‘Animal cruelty in N. Ireland – double standards in political action?’

Posted on March 5, 2013


Today (5th March), an item was posted on the web-site of the League Against Cruel Sports (LACS) titled ‘Animal cruelty in N. Ireland – double standards in political action?’.

‘… Double standards in politics are all too often overlooked, passed off as an inevitable consequence of the modern day government model. But, when the casualties of those double standards have no voice of their own, then politicians and the public alike have a duty to protect them, including against hypocrisy.

Let us take badger baiting as one example of animal cruelty in N. Ireland. This supposed ‘sport’ involves pitching dogs against badgers, often resulting in horrific injuries and deaths. Although illegal throughout the UK, sadly, the League Against Cruel Sports’ investigators and other experts report that badger baiting is still prolific.

Thanks to the excellent investigative work of the Ulster Society Prevention Cruelty to Animals (USPCA), this heinous crime has recently been given some high profile exposure. Their shocking reports have led to public outrage, as people have learned about the cruelty to animals taking place in their countryside. Politicians, journalists and the public rightly condemned this activity as barbaric, belonging to the dark ages; and utterly cruel.

However, these words were not aimed at the species of animal being subjected to this cruelty; but at the actual act of cruelty itself – killing an animal for entertainment and fun by setting a pack of dogs on it until it is mauled horrifically to death.

Let us now take another example of animal cruelty that is still very much legal in N. Ireland – hunting foxes, deer, hares and mink with hounds. Made illegal in Scotland over ten years ago, and banned in England and Wales in 2004 – N. Ireland is lagging far behind the rest of the UK in eradicating this cruelty.

Recently, the Assembly have been quite proactive on animal welfare legislation. In 2010 it took the historic decision to ban hare coursing. Attempts to overturn this in 2011 were quashed and, instead, amendments were passed which actually strengthened the legislation. We have also seen attempts to improve animal welfare legislation in the Welfare of Animals (NI) Act 2011 and the Wildlife and Natural Environment Act.

However, despite all these welcome legislative measures, it is still legal to chase an animal across the countryside, from horseback, to exhaustion, until it is caught and ripped apart by a pack of dogs. I can only ask… what is the difference between setting a pack of dogs on a fox to setting a pack of dogs on a badger?

Of course, there is no difference. The act of cruelty and barbarity is exactly the same, yet one is legal and one is not. How can politicians condemn one as cruel, yet remain silent on the other? Why the hypocrisy? Why the mixed messages? Why is cruelty legal if it’s committed from horseback?

Those who don red coats, get on their high horses and terrorise wildlife in the countryside might try to describe their cruelty as a ‘noble sport,’ but the simple truth is that their actions are on the same appalling level as those involved in badger baiting, dog fighting and the recent cruelty we have seen to domestic pets in N. Ireland such as to Cody the dog.

Hunting with hounds has absolutely no place in a civilised and progressive society and politicians must enforce political action to make cruelty history in N. Ireland once and for all.

If, like me you want answers to these questions, then please write to your local MLAs and express your concerns about the double standards on political action towards animal cruelty in N.I. …’

Read the item and add your comment online at www.league.org.uk/blogpost/775/Animal-Cruelty-in-N–Ireland—Double-standards-in-political-action–

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