27th September 2015
We have some interesting threads to posts on our Facebook page. The story which emerged a week ago about the Atherstone Hunt supporter who simulated sex with a dead goose has understandably caused quite a storm. We’ve made our position clear: there’s no point in heaping negative energy on the lad because we think he needs to learn the basics of compassion, decency and respect. That’s unlikely to happen if he feels attacked and picked upon in the aftermath. Indeed, it might make him worse. We’d prefer his sort to be love-bombed and educated as to the error of their ways. The world has to be a better place, surely, if children are raised to be kind?
On Twitter a while back a pro hunt troll screen-grabbed a quote from another thread and tweeted it back to us. The comment was about chopping hunters testicles off as punishment for cruelty to animals, or something like that. Our troll used this example to insinuate that if you’re opposed to bloodsports you’re a violent extremist too. Oddly enough, we’ve seen plenty of heated social media comments from both sides of the hunting debate. We take them mostly with a pinch of salt.
In July three men were convicted under the Hunting Act after they’d been stopped by Herefordshire police with a live fox in a bag and bloodied terriers in the back of their van. It was patently obvious that they had been setting their dogs onto the fox in order to enjoy the fight. They got done quite rightly. As you can imagine, many people were shocked and appalled.
One of those convicted was a serving soldier. A petition was started to get him discharged from the Army. We shared the outrage but didn’t support the petition. Our reasoning remains that if he had been booted out then highly likely he’d fall back on his cruel ways. Far better to keep him on the straight and narrow and combine that with some counselling to open his heart and mind to compassionate behaviour. Better for him and, crucially, for future animals which are not abused because he’s learnt to be a nicer person. Which ever way you look at this one it’s a tough call. We get that too.
Ours is not a rose-tinted view of how things could be. We want humans to find ways of living and passing time which do not inflict pain and suffering on animals. This might sound a bit idealistic but it’s honestly not – it’s simply about education and appealing to the better nature which hopefully resides in all of us (some more than others, yes).
In the real world there are not the resources to enable correction therapy for miscreants like the hunt supporter who thrilled himself with a dead bird or the off-duty soldier who enjoys setting dogs onto foxes for sport. We can only speculate as to the peer pressure and degenerate adult examples being set around them. Often the prognosis for abuse addicts is not good. So it’s up to us, the compassionate majority, to resist instinctive loaded reactions and think differently. A paltry fine and some cutting remarks on social media won’t make the problems of immature behaviour and illegal hunting go away.
© Joe Hashman
20th September 2015
A lovely photo appeared on our Facebook page on Friday. Jenny Rogers posted it, showing two horses looking over a gate with a Hounds Off NO HUNTING notice attached. The local hunt held an early morning meet in the area last week and it helped persuade them to avoid the property on this occasion. We hope they continue to keep their hounds off land where they are not wanted.
There was lots of positive feedback from our online community. Jenny wrote the following in response;
“Thank you for your comments. We have protected our farm for the past 30 years but last March the hunt sent their dogs onto our land and chased our foxes. It was a horrible day as I desperately tried to stop the hounds on my own. This year I decided it was going to be different! Seeing as the hunt believe they are above the law and happily chase and kill foxes throughout our countryside daily, we spoke to neighbours who agreed to be added to our boundaries for ‘no hunting’. This took our fox oasis to 130 acres. Since then 3 more neighbours have contacted me with another 60 acres! I encourage everyone to do this no matter how small your garden. We were sat last year in a friends 1/4 acre garden with our young children playing when a whole pack of hounds ran into the garden and started baying. The riders/followers were no where near and had no control. If the hunt had received a letter stating that the hounds were not allowed there and there were posters up then they would have to have made more effort to control them and we hope would keep their distance. Just think if we all did this and encourage others too. Soon they will run out of ‘safe’ land to ride through where their hounds can keep contained, or face prosecutions. Together we can stop them.”
The conversation continued. Cheryl Woodall enthused, “That’s brilliant and I’m so so pleased that a fellow country dweller and horse owner has stood up to the hunt! I come from a huge hunting area and feel like a Alien because of my views. It takes courage to stand up for your beliefs in a pro hunt area as they can be intimidating and the local police turn a blind eye and let the hunt flaunt the law daily! It’s so corrupt.”
Jenny replied, “Hi Cheryl, we run a horse retirement charity on our farm so have about 20 elderly horses. We combine this with conservation and are in the process of turning our farm into a nature reserve. The hunt have been trying to get on our land for years and we have always felt helpless. Now I think the times are changing and as soon as I stood up to them I was amazed at the support from neighbours and friends.”
We salute these folks, and people everywhere, who actively oppose illegal bloodsports, make their homes and gardens sanctuaries for wildlife, engage with us and others via social media, write letters to the papers, or do one of the many things we can all do to voice our disapproval of hunting with dogs for sport.
Despite being a minority pastime, hunters continue to have an out-of-proportion influence over rural communities. One of the great things which Jenny has demonstrated through her actions is that when you do come out as anti hunting others take heart and feel able to speak up too. It’s nice to know that you’re in good company.
Illegal hunting is widespread. Until politicians act to reinforce existing legislation, and while we wait for the police to take enforcing it seriously, warning hunts to keep their hounds off our farms, smallholdings, paddocks and gardens is something which is really making a positive difference.
The Hounds Off website, www.houndsoff.co.uk, contains all the information you need to empower yourself and protect wildlife where you live. You can visit our Action & Advice pages, download your own NO HUNTING notice, become part of our online community or maybe simply purchase some greeting cards and other foxy merchandise from the online Hounds Off shop. We are easily contactable too.
We’d love you to stand with Jenny, Cheryl, ourselves and thousands of others who are not alone in saying “Hounds Off Our Wildlife!” and doing something about it.
© Joe Hashman