Following the brutal killing of Mini the cat, a huntsman from the Western Hunt has pleaded not guilty to the charge of criminal damage and being the owner/person in charge of a dog dangerously out of control in a private or public case. However, what is shocking is how and why the individual charged is not the man filmed throwing Mini’s body over a neighbour’s fence but is his father, John Sampson. It would appear that he has decided to take the charges in an attempt to protect his son. Prior to the start of the court case, it was widely expected that the accused would plead guilty due to the quality of video evidence however Sampson’s lawyer argued that the killing of Mini was not intentional (where have we heard that excuse before?

"There is no allegation he intentionally set out to kill a cat using a dog," said Mr Gill. "As to recklessness it is a subjective test, he did not perceive there was a risk.

"He denies the dogs were dangerously out of control. It is not in dispute my client was in control of a pack of dogs being exercised and some of the hounds broke off and a cat was sadly and unfortunately killed.

"The basis of the defence under the dangerous dog act is that the dogs were not dangerously out of control in terms of the legal sense of that."

To this we ask how any individual could perceive it to be safe and responsible to conduct hound exercise through a quiet residential area. The hunt had no right to be where they were on the day of Mini’s death. The case against John Sampson will continue with a new court date set for October 19. In the meantime, Keep The Ban urges members of the public to support the campaign for Mini’s Law to ensure domestic animals are protected from the hunts.

On March 6th, one of the country's oldest hunts, the Western Hunt, was responsible for killing a domestic cat on a quiet residential street in Cornwall. The Mini’s Law petition setup in response to this has now exceeded 45,000 signatures.

Mini was a rescue cat who was in a perfectly safe environment, outside her house.That safe environment suddenly became a dangerous one when the Western Hunt unnecessarily passed through the street, and the hounds became ‘out of control’and killed her. The hounds, who are trained to be blood-thirsty, were only doing what is engrained in them, killing. What followed this, however, was the shocking part whereby the hunt master was then caught on camera by a neighbour picking up the body of Mini and throwing her over a garden fence, to dispose of the evidence.

The actions of the hounds came as no surprise, as unfortunately the industry they are bred into teaches them to hunt and kill. The actions of the hunt master were still of little surprise, but shocked a lot of people, and horrified the loving family Mini left behind, who had to deal with the traumatic experience inflicted on them.  

Following the incident, the Western Hunt issued a statement saying;  

“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.”

Those who have watched the footage of the incident, including Mini’s family, will be aware that it paints a very different picture to what the Western Hunt have painted in their public statement. Their concerned apology and suggestion that this was some sort of ‘freak accident’ that was totally out of their hands and unusual, just doesn’t suffice. The footage shows a person capable of handling someone's dead pet as if it were merely rubbish, and launching it over a fence,without any shred of decency or care for the cat, or its owners. As Carly,Mini’s owner stated when speaking to Cornwall Live, ‘people say, accidents happen, but this was no accident. This was an evil act’.

The Western Hunt have no way of escaping the public shame they have brought upon themselves, but as we know, those involved in the hunting world don’t tend to care about such things, and incidents don't seem to be taken seriously enough or investigated properly.  

If the events of the 6th March had played out differently, and the hunt master had in fact stopped to admit wrongdoing and offer an apology and give Minis body to its owner, then potentially Carly and her family might have been provided with a bit more comfort during what has been a distressing time.  

The fact that instead of this, and instead of any sort of humanity, he decided to try and conceal the evidence and throw the body of someone's dead pet over a fence and run away, and then have the Hunt issue an online apology, is unacceptable and so overtly shows they just don’t care, nor do they have any sort of empathy.

Carly subsequently set up the Mini’s Law petition,a Public and Animal Safety Bill, to try and introduce new legislation that would ensure nothing like this ever happens again. She doesn’t want anyone to have to go through what her and her children have had to, as it’s been a tormenting time for the family. The petition recently passed 20,000 signatures,and was responded to by the Government. As expected, this response was insufficient, and simply stated “The police can take action under the Dogs Act 1871 where dogs are out of control and dangerous to other animals. This Government will not amend the Hunting Act.”  

This response only motivates the petition to go further, which still has plenty of time to reach 100,000, which would then see it be considered for debate in parliament. Let’s keep spreading awareness and increasing the signatures on the petition, to try and get Mini’s voice heard. Mini didn’t deserve to have her life taken from her so abruptly and brutally, and her family deserve some justice.

Rob Pownall

Founder of Keep The Ban

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