WESTERN HUNT : A history of cat attacks and kills
Natasha Tozer-Morley contacted a member of the Foxhunting Evidence UK team with a personal story about her encounters with the Western Hunt. This was prompted by an article she had read about Mini the cat who was killed in 2021 by the pack of hounds belonging to the Western Hunt.
Natasha had a similar incident happen to her cat (Merlin) when a hound from the Western Hunt was left to wander and found its way into her garden on the 19 January 2017.
Natasha described, in her own words, what happened to Merlin.
Merlin the cat was peacefully sleeping on a wall in the garden of her rental property situated on the Bolitho Estate, Penzance, West Cornwall.
Natasha Tozer-Morley, had just arrived home from a shopping trip. She opened her gate to drive in and noticed Merlin jump off the wall into the garden. As she carried her shopping into her kitchen, she “heard a commotion”. She rushed outside to find a hound in her garden chasing Merlin, who was covered “in dog slobber”. Merlin rushed indoors to safety and Natasha blocked the hound from following through the doorway. The hound then ran over to a barn housing her cats.
It tried gaining access to the barn by attacking the door, ripping off chunks in the process. By this time, Natasha was screaming and trying to drag the collarless hound away. At this point the hound jumped, causing her to fall in a drain, the hound now on top of her. She was terrified of being bitten. But the hound turned its attention to the sound of her dogs, barking from within the stable area. Fearful of what may ensue, she grabbed a riding crop to defend herself and her dogs.
Whilst this was going on, a number of Western Hunt supporters gathered to watch. Natasha claims they were verbally abusing her. The hound recognised someone from the crowd and ran over to them.
Natasha hid in the stable with her dogs, knowing Merlin was safe in the house. She phoned the police but they did not attend for several hours. By that time the crowd had left but police issued a crime reference number as normal practice. It is unclear if any police action was taken at this time.
The incident was reported to the landlord, who claimed neutrality on hunting and stated it was the decision of the tenant to permit or deny the hunt.
Charlie Watts, hunt Master, eventually paid a visit to Natasha. He told her the hounds were uninterested in dogs or cats and were trained to only follow his instructions. Natasha informed him she was a professional animal behaviourist and challenged his comments. Charlie Watts “flounced off” stating “it wasn’t his responsibility”.
In the meantime, Natasha took Merlin to see a vet. She had thought he was OK but he had been kept indoors since the incident. She had become concerned about his recovery and it appeared the wound had become infected. The vet confirmed the hound’s teeth had perforated Merlin’s nose and cheek, just below his eye socket.
Natasha and her husband informed the Western Hunt and the landlord, that the hunt were not permitted access to their property. However, several days later, on Boxing Day, the couple were out in their field with their dogs, when their property was invaded by half of the riders from Western Hunt, so they were forced to lock their dogs away. This incident was followed by a visit from Jenny Olds, Manager of the Bolitho Estate and, believed by Natasha, to also be Hunt Secretary to the Western Hunt. Intimidation, threats and stalking by the hunt ensued until 2018, when they were informed the estate required their rented property for a family member and they were issued with a Section 21, despite having refurbished and redecorated at considerable expense, in readiness for their new baby. The property remained empty for 3 months until a new tenant was found from Oxford.
This hunt was instrumental in the death of : Mini – 6 Mar 2021, Molly – 19 Feb 2009 and also Tikkidew – 5 Aug 1995.
In response, a spokesman for the Western Hunt stated in the Mirror 7 March 2021:
“Incidents of this nature involving hounds are incredibly rare due to the professionalism with which the hounds are managed, however the hunt has taken this matter very seriously and is reviewing their procedures to prevent any re occurrence”.
This is a very disingenuous statement from the same hunt whose hounds have a history of attacking and killing cats.
It is also interesting to note the location of this hunt is in Derek Thomas’s constituency, a conservative MP who makes statements on his website as to being pro hunting and wants to scrap the Hunting Act. He failed to respond when questioned about the hunting hounds attacks. www.derekthomas.org
The Police Force responsible, in all three incidents was the Devon and Cornwall Police.
Their Deputy Chief Inspector Paul Netterton’s team is also responsible for investigating the hunting leaks webinars.
This is also the same Deputy Chief who wrote the highly biased and disproportionate “Police Operational Advice on hunting incidents” (Police Directive).
Paul Netterton has just recently retired from the police force, so hopefully we might start seeing an improvement.
Petition : The incident involving Mini the cat (6 March 2021) resulted in a petition being started.
The Government’s response on 24 May 2021 to the recent Mini’s Law Petition with over 34,000 signatures (at present time)
“The police can take action under the Dogs Act 1871 where dogs are out of control and dangerous to other animals. The government will not amend the Hunting Act”.
An article, “Dogs attacking pets“ which has been produced by FHEUK, outlines the difficulties implementing this archaic law. This law is 150 years old, inadequate and weak to protect against domestic animal attacks and urgently needs reviewing/updating.
The dismissive and unsatisfactory response from this government is a disgrace and we need to keep momentum going to get justice for pets and wild animals chased and attacked by hunting hounds.
Hunting is despised by the majority of the public. No more flippant excuses from the government.
19 January 2017 :
19 Febuary 2009 :
Molly : Hunt apologises after ‘out of control’ hounds kill pet cat in garden
An ageing pet cat has been ripped apart in her own garden by hunting dogs which had strayed from the main pack.
About 12 dogs had broken off from the rest of the Western Hunt meeting at Sennen last week and rampaged through the Crean Bottoms area before four or five of the dogs chased after and caught Molly, a 15-year-old cat belonging to Amanda Richardson.
She saw and heard the dogs roaming round her garden and actually witnessed the moment when Molly was ripped apart.
“I think they were hunting at the top of the valley and about a dozen peeled off and came down into Crean Bottoms,
The huntsmen were slow to realise that their dogs were missing and they were running wild round my garden.
I ran round screaming and kicking at them but they ripped her apart and disembowelled her – it was horrific; I was appalled”.
Ms Richardson, who had owned Molly for 12 years, phoned Penwith dog wardens, three of them whom arrived very quickly but she said that they were unable to get the dogs under control and it was an hour and a half after Molly’s death before huntsmen rounded up the final dog.
05 August 1995 :
Area : Penzance, West Cornwall
Tikkidew : A cream Seal-Point Siamese cat, once the beloved pet of famous Cornish singer Brenda Wootton, was savaged to death by foxhounds near Penzance.
The 12 year-old cat named ‘Tikkidew’ was in its own garden near New Mill, when it was attacked and killed by hounds of the Western Fox Hounds, being exercised by Hunt Master, Mr Benjamin Sparrow.
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