The hunt master of the Western Hunt who was found guilty at Truro Magistrates Court after Mini the cat was mauled to death by his pack of hounds in Cornwall earlier this year has appealed his conviction and the case will be heard on April 25th.
John Lanyon Sampson, aged 55, of St Buryan was found guilty of being the owner/person in charge of dogs dangerously out of control in a private or public place.
He was fined £480 and ordered to pay £350 compensation to Carly Jose, the cat’s owner, £775 court costs and a £48 victim surcharge.
We believe this is the first time that a hunt has ever been convicted under the Dangerous Dogs Act and as such will set precedent going forward. Keep The Ban have supported the Mini's Law campaign since March. Speaking about the decision our founder Rob Pownall commented "This is a landmark moment when it comes to dealing with those who for too long have thought they are above the law. Today's verdict was the right one and although the punishment was small it will set a precedent for future cases. This hunt was responsible for the killing of a cat in a quiet residential street and they were never going to get away with it. These dogs were dangerously out of control and the guilty verdict reflects this."
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 set up in response to this has now exceeded 40,000 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.
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