Media Releases

Hidden-Camera Footage from Ontario Dog Hunting Pen Exposes Cruelty

TORONTO—Animal Justice is today releasing a new exposé with footage taken undercover at an Ontario dog hunting pen. The new video exposes the cruel reality of penned dog hunting—where hunters cage terrified coyotes and use them as live bait for dogs to hunt. 

In a controversial move, the provincial government quietly passed a new law in June that reversed a decades-long plan to phase out “train and trial areas”—enclosed outdoor dog hunting pens where animals such as foxes, coyotes, and rabbits are used as live bait to train hunting dogs. Prior to the new law, it had been illegal since 1997 to open up new dog hunting pens, or to sell existing ones. There are only 24 dog hunting pens left in Ontario, compared to 50-60 when the phase-out began. No other province allows penned dog hunting, and the practice is illegal in most US states.

An Animal Justice eyewitness visited dog hunting pens earlier this year to get a firsthand look at the secretive bloodsport. What we found was shocking. Dog hunting pens often host contests where dogs are scored by a panel of judges based on their ability to track the captive animals. We filmed the heartbreaking, frightened faces of coyotes who were forced to run for their lives, week after week, in these cruel competitions. Participants often compete for cash prizes, and many spoke coldly of the dogs they train to chase wild animals, threatening violence toward dogs who didn’t perform well.

“This new undercover exposé shows terrified, caged coyotes running for their lives while being chased by dogs—a cruel practice that is illegal everywhere else in Canada except for Ontario,” said lawyer Camille Labchuk, executive director of Animal Justice. “Most people oppose hunting animals for entertainment, and it’s especially troubling to chase, harass, and kill coyotes, foxes, hares, and other animals when they have no way to escape. We’re calling on Ontario to stop listening to extremist hunting lobbyists, and start respecting the will of compassionate people who believe it’s wrong to hunt and maim defenceless, captive animals.”

Hunting lobbyists like the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters and Ontario Sporting Dog Association claim that animals are never hurt or killed in these pens. But this is false—competitors admitted on camera that the dogs regularly catch, maim, and kill coyotes throughout the season, and that pen owners have to restock pens with new coyotes. Animal Justice has also gathered extensive photo and video evidence from closed Facebook groups showing hunters encouraging dogs to maul and kill coyotes, and posts showing dogs who sustained injuries during the hunts.

Animal Justice and a coalition of leading animal protection organizations have written to Natural Resources Minister Graydon Smith, urging him to cancel plans to issue licenses for new dog hunting pens, and allow the transfer of existing licenses.
Two former conservation officers have also condemned the expansion, explaining that coyotes are regularly maimed and killed by dogs, and that oversight and enforcement is virtually impossible.


The undercover video is available here.
The letter sent to Minister Graydon Smith is available here.

Camille Labchuk
Executive Director
[email protected]