On October 15-17, the All Breed Lure Sport Association (ABSLA) held Barn Hunt training clinics in conjunction with the Cynosport games in Morgan Hill, CA. These clinics were then followed by licensed trials on October 18-19, judged by Laurits “Dix” Dixon and run by ABSLA.
The Barn Hunt Association LLC (BHA LLC) does not license or control training clinics, workshops, or seminars. The BHA LLC administers and controls licensed Fun Tests and Trials. On October 17, I began to hear disquieting stories about the way rats were treated at the training clinics. A significant number of witnesses felt the rats were treated during the training sessions in such a way that they could have been injured. This is an area of very great concern to me since proper and humane rat care is at the core of the sport of Barn Hunt.
Rats as a species are very intelligent, bold, and fearless. The BHA LLC has very strict rules about responsible rat care: how rats can be used, when they should be rested, and how the tubes must be handled. Full rules on our rat care provisions can be found at barnhunt.com. A huge majority of the rats used in Barn Hunt are family pets. They readily climb into their tubes and will interact with both people and dogs, seeming to enjoy this distraction in their day. A lot of our clubs acquire rats from rat rescue or save them from becoming snake food. Other clubs are donating to rat rescues. Overall Barn Hunt has been very positive for the welfare of domestic rats.
After a phone call to ABSLA I was not satisfied that rats were treated in accordance with Barn Hunt rules at [...]