UnRisk 7

Connaught Square Squirrel Hunt

The Connaught Square Squirrel Hunt is the world’s only urban hunt and the first hunt club founded after the 2004 hunting ban. Their recent meet was on Sunday, 17th September, starting, as they usually do, with a glass of port at the Duke of Kendal pub, Connaught Street.

The CSSH drag-hunt squirrels across Hyde Park, meaning that one member runs through the park with an old sock on a string, and the dog chases after this pretend 'squirrel.' Close on the paws of the dog are the hundred or so sweating followers, trying to keep up. After no more than thirty seconds the dog catches the sock, has a good chew, and after a short break for everyone to catch their breath, it all starts again.

Here's Dillon and master, on 'horseback.' On the way to Hyde Park we all stop outside 29 Connaught Square, the retirement home for Tony Blair, for a photo opp for the horde of media. The hunt say they named themselves after this square to remind TB about what they call his worst piece of legislation.

The 'squirrel' is just an old sock, but Dillon still seems to enjoy the chase.

Your fearless reporter gets trampled by the mob. And Dillon gets his breath back for a repeat performance.

The purpose of the hunt is explained on their website as follows.

It is absurd that the Hunting Act prohibits you from encouraging a dog to chase a squirrel. More than that, it is frightening that your dog could be put down and you could be fined £5,000 for saying “Go on Rover, get after it!”.

What is really sinister though, is that if a policeman thought you might want your dog to chase a squirrel in the future, he could raid your home and confiscate evidence.. All this without a warrant from a Magistrate: even a suspected burglar has more rights than a suspected Squirrel-Hunter!

When we realised that the innocent habits of most dog-owners were illegal, it was clear that this should be publicised as much as possible. People should be made aware of the law and how to act within it. And the more people that think the Hunting Act is an ass, the more people will support its repeal.