At the organisation's annual general meeting in London delegates voted overwhelmingly for a motion demanding that the Government act as soon as possible to outlaw hunting with dogs.
The move is seen by animal rights activists as a significant boost, and an indication that the RSPCA is determined to play an even more active role in the campaign against blood sports.
The AGM also saw the seeming failure of the field sports lobby to join the RSPCA in large numbers and influence its policies from within. The one speaker who spoke in defence of hunting was clapped off the stage. The motion against hunting was then passed by a vote of 294 to five, with three abstentions.
Michael Foster's private member's bill to ban hunting with dogs had received the backing of the organisation. "But now that it appears likely to fail because of lack of time, we believe it is imperative the Goverment should bring in its own legistlation", said a spokeswoman. "We know that 411 MPs and 73 per cent of the population would support such a move, and we believe the Government should acknowledge this strength of feeling."
In the meantime the Masters of Foxhounds Assocation, the governing body of foxhunting, announced it will be holding an urgent inquiry tomorrow following revelations by the Independent that two trapped foxcubs had been discovered in a cage on land belonging to a leading hunt, The Sinnington, based near Pickering, Yorkshire. The matter is already the subject of an investigation by the RSPCA and animal cruelty charges may follow.
There is believed to be deep embarrassment among field sports supporters about the Sinnington revelation, which undermines the claim that hunting is a form of rural pest control. The MFHA has stressed it is not taking the allegations lightly, and its inquiry will be thorough. However, it will be held in private, and the public will not be admitted.
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