Huntsman condemns dog killers

A HUNTSMAN whose two dogs were found shot and beaten to death has attacked the "calculated, deliberate cruelty" of the killers.RSPCA inspectors were called to Ray Lane in Harwich on Mondaywhere they found two dead beagles.

A HUNTSMAN whose two dogs were found shot and beaten to death has attacked the "calculated, deliberate cruelty" of the killers.

RSPCA inspectors were called to Ray Lane in Harwich on Mondaywhere they found two dead beagles.

Peter Ward, chairman of the Stour Valley Beagles Committee, said the local hunt was devastated by the deaths of Witchcraft, a five-year-old black and tan bitch, and Telltale, an eight-year-old tan and white bitch.

Witchcraft appeared to have been shot in the head while Telltale had all four legs broken and appeared to have been stamped on.

Mr Ward said: "Hunt members are devastated by the appalling cruelty that appears to have been perpetrated on the two bitches. The hunt joins with the RSPCA in calling for those responsible for these callous acts to be found and punished."

The Stour Valley Beagles were hunting just south of Wix on the afternoon of Wednesday January 7.

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At the end of the day, three hounds were missing, including one, which had been the victim of a road accident on the A120.

Mr Ward said huntsman Stephen Batchelor and others continued to look for Witchcraft and Telltale until well after 9.30pm. Hunt staff and supporters also searched local countryside for the next few days without success.

When the hounds were found by a bridlepath near the Ramsey Sewage Works they were identified by the tattoo marks in their ears.

Mr Ward added: "On present evidence it seem that these dogs had been killed after acts of cruelty had been inflicted on them. Both hounds had been mothers of previous litters of puppies and had gentle, friendly dispositions.

"This is absolutely despicable. Whatever you think about hunting this is an act of calculated, deliberate cruelty."

Stour Valley Master, Deborah Pratt, added: "How anyone could be so cruel as to mistreat these dogs in this way is beyond belief."

RSPCA inspector Jim Farr said a vet had carried out post-mortem examinations and it appeared Witchcraft was shot and had an abdominal rupture but that further x-rays would be carried out.

It is thought a severe spine fracture killed Telltale, who also suffered three broken legs and a dislocated leg after death.

Mr Farr said: "We do think these dogs died as a result of foul play and somebody must know something about it. The perpetrators need to be punished."

The Stour Valley Beagles cover south and mid Suffolk and north and east Essex and have about 200 members. The hunt was formed in 1992 after an amalgamation of the Colchester Garrison Beagles, founded in 1861, and the Sproughton Foot Beagles, started in 1909.

Anyone with any information should contact the RSPCA in confidence on 0800 555 5999 or Harwich police on 01255 221312.

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