Animal cruelty campaigners have expressed their shock after hounds ripped two domestic cats to pieces as a hunt trespassed on private land in south Armagh. Householder Anne Keown said she had been having nightmares ever since witnessing the horrific attack by a team of hounds outside her home.
USPCA spokesman David Wilson said the Newry Harriers hunt simply should not have been on the property. “Hunts should only be on land where they are welcomed by the landowners, ” he said. “That is a shocking thing to do, to kill those animals. They should take precautions to make sure domestic animals aren’t killed.”
Mrs McKeown told the BBC’s Talkback programme how she was having lunch with a friend when she heard howling outside. “I ran out and the whole place was just covered in hounds and horseriders,” she said. “I have four cats and the cats usually sit round the back of the house near the kitchen.” As she ran outside, two cats ran up a tree and the other two fled in opposite directions.
She arrived at the field next to her house just in time to see the hounds fall on her pets. “I panicked – it was horrific. The hounds were literally on top of the cats – the cats didn’t have a chance,” she said. “I couldn’t even describe to you what it was like – it was just disgusting. They must have eaten them – there was absolutely nothing left.”
Mrs McKeown said she learned later that the hounds are starved before they are released on the hunt. “I got a lot of abuse later on, do you know what I mean? But they were on my property – I said that to them,” she said. “I’ve been having nightmares since this, my children have been having nightmares and thank God my children weren’t there. There were so many hounds and they had no control over them at all. I had that feeling you have of helplessness, that there’s nothing you can do. They were baying for blood. I don’t even blame the animals: I blame those people in charge of them. “
Newry Harriers refused to comment after they were contacted by the BBC.
It was not the first time domestic pets have been killed by hunting hounds in Northern Ireland. An eight-year-old girl’s pet cat was mauled to death in 2005 when hounds taking part in a St Patrick’s Day hunt entered the garden of her Lurgan home.