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Hares should have the same rights as pet rabbits

We have disturbing anomalies in our animal-welfare code. A few days ago, the alleged killing of a rabbit on a Dublin housing estate drew a swift police response.

Plain clothes and uniformed gardaí, including a forensics team, descended on the garden at the centre of the incident.

Gardaí should investigate animal cruelty.

But it’s perverse that the same legislation that obliges gardaí to clamp down on cruelty to a pet rabbit permits the organised ill-treatment of its country cousin, the hare. While it is an offence to harm or terrify a pet rabbit, coursing clubs are free to net thousands of hares, in our countryside, each year, to serve as live bait for greyhounds.

Arts Minister Jimmy Deenihan, whose brief includes the wildlife service, has to decide, in the coming weeks, whether to license another season of hare coursing. The minister should revoke the coursing license and end this ‘hare-brained’ approach to animal welfare, which shames our legal system.

John Fitzgerald

Campaign for the Abolition Of Cruel Sports


Co Kilkenny

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