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22nd October 2016

It’s Good To Talk

Debating fox hunting and the Hunting Act at The Game Fair 2016. Photo credit: Oli Melzack

From the moment we had a social media presence we’ve had trolls. Online abuse is inevitable when you’re standing up to be counted. We don’t support it or partake. Hounds Off fundamentally disapproves of antisocial behaviour from anyone on any side.

We accept our own advice regarding trolls which is to, with a very rare exception, ignore them. That’s why their type always quieten down and, mostly, go away.


The news is often appalling. Human beings can inflict the most heinous crimes against their kind and fellow creatures. God knows, often the horror is very hard to understand or absorb. However incensed or outraged, we encourage folks in our Hounds Off community to spread foxy love instead.

To achieve the dream, foxy love must reach beyond its comfort zone and into what might be described as enemy territory. Foxy love seeks also to find common ground with people who, by whatever inclination, are practitioners of or apologists for foxy hate – folks who are not our natural bedfellows. That’s why it was great to represent Hounds Off in a debate about fox hunting and the Hunting Act at The Game Fair in July. There’s no doubt that we challenged negative stereotypes and made a few die-hard hunt supporters think, however briefly, about the cruelty which is central to the pleasure they feel from participating in ‘country sports’.

We advertised our attendance in advance so that all our trolls were informed and aware of their chance to discuss the rights and wrongs of killing for sport face to face and in the comfort of their home turf. For reasons known only to themselves, our trolls didn’t grasp their opportunity, or if they did decided to keep quiet.


A year ago Hounds Off was represented at the Winchester Hunting Symposium. There were all sorts of smear campaigns from hunt supporters beforehand. One of our then-regular trolls even published a rubbishing blog full of lies and misinformation designed to scupper the event (it has since been removed). Additionally, as the Hounds Off representative, I was personally besmirched and accused of supporting violent protest. A pro hunt MP threatened to pull out of participating if I was given a voice. I had to answer to the organiser and he then justified my attendance to Winchester University elders who decided the outcome of this no-platform attempt. We took it as complimentary when the Countryside Alliance joined in.

It’s good to have a voice and be listened to. Hounds Off attended the Winchester Hunting Symposium and, on behalf of hunted animals, our voice was heard.


Recently we had a little ding-dong in the Dorset press about the seldom-mentioned issue of Hunts killing healthy but unwanted surplus hounds. For whatever reason, the Blackmore Vale Magazine Editor closed correspondence having given a hound-killing apologist the last, and inaccurate, word.

We used our social media platforms to keep this issue alive and it was latched on to by a troll who, evidently spoiling for an online argument, was particularly prolific about a month ago.

Our troll had been sprinkling mischief here and there. We monitored his presence discreetly but, as stated earlier, are not in the habit of censoring comments. After all, it’s good to talk.

Eventually our troll settled down into a dialogue with a Hounds Off supporter and the nitty-gritty realities of trailhunting aka foxhunting.


Eventually, playing his believed trump card, our troll posted a link to the Veterinary Association for Wildlife Management (VAWM). The VAWM works towards repeal of the Hunting Act by employing lengthy, convoluted and twisted interpretations of pseudo-science to, incredibly, justify bloodsports. When you hear the likes of Conservative Party Environment Secretary Angela Leadsom say that hunting with hounds is good for animal welfare, this is where she gets her stuff.

Although superficially persuasive, we encourage all who are tempted to look a little deeper and read between the lines. VAWM arguments in support of bloodsports are fatally flawed.


It’s good to have a voice, to talk, to be listened to. Via our website and social media platforms, Hounds Off continues spreading news, views and foxy love, giving all-comers a safe place to express themselves and censoring rarely.

In solidarity with people who wish to protect their property, livestock and pets from hunt trespass, we offer ongoing support, help, advice and back-up.

In defence of the Hunting Act 2004, Hounds Off will carry on deconstructing the propaganda and exposing the lies of bloodsports apologists who have yet to accept that the cruel pastimes of hunting wild animals with dogs for sport have been ruled as socially unacceptable.

© Joe Hashman


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9 Comments | Leave a comment

  • Neal says:
    Posted October 22, 2016 at 4:32 pm

    Thanks for this article. I agree with every word. It would be inappropriate and contradictory for a movement advocating non-aggression, in all it’s forms, to act with agression in practice, even verbally.
    It is the pro hunters who, by definition, demonstrate aggression, not those who favour peaceful coexistence with other wildlife species.

    Just a request of sorts. ..

    Might it be useful for many of your readers without scientific backgrounds to be pointed in the direction of articles explaining why VAWM arguments are fundamentally flawed?

    I’m sure many who are against Fox hunting would like to understand the real science behind opposing it in order to counter the pseudo – scientific claims of the pro lobby.
    “They are fundamentally flawed” will not convince many of the pro lobby that such is the case. Any good links on this area of the argument please?

    Thanks again for an excellent article.

    Reply to this comment >
    • HoundsOff says:
      Posted October 22, 2016 at 7:05 pm

      Thanks Neal, your comments are appreciated. For the sake of hunted wildlife, teasing out reality from how the VAWM presents its case needs to be done in a considered manner. Its not a five minute job but we are on it. Those articles to which you wish to be directed are coming here soon.

      Reply to this comment >
    • HoundsOff says:
      Posted October 23, 2016 at 9:47 am

      This is about stag hunting Neal. Links which take you deeper into the subject are included; http://www.houndsoff.co.uk/archives/death-knell-sounded-for-stag-hunting/

      Reply to this comment >
  • Neal says:
    Posted October 23, 2016 at 11:36 am

    Many thanks. I will take a good look.

    Reply to this comment >
  • John Rimington Hare Preservation Trust says:
    Posted October 23, 2016 at 5:04 pm

    Thank you for this information Joe. Can I just mention that if anyone has any questions regarding hares – such as what survival problems they have to cope with in the way of diseases, in addition to the ongoing threats from mankind – then I should be pleased to engage with the enquirers. The latest threat may be the new viral disease from China killing wild rabbits, RVHD2, which the University of East Anglia have stated may also be fatal to hares.

    Reply to this comment >
  • P. Newman, DVM, MRCVS says:
    Posted December 26, 2016 at 12:28 pm

    Dear Hounds Off,

    Thank you for providing the link to the VAWM, an organisation that truthfully, despite an interest in wildlife, I had not heard about until now. As a long practicing member within the veterinary community, I am appalled at the lack of basic reasoning and science behind their opening statement: “Hunting uniquely reproduces the natural selection process whereby weak, sick and injured animals are discovered and quickly dispatched in direct relation to their debility, thereby promoting the health and vigour of the species.” I wonder what planet the good Dr Thomas was writing his opinion from as the hunting fraternities never have and never will focus on the ‘sick and injured’ individuals. I would encourage the author to remove himself from the philosophical armchair, and see for himself the dark and insidious nature of many of the countryside hunts. Practice has never followed postulation in this blood-sport. In addition, Dr Thomas’ ethics, especially given his profession, appear skewed – considering, let alone advocating, that any wildlife hunted to exhaustion by a pack of hounds and rendered apart in complete agony and pain would be promoting pain and suffering in animals. How does he rectify his position for this form of culling? How does he view hunting with hounds as humane? Does he actually believe one fox has a ‘naturaI defence’ against a pack of hounds if caught or against terrier men digging out any chance of fair escape? I have yet to find his personal or scientific opinions even remotely embracing 20th century logic. Boxing Day Rant over – thanks for giving me a forum to vent.

    Reply to this comment >
    • HoundsOff says:
      Posted December 26, 2016 at 10:03 pm

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts which are very interesting and we’re pleased you vented here. You are most welcome!

      Reply to this comment >
  • John Rimington Hare Preservation Trust says:
    Posted December 27, 2016 at 6:13 pm

    What do the intials VAWM actually stand for please? I think this is the organisation which I heard about a long time ago, ie vets who illogically promote hunting, but I cannot recall what they actually called themselves at that time so would appreciate clarification of those letters please. Thanks. At the time it did cross my mind that they are vets who may have hunt members amongst their clients and are pandering to them in order to retain their business….??

    Reply to this comment >
    • HoundsOff says:
      Posted December 27, 2016 at 10:26 pm

      Veterinary Association for Wildlife Management, John. Formerly called Vets For Hunting. Google search them for website and further reading.

      Reply to this comment >

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