ITV was given secret footage from an anti-hunting group that showed staff at the kennels of the Duke of Beaufort’s Hunt in Badminton, Gloucestershire putting down dogs with guns. One video showed a man lining up a dog, shooting it in the back of the head and disposing of the body via a wheelbarrow. Another video showed someone needing to shoot a dog twice as the first shot did not cleanly kill the animal.
While not illegal, the practice of killing sick or injured dogs will shock a lot of the UK public who may be unaware of what goes on during hunts.
The Duke of Beaufort’s Hunt told ITV News that its hounds are “humanely euthanised” if they cannot be rehomed.
But they explained many of the animals would not be suitable to be rehomed as they lack the required house training and have only lived in a pack environment.
Anti-hunting groups, the Hunt Investigation Team and Keep the Ban, captured the events between April and September and shared the footage with ITV News.
Rob Pownall, Keep The Ban founder, said: “It’s some pretty upsetting footage but this is commonplace for hunts across the country. This is not an acceptable way to end an animal’s life. These hounds suffered immense pain.
“The activities shown in the video aren’t actually illegal, but there’s no moral defence for what’s shown.”
Anti-hunting activists also told ITV that many dogs were “thrown away like garbage” if they were no longer “fit for purpose”.
Conservative MP Tracey Crouch, who is co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare, said the footage of the hounds being shot dead is “absolutely heartbreaking” and “distressing”.
The body suspended all trail hunting licences in 2020 after a man was charged with intentionally encouraging or assisting others to commit an offence under the Hunting Act 2004.
The Hunting Act 2004 was the law that made fox hunting illegal in the UK.
National Trust members are set to vote on whether the hunt can go ahead which will see hounds and riders follow a scent “trail” to find animals.