Celia Hammond trust says 60 cats fled during ‘terrifying’ incident
The whereabouts of nine cats from the Celia Hammond Animal Trust in Sussex is unknown, after a “terrifying” incident saw a pack of foxhounds run onto the sanctuary’s land during a hunt.
Initially, 60 cats fled the scene but many have since returned or been found by staff and volunteers.
The charity wrote on its Facebook page yesterday (10 January): ‘There has been a terrifying incident yesterday afternoon at our Greenacres Sanctuary near Hastings. A pack of fox hounds ran into the Sanctuary and then split into two groups one chasing a fox and the other chasing a deer…
‘The hounds invaded at afternoon feeding time, there were dogs running everywhere, completely out of control, terrified cats were fleeing in all directions. Staff and volunteers who were present tried desperately to chase the dogs off and protect the animals.’
Police also attended to help round up the dogs, which took over an hour, the trust said. Staff and volunteers at the sanctuary searched in nearby woodland amid heavy rain overnight. Whilst many returned or were found, nine cats are still unaccounted for.
The sanctuary shelters around 130 cats (largely feral and semi-feral), who are free to roam the house and 100 acres of land.
A spokesperson for the East Sussex and Romney Marsh Hunt was quoted by the Independent as saying: “We can confirm that hounds met at Udimore, near Rye on 9 January and were legally trail-hunting throughout the day to comply with the Hunting Act 2004.
“Although nobody from the hunt witnessed hounds following anything other than their original trail, it is suspected that a few hounds might have deviated from their trail onto the scent of a live quarry which they followed into the wildlife sanctuary.’
The spokesperson said staff removed the hounds “immediately” with the help of police and apologised to the owners for “any inconvenience”. According to the statement, the hunt has agreed to repair any damage to fencing but “is not aware of any missing animals or of any injuries caused”.
Sussex Police wrote on its Twitter page: ‘Incident at Celia Hammond Animal Trust near Hastings on Tues (9 Jan): We attended on the day. The circumstances are being reviewed by a dog legislation officer to establish whether any criminal offences have taken place. If so, they will be investigated. We'll update when able.’