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Soapbox: Passion, Politics and Preventing the Persecution of Animals

A Day in the Life of the League Against Cruel Sports

By Joe Duckworth, Chief Executive



The League Against Cruel Sports was set up 90 years ago with one key focus – to ban hunting. I personally feel proud that I’m working for the same organisation which stood up, all those years ago, to say ‘no more’, particularly when in those days it was perhaps even harder to fight the ‘establishment’ than it is now.

The fight against hunting with dogs has been long and hard. Ten years ago it felt like we’d won – the Hunting Act in England and Wales (and similar legislation two years previously in Scotland) meant that hunting was banned. And despite what you might read, the Act has been a tremendous success, with more convictions and a higher conviction rate than any other piece of wild animal welfare legislation.

However, a minority still flout the law and treat it with disrespect, and so the fight continues. As an organisation, and one which we know represents the views of a huge number of people in this country, our passion to defend animals is as strong as ever. We are not just fighting against hunting, because there are many other related ways in which animals are killed or made to suffer for man’s ‘pleasure’.

Our election ‘manifesto’ highlights five of the key battles we will be fighting over the next few years. If you agree that these issues are important, then please join us in our legal and determined campaign. The world is changing, and we’re aiming to make sure it changes in a good way!

League Against Cruel Sports Election Manifesto

1. Hunting. The Hunting Act is working well, and repealing it would be a backward step and a disaster for a caring nation. We believe it can become more effective with some small improvements, including prohibiting the use of dogs below ground; inserting a ‘recklessness’ provision to ensure the killing of wild mammals during a ‘trail’ hunt cannot be passed off as an accident; and increasing the punishments available to the courts for those breaking the law.

2. Snares. Around 1.7m animals are caught by snares each year, many die a painful death, and around two thirds are unintended victims, ranging from hares and badgers to cats and dogs. The UK is one of only five EU countries where they are still legal. We believe snares are unnecessary, indiscriminate and inhumane and should be banned.

3. Shooting. Shooting for sport is on the rise, with around 50 million pheasants and partridges released into the countryside each year. The vast majority of these birds are factory-farmed before release or bred specifically to be shot; most are not ‘for the pot’ but just left to rot in mass graves. We are calling for an inquiry into these commercial shoots, focussing on the animal welfare, economic and ecological impacts surrounding them.

4. Dog Fighting. Despite being illegal, dog fighting is on the increase. This includes a range of ‘fights’ from organised, big-money bouts through to dog-owners meeting in the park for a ‘rumble’. What they have in common is the cruelty inflicted on the dogs throughout their lives. The League is calling for action from the next Government to toughen the penalties for dog fighting and to give more support to police forces, local authorities and schools to help tackle this growing problem.

5. Greyhound Racing. Almost ten years ago, media reports exposed the dreadful lives and premature deaths suffered by racing dogs – many still remember the ‘mass graves’ that were discovered. It was clear that cruelty, drug abuse, injury, neglect and killing were rife in greyhound racing – yet a decade on, what has been done to change that? We’re a nation of dog lovers but we are allowing an industry to control the fate of thousands of dogs without proper regulation or monitoring. We want a series of measures brought in to remedy the many serious issues.

Those are our key policies, though of course there are many other issues about which we’re concerned, such as the badger cull in the UK and bullfighting in Spain and several other countries.

I don’t believe that any of the issues I’ve raised above will be opposed by many, other than perhaps those who take part in the activities. None  of them will cost much to implement. Yet the laws, policies and alterations that need to be in place need a government willing to act. That government, of whatever colour, needs to know that people care about cruelty to animals. They need to know that Animals Matter.


Free speech is a right that is worth preserving. Every month we give our SOAPBOX pages to others to tell us their view of the world. 

Our election ‘manifesto’ highlights five of the key battles we will be fighting over the next few years. If you agree that these issues are important, then please join us in our legal and determined campaign.

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