Hunting hounds risk

Hunting hounds pose a significant risk of passing infectious diseases to humans, particularly children, and there is ‘overwhelming’ evidence that hunting hounds pose a huge risk to the health of farm animals – and thus the livelihood of farmers – according to the most comprehensive study ever written on the spreading of disease by hunting hounds.

The independent report, commissioned by the League Against Cruel Sports, is an analysis of over a thousand published pieces of evidence in the public domain. Key findings include:

 Hounds used for hunting carry numerous infectious diseases which can be spread to humans, particularly children, at events such as the Boxing Day hunt parades and country shows. These diseases are known to hospitalise and sometimes kill people.

 While domestic dogs can also spread diseases, the risk from hunting hounds is far greater due to them being fed potentially diseased ‘fallen stock’ (carcasses of farm animals); a lack of standard veterinary precautions taken by hunts which are normal for pet owners; and the movement of hounds which regularly travel across farms and farmland, potentially carrying multiple diseases but without any biosecurity precautions.

 Hunting hounds are fed hundreds of thousands of carcasses of dead farm animals every year, even though a significant proportion of these will be diseased. While it is legal to feed disease-free fallen stock to hounds, EU Regulations make it illegal to feed animals on fallen stock that died from a disease that could infect animals and/or humans. So each animal needs to be examined post mortem to establish the cause of death before it is fed to hounds. Hunts routinely flout this Regulation.

 Diseases spread by hunting hounds to farm animals contribute to a substantial number of infections each year, costing the livestock and farming industries ‘millions’, as hunts regularly ignore ‘biosecurity’ measures which are designed to prevent disease spreading.

 At least 4000 hunt hounds are euthanised by hunts each year, many around 6-10 years old, often because they are too ill to keep up with the rest of the pack. Studies suggest many of these will have diseases but post mortems are rarely done. Breeding new hounds is cheaper than proper veterinary care, so diseased hounds are killed rather than cured.

You can read the full article on the League Against Cruel Sports' website here.