FRUSTRATED residents told how family pets have been chased by a pack of hounds as drag hunts spark havoc in their village.
Lee Bell and his wife Bev have run Little Buskins Farm Shop, in Canewdon Road, Ashingdon, for 30 years. Their usually peaceful farm was transformed into a scene of chaos when a groups of dogs charged through the fence – seemingly chasing a fox.
Mr Bell, 43, said: “A pack of dogs came charging onto our land chasing two foxes. The dogs were completely out of control and destroyed our gate and our fence. They ran into our farm shop and then started chasing our cat. It was complete chaos.”
It is believed that the chase started out as an Essex Farmers and Union drag hunt – where a fox-scented rag is used. The hounds are understood to have sniffed out the scent of a live fox during the hunt.
The group was contacted by the Echo but did not respond to requests for a comment before going to print.
Mr Bell claims the hounds terrorised his chickens, dogs and cat – who wasn’t seen for several days after the incident.
He added: “When the foxes got away, we had to quickly rescue the dogs before the hounds turned on them.
“The chickens have been scared off their lay which means they are not laying eggs and that can last three to four months, so it is affecting our income.”
Steve Sexton and his wife Jenny have also been disturbed by drag hunts, which are regularly held in the area.
Mr Sexton, a care worker who lives in Fambridge Road, said: “It has happened a few times recently. The concern, other than for the foxes, is the welfare of our own pets. My dog became frantic a few weeks back due to the dogs running loose into the garden.
“Last Friday we had to brake sharply as a number of dogs and horses appeared from the fields into the roads without consideration to traffic.”
Fox hunting was banned in 2005.
A spokesman for the RSPCA said: “If hounds pick up the scent of a wild animal, the law requires that those in control call them off.
“If huntsmen can’t control their hounds, they should not be off the lead where other animals may be at risk.”