Couple’s horror at hounds’ return

Staintondale hunt near the Atkinsons' home last week, and below, a memorial stone to Moppet.

Staintondale hunt near the Atkinsons' home last week, and below, a memorial stone to Moppet.

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A COUPLE have spoken of their horror at seeing a pack of hunting hounds bounding past their Ravenscar home – little more than a month after their beloved pet cat was savaged and killed by 27 dogs.

Les and Margaret Atkinson told the Evening News they had been assured by hunt members at the time of the incident that they would be given advance notice if they planned to be near their property.

Moppet's epitaph on a dry stone wall near to the Atkinson's house.

Moppet's epitaph on a dry stone wall near to the Atkinson's house.

But they were surprised last Tuesday when they saw hunt members on horses and dogs near their home but had been given no warning.

Mrs Atkinson said they had been out during the morning and when they returned they saw a lot of cars parked in a narrow lane near to their Stoupe Brow home, where they have lived for more than 30 years.

She said: “As I walked home I could see the hounds all over and I could see some running across the fields. I could see horses going past my house. As I got nearer I could see one of the hounds as it jumped over my wall into the lane by our house.”

Mrs Atkinson said that her husband took several pictures. One showed a hound just yards from where their cat Moppet was killed, and she felt like she was having to relive the traumatic event.

She said: “By the time I got back I was shaking like a leaf and I was in tears. I heard them coming along the lane. The dogs were out of control.”

Mr Atkinson added: “I couldn’t believe it – it was like we were reliving it all over again.”

Mrs Atkinson said if they had been warned then they could have made sure that their remaining pet cat, seven-year-old George, and five pet hens were safe and secure.

Members of the hunt are legally allowed to pass through a bridle track on the Atkinsons’ land.

Last month’s incident was during a joint meet between hunts from Staintondale and Goathland and initially a huntsman picked up a lifeless and bloodied Moppet and rode away after it was brutally attacked.

But the body was returned to the Atkinsons by members of the hunt two days later in a dogfood bag.

Last week’s hunt was by members from Staintondale and at the time of going to press no one from the group was available for comment.

Following the original incident hunt master Jean Clemmit said that they would take “preventative measures” in future.

And a spokesman for the Goathland Hunt said they would:

l leaflet residents living along any planned routes

l place marshals at properties

l make sure at least two people were with the hounds at all times.

When the Atkinsons reported last week’s incident to the police they were told that because there was no damage nor injury it was a civil matter.

The Atkinsons added that they had been overwhelmed by the messages of support they had received from members of the public when the story first hit the headlines last month.

Mr Atkinson said they had received a number of letters and Christmas cards – including one addressed to “The people whose cat was killed” – and an offer of a slate memorial stone.

He said: “He just rang up because he felt so terrible about it and said he’d like to offer a free headstone. I was very moved that someone was prepared to do that.”