000.
Rob Pownall, Founder of Keep The Ban, said: “These are pretty heartbreaking images, but it’s common for hunts across the country. It’s not an acceptable way to end a life’s life. animal These dogs suffered tremendous pain.
“The activities shown in the video are not actually illegal, but there is no moral defense for what is shown.”
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The images precede a vote later this month by members of the National Trust to decide whether hunts on his land should be banned during the next hunting season.
In November 2020, the National Trust joined a host of other large landowners, including Forestry England and United Utilities, and suspended hunting activities on their lands, following an ITV News report on the content. webinars organized by the Hunting Office.
Conservative MP Tracey Crouch, co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Animal Welfare, said the images of the slaughtered dogs were “absolutely heartbreaking” and “explosive”.
“I don’t understand why a dog… needs to be euthanized in this way and I’m sure there are much more compassionate ways to put a dog to sleep,” Ms. Crouch told ITV News.
“We have a lot of working dogs across this country in different sectors, like, say, the police or the military, and I very much doubt that these kind of dogs are asleep with a bolt to the head, so I don’t understand. why it is appropriate that hunting dogs be euthanized in this way. “
But Charlie Jacoby of the Fieldsports channel, which covers hunting, shooting and fishing, told ITV News that while the kennels and the women who look after the dogs are devoted to them, they must also be “sentimental free” and make “terrible decisions” at the end of their working life.
“If you’re dealing with … dogs on a large scale you’re going to have to face the end of their working life and that will probably mean, unfortunately – and it’s terrible work – slaughtering them,” Mr. Jacoby said.
Asked by ITV News correspondent Rupert Evelyn about whether there was a more humane way to kill dogs, Mr Jacoby said: “If you have dogs born in a kennel and raised in a kennel, take them to a veterinarian is an option, [but] the vet smells of death, chemicals. Much better to do it in a kennel, I would say. “
After watching the secret shoot, Mike Jessop, a member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, said from what he saw he did not believe hunters were professionally trained to slaughter animals.
“There was no evidence of [the huntsperson] be trained veterinarians or veterinarians. The lack of use of any veterinary equipment one would expect, like stethoscopes to check that the dogs were dead, was simply missing, ”he said.
“The evidence in the video does not show any illegal activity. My concern is whether there is suffering after the shooting, as no one is paying enough attention to verifying that the dogs are really dead.
“In one of the videos, the [hound’s] the tail was still wagging very vigorously for a while, even when the dog was loaded into the wheelbarrow.
“I would question and worry that this dog was still sensitive and therefore had the ability to feel pain. I hope the procedure was performed by a vet in a more humane manner, using a lethal injection. , rather than a bullet. “
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Responding to the footage, comedian and animal rights activist Ricky Gervais told ITV News: “It’s so deeply upsetting that foxhounds are trained against their natural instinct to hunt foxes and when they catch them, tear them apart. in pieces!”
“Then they’re killed, usually with a bullet in the head, by … someone who likes to hunt and kill innocent animals.” Both the dog and the fox become victims of this cruelty. That’s crazy, don’t you think? “
In a statement on the secret filming of the dogs killed in his kennel, the Duke of Beaufort’s Hunt told ITV News: “A number of options are being considered for each dog before a decision is made regarding their future, which ‘it is about retirement or rehousing, either in a domestic environment or in another breeding where their country may be deemed more suitable for this dog.
“Sometimes hunting dogs are successfully removed as pets, but they are not trained at home and have only been accustomed to living in a pack environment, so the majority are not suitable. unfortunately not for rehousing.
“Where other options are not available, dogs are humanely euthanized. This is done by trained professionals using legal and approved methods.”