January 23, 2011
Posted by cafh
Last week, we learned of an incident that’s currently being investigated by the police, during which a fox was killed by a pack of hounds from a Hunt. The huntsmen claim the creature was accidentally killed as their hounds followed a trail made by an artificial scent, so I suppose it’s entirely possible that the fox in question was partially sighted and deaf, sitting around idly in the middle of an artificial trail, and was simply unaware of the sight, sound or smell of a pack of rampaging foxhounds until it was too late.
Video evidence also records a huntsman “blowing the kill” – a long note on a horn – which a spokesman for the hunt explained away by saying that the horn blower had got “a little excited” and that it was all a terrible misunderstanding. Quite so – I must admit that my first reaction on learning that a fellow human being might be close to death is not to make every effort to avert that death or to mourn it, but to hurry to the nearest piano and belt out Chopin’s Funeral March, so I find it perfectly understandable if a huntsman behaved in the same way as far as a fox being ripped apart by hounds is concerned.
However, the mere existence of “blowing the kill” on a horn to celebrate a sentient creature being torn apart by dogs for the pleasure of a few human onlookers simply adds an extra obscenity to the proceedings. On every other occasion when music accompanies a death, it is a sombre occasion, from the aforementioned Funeral March to a death knell rung on a bell, or indeed the Last Trump, or trumpet call, from the Book of Revelations. Only devotees of blood sports have managed to debase music in such a way, by insisting that a ‘fanfare’ is played to the accompaniment of snarling hounds, and the shrieks and pathetic whimpers of fox as it’s ripped apart alive. This might all be music to someone else’s ears, but certainly not to mine.
Those of us who oppose our demonised native wildlife being torn apart by packs of dogs or by terriers for the amusement or pleasure of a few human onlookers are simply concerned with the welfare issue, and we do not think it too much to ask that a creature experiences a decent life and a decent death. Aside from the other myths or downright excuses peddled by proponents of blood sports, they continue to insist that a fox being savaged by hounds is killed quickly, conveniently forgetting the enormous stress brought on by the prolonged chase by hounds bred for stamina, having terriers set up on it underground, being dug out, being manhandled and then being thrown to the waiting hounds. This is also to deny the extensive veterinary studies of the horrific deaths meted out to foxes, as if any were needed, but I decided to explore some other avenues recently, to see if any human victims of animal attacks could shed some light on the matter.
Strangely enough, in all the online accounts of people being attacked, maimed and sometimes killed by dogs, I could not find a single example of any spokesman or survivor speaking about these savagings in a positive light. I could find no record of any witness to these attacks expressing satisfaction that the victim had died quickly and painlessly, while the woman who was attacked by polar bears in a Berlin zoo in April 2009 did not seem to enjoy the experience in the least. It may be completely different for foxes, deer, mink, badgers or hares, or any other creature unfortunate enough to find itself on the receiving end of a pack of British hounds, but I somehow doubt it.
This examination of death, blood, terror, wanton cruelty and pain is something that more properly belongs to the Dark Ages, not to 21st century Britain. The huntsmen and their dwindling band of followers might well exult in “blowing the kill”, but the growing amount of people and MPs opposed to this savagery are surely striking the right note by sounding the Death Knell for bloodsports in Britain.