On Wednesday 15 July, the Government will introduce a motion in the House of Commons 'to approve a statutory instrument relating to hunting'.
The motion will propose amendments to the 2004 Hunting Act, which would have potentially disastrous consequences for the welfare of some of our most treasured wildlife. If successful, these amendments would result in a return to wild mammals including foxes, hares and deer being chased and killed by packs of hounds, much as they were before the Hunting Act came into force.
The amendments include the removal of the current restriction that allows no more than two dogs to stalk or flush a wild mammal (fox, deer, hare) to guns, which would enable a full pack of dogs to be used. The motion also proposes adding the suspicion that a wild animal may be diseased to the excuses hunters can fall back on when they hunt with packs, something that will be very difficult to verify.
If this motion passes, I fear we could return to the ugly spectre of foxes, hares, deer and other animals being chased to exhaustion across our countryside and ripped apart by dogs, something I thought we had rightly committed to the history books.
As a veterinary professional committed to upholding the highest possible standards of animal welfare, I am opposed to any dilution or repeal of the Hunting Act, which has proved to be one of our most successful pieces of wildlife protection legislation.
The hunting of wild mammals with dogs is barbaric and cruel, does not represent a humane or effective method of wild animal population control or a suitable method for dealing with diseased wild animals, and has no place in modern society.
The majority of the UK public, both urban and rural, rightly oppose the cruelty of hunting with dogs and support the retention of the Hunting Act in its current form. I call upon all members of my profession and its professional bodies, to whom the public look for guidance and direction when it comes to matters concerning animal welfare, to do the same.