Bucks Co. woman claims attack during fox hunt

January 19, 2012 7:04:31 PM PST
A suburban Philadelphia woman wants a county-wide ban on fox hunts after she says hounds taken out for a New Year's Day hunt attacked her and her aging dog.

Officials in Bucks County are investigating complaints about a local fox hunt.

Some residents say the hounds are going after more than the foxes.

Bucks County Commissioner Chair Robert Loughery says they are reviewing the situation.

"It was just absolutely terrifying," said Judy Cox.

Judy Cox, her husband, and two Labradors had been on a New Year's Day walk in the Bucks County Park behind their Jamison home.

From the distance they saw horses and dogs and recognized the fox hunt.

The Coxes were within 50 yards of their home when they say five hounds caught up to them, knocking down and attacking Judy and their dog Daisy.

"We were bit," said Judy. "We spent the afternoon taking my dog to emergency veterinary care."

Claire and Richard Harris founders of the Huntington Valley Hunt in nearby Buckingham Township say they had been out with 24 hounds and roughly twenty people on horseback.

Richard says the incident happened so quickly, he didn't learn about it until later. Claire says she stayed while police were called and walked the Coxes back to their home.

"The people appeared to be fine; the dog appeared to be fine. Of course they were frightened; as anyone would be," said Claire Harris.

Fox hunter Claire Harris says the group meant no harm. She tells the Doylestown Intelligencer the bites were an accident and nothing like that has happened before.

But Judy Cox counters in addition to fear she was scratched and severely bruised on her arm, while her dog who is blind and has hip dysplasia sustained multiple bites.

The Coxes say fox-hunting in the park is a public risk, and are trying to get it banned in Bucks County.

"All we can think about is God forbid this would happen to a young child that was smaller and down to their level," Judy said.

The facility's website speaks to the history of the sport. While the activity is referred to as a hunt, the Harrises say it's actually a chase, explaining they track, but don't trap the foxes.

The Harrises say hounds use their sense of smell, not sight to track, and that Judy and Daisy happened to be standing directly in the line of the foxes scent, confusing the hounds.

"We interact with all the people we meet in the countryside, and animals and farms, it's very unusual," said Richard Harris.

The Harrises run fox hunts at Dark Hollow Park and at other sites twice a week from September through March. They say people of all ages take part.

Warwick Township Police say the only incident they have on record with the club is from 10 years ago, when an officer was bitten picking up a stray dog.

The case has been turned over to the State Attorney General's office.

No charges have been filed

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Information from: The Intelligencer