Workers at the Duke of Beaufort’s Hunt, in Badminton, Gloucestershire, have been caught by a hidden camera as they shot four foxhounds – with two of them having to be shot twice.
The harrowing video, which was filmed in an undercover operation by organisations The Hunt Investigation Team and Keep the Ban, showed gunmen at Beaufort Hunt putting a gun to the dogs’ heads and firing. These were no clean kills: a dog still showed signs of life and had to be shot again three minutes later, and another is shown still weakly wagging its tail after being shot and put in a wheelbarrow.
The video was broadcast by ITV News and can be viewed below.
While the shooting of the dogs is legal in the UK, many have remarked on the callousness of it. Being shot in the head and thrown in a wheelbarrow still alive is not the kind of end most of us envision for our dogs, even if putting them to sleep is the kindest course of action. And while most dog lovers will do anything to give their dogs the best possible twilight years, many hunting dogs are disposed of this way simply because they are too old to keep hunting.
A Beaufort Hunt spokesperson said, “Occasionally hounds are successfully retired as domestic pets, but they are not house-trained and have only ever been used to living in a pack environment so the majority are unfortunately unsuitable for rehoming.
“Where other options are not available, hounds are humanely euthanised. This is done by trained professionals using lawful and approved methods.”
However, the men shooting the dogs in the footage seems hardly professionals. Mike Jessop, a fellow of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, told ITV News that he he did not believe the huntsmen were professionally trained in putting animals down.
“The lack of use of any veterinary equipment that one would expect such as stethoscopes to ascertain the dogs were dead was just lacking,” Jessop said.
“The evidence from the video doesn’t show any illegal activity. But my concern is whether there is any suffering after the shot, because nobody is being careful enough in checking the dogs are truly dead.”