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Updated 14/01/2001

Hunt Beagles Stolen by animal activists

By a Special Correspondent

ANIMAL RIGHTS activists who stole twenty three and a half couple of Beagles were slammed as “grossly irresponsible and cruel” by experts.

All but four of the entire 51-strong Wye College Beagles Hunt pack were stolen by members of the Animal Liberation Front during a raid on the hunt’s kennels in Wye, Kent during the early hours of Friday morning. The ALF later admitted the theft and tried to claim that the Beagles would be placed in “safe, loving homes.”

In reality, however, the hounds are far from likely to settle down in domestic homes, being used to a diet of raw meat, lots of exercise and being homed in a pack in kennels.

Nick Mays, OUR DOGS’ Chief Reporter was quoted by the Sunday Telegraph on the theft, “ I would say that it is extremely cruel to deprive them of the physical and mental stimulation they get from exercising with the rest,” said Mays.

“It could even be dangerous for people. If you take a dog like that which hasn’t been housetrained and put it in a totally alien environment, say a semi in Sydenham, it will first of all rip all the furniture apart. It might even get so frustrated it bites a chunk out of someone.

“No matter how well-meaning they are, it would be well-nigh impossible for the dog to adapt to their urban environment.”

The Countryside Alliance joined in the condemnation of the dog’s theft, having repeatedly warned that if hunting were banned, the vast majority of the 20,000 hunting hounds in Britain would have to be destroyed because it will be impossible to find new homes for them.

“It is cruel, stupid and alarming,” said Jill Grieve of the Countryside Alliance. “They are not going to be kept on a satin pillow and fed meaty chunks. They won’t adapt. They will be very distressed.”
Dan Murphy, the joint master of the Wye Beagles Hunt, warned that the hounds would cause “havoc” in a domestic environment.

“People who think that they are getting a gentle Labrador or Collie that will fall asleep in front of the fire are in for a big shock. They are naive if they think that these hunting animals will become cuddly pets.”

Robin Page, presenter of the BBC TV series One Man and His Dog, was also quoted in the Sunday Telegraph:
“The Wye Beagles are working dogs, used to living, sleeping and working as a pack. They have been living together since puppyhood and they have bonds and relationships as members of that pack which are now being forcibly broken,” said Page. “This is the exact opposite of ‘kindness to animals’. A group of people plugged into Walt Disney and Rolf Harris are showing how little they understand animals.”

The Wye Beagles Hunt were determined not to be beaten by the theft of most of their pack and their hunt went ahead as planned last Saturday. A neighbouring hunt lent around 20 hounds to join Leyland, Wayward, Widgeon and Wilton, the four remaining Beagles.

The Beagles surged across the green fields around Dymchurch, searching for the scent of a hare, cheered on by 100 hunt followers and supporters. There were no saboteurs visible, although the police were taking no chances, with several officers sitting in Land Rovers observing the scene, ready to act at the first sign of trouble.

All of the stolen dogs have a tattoo in each ear, one side has the initials “WCB” and the other ear bears the hound’s stud book number.

Anyone with any information pertaining to the theft of the hounds should contact Frank Middleton, joint master of the Wye College Beagles on: 01622 890275.

- Full Report in January 12th 2001 Issue of Our Dogs
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