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Fury over barbaric fox hunting pictures posted by Armagh woman

Charlene Rafferty: To be honest, it’s just like pest control, people look at things through tinted glass

By Patricia Devlin

Published 20/04/2015

Horrific: The controversial images of Rafferty’s dog Buffy attacking a fox
Horrific: The controversial images of Rafferty’s dog Buffy attacking a fox
Charlene Rafferty and Leanne Hawthorne who call themselves the Pink Lady Hunters.
Charlene Rafferty with her lurchers

This is the sickening scene of animal cruelty described by a mother-of-two as 'pest control'.

Self-styled' lady hunter' Charlene Rafferty says she sees nothing wrong with allowing her lurcher dog to tear apart defenceless animals.

The Armagh woman — who describes herself online as one of the ‘Pink Lady Hunters’ — proudly posted the picture of her dog savaging a fox on social media with the words “that’s my girl” earlier this year.

The mobile phone snap shows her dog Buffy tearing at the animal’s bloodied face.

The sickening picture was ‘liked’ over 70 times, with some even praising the dog’s “work”.

One wrote: “Good pic well done”.

When challenged over the picture by one social media user, who called the image “absolutely sick”, Rafferty replied: “Foxes kill chickens, cats, lambs and sheep. They are vermin.”

When contacted by Sunday Life last week, Rafferty denied taking part in blood sport and said the picture was an example of “pest control”.

“To be honest, it’s just like pest control. A lot of farmers do it in this way,” she said.

Asked about the suffering the animal would have endured, the young mum replied: “I understand where people are coming from. But everyone has opinions.

Charlene Rafferty and Leanne Hawthorne who call themselves the Pink Lady Hunters.
Charlene Rafferty and Leanne Hawthorne who call themselves the Pink Lady Hunters.
Charlene Rafferty with her lurchers
Horrific: The controversial images of Rafferty’s dog Buffy attacking a fox

“But sometimes people look at things through tinted glass.”

She added: “I don’t really want to comment on this any further.”

Despite the lurcher racer’s denials about being involved in bloodsports, she regularly boasts about her hunting escapades on Facebook.

Last year she and fellow Northern Ireland Lurcher Racing Club (NILRC) member Leanne Hawthorne posted a medley of sickening snaps on the social media site.

The pair, who signed the videos off with the name ‘Pink Lady Hunters X’, can be seen proudly holding up mauled animals.

In one image, Rafferty holds up a dead fox by the neck as its insides hang out.

In another picture Hawthorne, who calls Rafferty her “best friend”, is seen holding up a headless hare. Another shows the brunette using what appears to be a dead rabbit as a tugging toy for her lurcher dog.

Under one of the videos, Hawthorne writes: “good work... up the pinkies lol xxxx”.

However when contacted by Sunday Life last week, Hawthorne said: “I haven’t hunted in a year because I have had other things going on in my life.

“But if someone asked me in the morning to help them with pest control on their land, I would.”

USPCA Chief Stephen Philpott described the image as “horrific” and called on politicians to re-examine legislation here.

“This is exactly why legislation in Northern Ireland needs to get in line with the rest of the UK,” he said.

“We are five years out of step — and the question to ask is, why?”

Fox hunting with dogs is legal in Northern Ireland but is banned in the rest of the UK.

In Britain anyone found hunting the animals with dogs, faces jail or a fine of up to £5,000.

Both the prison term and fine can rise if the offence caused unnecessary suffering to an animal.

Mr Philpott added: “This barbaric, cruel and sickening activity is just as terrifying for the dog as it is for the fox.

“Even if the reason given here is that the fox was posing a threat, there are more humane ways to destroy it. I believe this is just barbaric.”

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