The Essex and Suffolk Hunt kennels were subjected to an arson attack during the early hours of Sunday morning, during which 41 couple of hounds and four horses were let out.
Police and fire fighters were called to the kennels, near Hadleigh in Essex, after vandals set light to a dustbin and fence. “Hunt Scum,” was sprayed in aerosol on the road in a parting gesture, leading to the assumption that hunt saboteurs were mostly probably to blame.
Suffolk police confirm that the incident occurred at around 1:20am on Sunday 20 November. “A fire had been started in a wheely bin situated outside the main gate of the kennels and horses and hounds had been let out,” said a spokesperson.
The frightened animals had not ventured far when huntsman Gary Thorpe arrived on the scene. “It was lucky they did not go trotting down the road to the high street,” said Liz Mort, Eastern regional spokesman for the Countryside Alliance. “It could have been a lot worse, there might have been a serious accident. We have our ideas about who it was.”
According to Thorpe, it would have taken more than one person to let out the horses and hounds and get away so quickly. As yet no group has claimed responsibility for the incident but police took statements from Thorpe and his mother and will be analysing CCTV footage from Hadleigh.
The Essex and Suffolk Hunt has been the target of saboteurs virtually every Saturday this season. “Hunting horns have been used to call hounds onto the roads,” Thorpe told H&H. “And we are all over the website of North and East London Saboteurs.”
The Countryside Alliance is outraged that hunts are being subjected to what they describe as ‘terrorism’.
“We are trying to hunt within the law and we are still subjected to mindless vandalism by people who are clearly not animal lovers. If they loved animals they would not have opened the main gates leading to the High Street,” says Mort
CA spokesman Jill Grieve said: “The disregard for animal welfare that was displayed on Sunday morning shows the desperate lengths animal activists are increasingly willing to go to. This act of vandalism has nothing whatsoever to do with animal welfare, and everything to do with causing the maximum amount of damage with the minimum amount of thought or care.”
Hadleigh Police are appealing to anyone with information to contact PC Mel Hayward (tel: 01473 613500).
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