A hunt has apologised unreservedly after its hounds killed a much-loved pet cat as they “ran out of control”.
One dog snatched the terrified animal from under a car in a private garden and “shook her like a rag doll”, the owner told The Independent.
Hunt organisers said they were reviewing their procedures to prevent another pet being killed.
Rebecca Bingham said her two-year-old cat, called Spider, was sitting on a wall at the end of her yard when the hounds came running.
“Before she had chance to move, one jumped up on the wall,” she said. “She then dodged and hid underneath the car, but it crawled under after her, brought her out, jaws clamped around her stomach, and shook her like a rag doll.
“But by the time we managed to get the dog to release her, she was the gasping for air, and within a minute she was passed away.”
Ms Bingham said Spider, whom she had had since birth, was “a real beauty, and was still in my eyes a baby”.
The two mounted riders, from the High Peak Hunt, were not hunting but appeared to be out exercising with the hounds, she said.
The hounds had frequently tried to push through the family’s gate to get to their cats or the cat food they put down, Ms Bingham said, adding: “We have had to remove them from our property more than once because of this.”
A friend of hers posted on Facebook: “Please if you know of, or see anything, anywhere, report it as wildlife crime. This isn't okay, and no one should have to worry about their precious babies being injured or losing their life due to some folk enjoying this so-called ‘sport’.”
A local anti-hunt group appealed for information or photos of the attack to report it to police and the RSPCA.
A spokesperson from the High Peak Hunt said the hounds were being walked out in an area where they were routinely exercised without incident by professional hunt staff.
The statement added: “The hunt has been in contact with the cat owner and apologised unreservedly for the distress this has caused.
“Incidents of this nature involving hounds are incredibly rare due to the professionalism with which the hounds are handled in kennels and throughout their lives; however, the hunt has taken this matter very seriously and is reviewing their procedures to prevent any reoccurrence.”
In October, a different pack of hunt hounds was suspected of killing a cat at a kennels and pet-rescue centre in County Durham.
The League Against Cruel Sports says during cub-hunting season, from August to the end of October, it received 11 reports of pets being chased or injured by hunting hounds, and 25 reports of livestock being worried.
Last hunting season, which ended in March, the league had 18 reports of domestic pets being chased or injured by hounds and 65 reports of livestock worrying.
Two years ago a pack of hunting hounds thundered through a cat sanctuary in Sussex, causing more than 60 terrified animals to flee during their evening feed.
Hunting is believed to have mostly stopped now in tier 4, a spokeswoman said, but is still going ahead in other tiers. But the Fox Hunting Evidence UK group said: “They are out the same as usual regardless of what tier they are in.”
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