Animal rights supporters have criticised a Runcorn vet for being the director of a leading Cheshire Hunt.
Elizabeth Gorse denied there was any conflict between the roles after hunting opponents pointed out that Companies House documents showed she holds directorships for Cheshire Forest Hunt and also Rose Cottage Veterinary Centre on Chester Road, Sutton Weaver.
Among those to criticise her position was Stop The Cull badger hunt group, which posted a picture of a dead fox on its Facebook page on March 6 with links to Rose Cottage’s Facebook and Yell pages, suggesting opponents could post reviews.
The post has been shared hundreds of times.
Twitter users also expressed anger over Mrs Gorses’s two roles.
Among those was ‘Pete & Lou’, @Burforders, who said: “Something locals have a right to know in my opinion. I would want to know if this was my vet.”
Hounds Off, @houndsoff, simply said ‘Strewth’ with a retweet of the image of the dead fox and reference to Mrs Gorse being director of the hunt and the vets.
The dead animal is alleged to have been killed during a controversial hunt in Macclesfield in February, which police are investigating over alleged trespass.
Residents complained to police after witnesses reported a pack of hounds jumping over a fence and mauling a fox.
Witnesses claimed a fox was savaged by hounds in an elderly couple’s garden.
The Manchester Evening News reported that resident Julie Clark, 47, said she saw a woman then remove the dead animal from the garden.
Edwina Church, 47, said ‘a stream of dogs’ ran through her garden and at one point 15 were ‘jumping around’ in her garden.
She added that her 82-year-old mother, who has heart failure, saw the chase unfold and was left ‘traumatised’.
Cheshire police were investigating.
The MEN said the huntsmaster had phoned a farmer to apologise after hounds ran through his field containing pregnant heifers.
Hunting foxes for the purpose of killing with dogs is illegal, but under the Hunting Act 2004 wild animals can be flushed out and shot if specific legal conditions are satisfied.
After Stop The Cull’s post on Facebook, a slew of reviews for and against Rose Cottage appeared on yell.com.
These have now been removed.
Two positive reviews were posted on Rose Cottage’s Facebook page on Tuesday, March 7.
Among those to express support for the veterinary practice as a whole was Andrew Lopez, who said he was opposed to fox hunting but wanted to support the surgery’s front-line staff.
Jonathon Hodge said it was a ‘vets that put animal needs first’.
Rose Cottage’s website staff profiles page said Liz Gorse has worked at the centre since it opened in 1984.
It said she ‘has a particular interest in horses’, with a Royal College Of Veterinary Surgeon’s Certificate in equine practice.
The profile added that she has had an interest in ‘equine country pursuits’ since childhood.
Mrs Gorse said she saw no conflict between the roles as hunt director and vet.
She said: “There is no ethical conflict of interest between my practising as a veterinary surgeon and supporting legal hunting.
“The Cheshire Forest, of which I am a director and follower, always intends to hunt within the confines of the Hunting Act 2004 by trail-hunting and performing hound exercise.
“There appears to have been an organised campaign by anti-hunting supporters to disrupt businesses where individuals who openly support legal hunting work.”
Mrs Gorse said police were investigating an allegation that Cheshire Forest hounds chased a fox in connection with the Macclesfield matter.
She said she could not comment further due to the ongoing investigation.
A Cheshire police spokeswoman said the probe is still ongoing.