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(Updated 08/02/01)

Rehoming hounds 'impossible'

A ROW has broken out between the RSPCA and a former employee of the charity over whether or not all 20,000 foxhounds in the UK can be rehomed in the event of the ban on hunting becoming law.

Angela Egan, a former RSPCA employee who defected to the pro-hunting Countryside Alliance, denounced the RSPCA’s claims, stating that it would be impossible to rehome up to 20,000 working hounds.

“I knew these dogs would not be suitable for rehoming and we would not be able to do it, but that was the ‘party line’,” said Ms Egan. “My problem with the RSPCA is that they would tell us to say to the public that we would rehome the dogs.

“Then they said that the main responsibility for the dogs would be with their Masters, which would mean they would be destroyed. As a committed animal lover with a passion for dogs I could not live with that.”

Miss Egan worked for the charity for 10 years as a branch development officer in London before becoming disenchanted with the Society’s stance on hunting. Ms Egan remembered asking other officers in the society whether they knew anyone who had successfully rehomed a foxhound.

“They knew only two and they were both hunt supporters who took the animals on,” she said. “The dogs effectively lived in conservatories and had to be muzzled every time they went out. This is not successful rehoming.”

But Charlotte Morrisey of the RSPCA dismissed Miss Egan’s comments, saying “Now she’s working for the Countryside Alliance she is saying things which suit her own ends and those of her new employer.”

However, Ms Morrisey accepted that it would be difficult to find a home for every hound, but said that the fate of the hounds now lay with the Hunts, calling on the Hunts to stop breeding hounds now in preparation for a ban. She also believed that hounds could be retrained for use in draghunts.

Miss Egan maintained her view that hounds could not be rehomed, saying that they were pack animals and needed exercise.

“I don’t mean twice round the block every day. These really are not dogs you can put on their own in a terraced house.”

Miss Egan also criticised the RSPCA for spending over £200,000 on anti-hunting advertisements, saying this was the equivalent of 30,000 kennelling days for dogs.