A Cornish hunt attacked and killed a domestic cat in March 2021. While police continue investigating the incident, owner Carly Jose is leading a campaign for legal change to stop such attacks from happening again. And she spoke to Phoenix Media Co-op about her expectations.
The Western Hunt killed Mini as it exercised its hounds on 6 March near Madron. Video by a neighbour shows a member of the hunt picking up Mini’s dead body and throwing her over a fence. Police started investigating days later, following national outcry over the attack.
Jose told Phoenix Media Co-op that the case is currently with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). She said this was “utter relief” following a report by local independent news website Cornwall Reports that suggested the police were taking no further action. However, Jose also said the CPS stage is one that she “isn’t sure of”.
In the meantime, Jose is leading a campaign for Mini’s Law. The campaign wants to stop hunts from attacking or killing pets by preventing them from entering residential areas. The author of this article spoke to anti-hunting group Keep The Ban about Mini’s Law for anti-hunting news site The Citro. And in that article, Keep The Ban said the “proposed legislation” would change existing law in three ways:
- No hunting activity that uses a live animal can take place in a residential area or in any other place where a portion of the public might be.
- No hunting activity can take place on public roads or footpaths.
- All hunting activities must be pre-planned with dates and locations of meets made publicly available.
And in addition to protecting domestic animals, it would help stop other problems of hunt havoc such as horses and hounds on busy roads.
Putting animals first
Anti-hunting legislation has proved problematic. The Hunting Act 2004 was supposed to have ended hunting with hounds in England and Wales. But the experience and evidence of hunt saboteurs and monitors has consistently revealed hunts exploiting loopholes in the law. In particular, using the concept of trail hunting as a smokescreen for real hunting.
Phoenix Media Co-op asked Jose if she’s concerned hunts might find and exploit loopholes in Mini’s Law. She said:
Of course that’s a massive worry the laws aren’t made fit for purpose. … But I think Mini’s Law is very cleverly done to help in the right way.
Speaking to The Citro, Keep The Ban explained that Mini’s Law “revolves around where hunts can and can’t go and will ensure that residents and animals are put first”.
The police concluded their investigation in mid-May. Jose said her experience with officers was mostly positive, saying that:
The officer on the day, when I had Mini in my arms, was very emotionless and cold – but they came out very quickly. The officer who came to see me for my statement and arranged for Mini to be sent off was fantastic. She was compassionate and caring and worked with the RSPCA. I also had guidance from a lovely retired chief inspector who works with the League Against Cruel Sports. When an officer emailed me at one point with a possible no go on animal cruelty, I spoke to [the retired inspector] for his advice and the officer took this on board when the charging options went through.
Nonetheless, it’s the CPS that has the final say on whether a case goes to court. And the unpredictability of CPS judgements leaves Jose saying she is ‘very worried’ about the final decision. “So far it’s been good… [but] now it’s with the CPS who knows?” she said. “I certainly will challenge things not going the way they should.”
The government provided its first response to the Mini’s Law petition on 24 May, saying:
The police can take action under the Dogs Act 1871 where dogs are out of control and dangerous to other animals. This Government will not amend the Hunting Act.
Jose told Phoenix Media Co-op that she was at first “disheartened” but quickly recognised it as a default governmental response. “The Hunting Act has nothing to do with hounds out of control in residential areas,” she said. And Keep The Ban described the response as “insufficient”.
Hunting hounds fall into a problematic grey area. The Hunting Act focuses on the mechanics of hunting wild mammals, which domestic animals are not. Meanwhile, as Fox Hunting Evidence UK highlights, the case law of Sansom v Chief Constable of Kent 1981 has set a precedent against finding dogs guilty of killing ‘small animals’. The CPS website explains that the case:
provides that it was in the nature of dogs to chase, wound and kill other small animals. In this case, the killing of two rabbits was not considered to be ‘dangerous’. Prosecutors should be mindful of this case when considering cases involving dog attacks on animals smaller than itself.
Mini’s Law appears to fill in a glaring loophole.
Jose is undeterred by the latest development. She said she doesn’t want “the amazing support to stop because of this response”. Indeed, people have continued signing the petition since 24 May, suggesting that the momentum continues.
Main article image via Carly Jose, used with permission