spacer
The Vacuum Issue 4 spacer Issue 4
Belfast Historical Animal Cruelty
'almost exclusively confined to the very dregs of society'
Drawings by Duncan Ross
spacer
spacer
Thomas Mc Tear, born in Belfast in 1800, recalled that in the early years of the nineteenth century cock fights were very frequent, and were attended by gentlemen of the town, as well as poorer people: 'and no one had any idea that either bull baiting or cock fighting was anything else than a proper and gentlemanly amusement'. The Point fields, between York Street and the Lagan, was a popular rendezvous for cock fights, dog fights, bull baiting and prize fights. Baiting badgers with terriers was another popular Belfast pastime.
spacer
Cock and dogfights were reported to be especially popular around Easter in the fields near Belfast.
spacer
In 1841 the Belfast Branch of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to animals (S.P.C.A.) requested the police commissioners to implement anti-cruelty policies.
spacer
Once the authorities set their faces against blood sports the wealthier sections of Belfast society seem to have lost their taste for them.
spacer
Belfast Historical Animal Cruelty
spacer
Belfast's anti-cruelty society consisted to a large extent of evangelical clergymen and other individuals who viewed the lower classes with both contempt and fear.
spacer
In April 1848 the Reverend D.Hamilton considered dog and cock fighting as 'two especial engines of Satan'
spacer
'an evil not only to the animals engaged, but also one that was productive of the greatest moral mischief to those who encouraged and promoted such sports-productive of cruelty, dissipation, drunkenness, and rioting of every description'. John Clarke SPCA. 1859
spacer
Belfast Historical Animal Cruelty
spacer
In July 1853 a man was sentenced to a fine of 10s or fourteen days in jail for 'dragging a bag full of ducks through Calendar Street in such a manner as to excite the indignation of the passers by'.
spacer
spacer
Belfast Historical Animal Cruelty
spacer
In February 1858 a Belfast man killed two rats with his teeth for a 5s wager. The rats' tails were fastened to a table with nails, and the gambler had to kill the rats in less time than it took a dog to kill three rats which were turned loose on the floor. The dog won the race. The sportsman's face was bitten 'severely' by one of the hapless rats on the table.
spacer
Constable Heaney spotted a woman named Bella Kane suspend a dog over a pond in Millfield by a rope tied round it's neck, while William John Stewart pelted it with stones.
spacer
Belfast Historical Animal Cruelty
spacer
On 17th April 1856 thirty car loads of enthusiasts left the town to hold a dog fight in Carrick Fergus.
spacer
In June 1862 a scripture reader named John Wiley killed a boy's dog on the Shankhill Road by running the prongs of a pitchfork through it's eyes and disembowelling it with a knife.
spacer
spacer
home | information | issues | artists & writers | columns | reviews
spacer