Sir – The fate of hunting hounds has been a concern of mine for many years, so it is good to see the debate on this topic has opened up once again.

All data available to me does suggest that there are many thousands of hounds put to sleep (or rather shot) each year. I am sure no-one will dispute that there are two ‘rounds’ of selection for bred hunting hounds.

After breeding the puppies are housed with local hunt supporters until they are approximately four to five months old.

Shortly after this point they are then ‘tested’ in what is referred to rather romantically as ‘Autumn Hunts’, though most will know it under the more accurate title of ‘Cub Hunting’ (which is still illegal if it involves any chasing of live foxes).

Those that don’t make the grade are rather unceremoniously destroyed. The next selection comes once the hounds reach a certain age and are no longer of use as hunting hounds. This is usually at the age of six to seven years old (though as a breed associated with very few health issues naturally, their natural lifespan is around 10-13 years).

I welcome the endorsement of Jon Burgess (Worcester News – 25th January), who judging from his previous letters is an ardent hunt supporter, that ‘any serious debate needs clear cut independent evidence rather than just hearsay’.

With this in mind, on behalf of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), I would urge both Jon, and his fellow hunt supporters to make publicly available hunts’ breeding and destruction records, in order to produce an independently verified report to help both pro-hunt and anti-hunt campaigners to publicly close down this debate once and for all.

In the meantime, based on the currently available data and the figure of 15,000 supplied by Jon Burgess, we can only assume that at least 2,500 hounds, most likely more, are needlessly destroyed each year, simply because they are no longer of use.

Compared with, according to their Annual Review, just 165 dogs euthanised by the RSPCA in 2013 for non-medical or legal reasons, this really does seem morally unacceptable no matter how you cut the figures.

Philip Mansbridge

UK Director, IFAW