In recently leaked 2019 Minutes of the Masters of Foxhounds Association, senior hunting official Mark Hankinson is described as expressing concern about the treatment of hounds. The document published by the group Hunting Leaks last week evidenced how;

“Mark Hankinson reported on the Kennel Visit programme. He expressed concern about the number of cases where hounds had been disciplined by the huntsman, which had been witnessed by volunteers/helpers/ hunt supporters and the huntsman’s actions had been misconstrued. Those handling hounds must be aware of what their actions appear to an outside observer.”

It is not the first time that the treatment of hounds has come into question. It is sadly unsurprising that those who enjoy chasing and killing wildlife often show little care for their hounds.

Image: Northants Hunt Saboteurs


While the hunts claim to “love” their hounds, the evidence suggests that thousands of hounds are shot and incinerated when deemed no longer “productive”. Whilst it can vary depending on the hunt and some hounds do end up being rehomed, many hunts kill their hounds at the end of each season to ensure only the fittest and strongest are left in the pack. The numbers vary when it comes to how many hounds are killed each year, with the 1999 Burns Inquiry into hunting estimating that 3,000 hounds are put down every year.

The RSPCA has since predicted this number to be as high as 10,000 while Mr Kirby of Protect Our Wild Animals calculated the figure at around 7,000. Whatever the exact figure it is evident that the hounds are nothing more than an accessory to the hunts and are often treated appallingly.These are the words of ex-hunter Clifford Pellow as reported by The Mirror;“I have been told of pups with any kind of ­disfigurement having their heads dashed against the kennel floor. They die instantly. If a fully grown hound makes a sound when it is not supposed to during a hunt meet, or if it bays when it is supposed to, they are punished. Another offence would be chasing the wrong animal instead of the fox the hunt is pursuing.

"I have seen hounds being whipped quite frequently. They wallop them with a whip crop. The hounds flinch, yelp and cower. Hounds are disposed of immediately if they are perceived to have failed in any way.”

If the hunts are in fact following a trail as opposed to a live mammal then it does raise the question as to why hunts kill their hounds at such a young age.

Age distribution of hounds at three typical fox hunts

Featured image: Cambridge Hunt Saboteurs

Rob Pownall

Founder of Keep The Ban