Six cats feared dead after animal sanctuary invaded by a pack of hunting hounds

It is feared that six cats may have been killed after a pack of hunting hounds caused havoc this week after chasing a fox and a deer through an animal sanctuary near Hastings.

The hounds rampaged through the Celia Hammond Animal Trust sanctuary in Brede for an hour and a half, terrifying the 130 cats which are resident there and resulting in over 60 of them going missing. A week after this horrific incident, 6 of them have not returned home and it is feared many have been killed – a lot of the cats that have gone missing were frail and elderly. It is not known what happened to the fox and deer being chased by the pack of hounds across the sanctuary.

Staff and volunteers at the sanctuary did everything they could to help protect the terrified cats which live on what is normally a safe haven for them over 100 acres of woodland and fields. They worked through the last two nights to find and help the distressed cats but were hampered by torrential rain. They now fear many have been literally torn to pieces by the hounds.

Most of the cats are very nervous and have proved difficult to find homes for, so the sanctuary normally enables them to live a safe and peaceful existence.

Staff and volunteers reported that the hounds were completely out of control and the police were called to help round them up. It appears that the East Sussex and Romney Marsh hunt is the hunt responsible for the incident and sanctuary staff alleged that they were hunting illegally.

A hunting ban was introduced across England and Wales in 2005 but the League Against Cruel Sports receives evidence from its monitors and concerned members of the public on an almost daily basis of hunts continuing to chase and kill British wildlife. Thousands of foxes, hares and deer are believed to be killed every year.

Celia Hammond, who founded the Celia Hammond Animal Trust, said: “Staff have been out looking for the cats for the last two nights but we fear up to ten may have been killed. “A few more might trickle back to our sanctuary but a lot of the missing cats were old and frail.”

Chris Luffingham, director of policy, communications and campaigns at the League Against Cruel Sports, said: “This was a terrible incident and we can but hope that the cats all return safely. People everywhere would be horrified if they knew the extent to which the hunts are flouting the hunting ban and the people breaking the law need to be caught and prosecuted by the police.

“We need to strengthen the hunting act to ensure that the reckless behaviour exhibited by the hunt is considered an offence and custodial sentences are introduced to deter terrible incidents such as this taking place.”

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