North Down hunt dogs kill cat in Kircubbin

Sophie the cat Lisa Smith's cat Sophie was killed by foxhounds on Saturday afternoon

A Kircubbin woman has called for the hunting laws in Northern Ireland to be changed after her cat was killed by dogs from the North Down hunt.

Lisa Smith's cat Sophie was torn apart by about 10 dogs that came into her back garden on Saturday afternoon.

The dogs had been hunting a fox when they left the field and entered Ms Smith's garden.

The North Down hunt has apologised to her for the "terrible accident".

Fox hunting is banned in the rest of the UK but is still legal in Northern Ireland.

Ms Smith owns seven cats and the others, apart from Sophie, escaped the foxhounds.

"There was about 10 dogs in my garden with more dogs really, really, struggling to break their way through the fence," she told Talkback.

"I was shouting and screaming and clapping my hands trying to get them to go away.

"Poor little Sophie was in her cat house and she popped her head out the cat flap. One of the foxhounds dragged her out of her house.

"I am not going to go into any graphic detail but I am quite sure everybody can imagine what happened next when a pack of 10 to 15 dogs, that have been trained to kill, got a hold of her.

"I wasn't physically hurt but the fact is these dogs killed a cat on my private property and that poor animal must have suffered horribly."

Law change

For that reason Ms Smith wants to see a change to the hunting law in Northern Ireland.

"I do feel that the animal welfare laws in Northern Ireland are flimsy and weak," she said.

"I know they have recently been revised but I still feel there is a way to go.

"I have never been a supporter of any sport or activity where people or animals get hurt. Why they have to breed and hunt innocent animals - whether they be foxes, a cat or whatever - it's barbaric."

In a statement, a spokesman for the North Down hunt apologised for a "terrible accident".

"Unfortunately there was some gorse and the dogs that are normally very disciplined went 'under cover'.

"It was all over very quickly. We are sorry and apologise profusely.

"Our hunt did not go out and intentionally kill that day. We are not a blood-thirsty bunch.

"There is a big mix of society who hunt in our club and we are very sorry"

Lyall Plant, the chief executive of the Countryside Alliance, also apologised to Ms Smith.

"The hunt tried in vain to call the hounds off and it took them a few minutes to get them back under control.

"It's a very, very sad incident and I know the hunt are just as much choked about this as anybody else.

"They have never had any incident like this in the history of the North Down hunt."

The incident has been reported to the PSNI. In a statement they said that the dog warden had been informed and enquiries were continuing.

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