I recently wrote a Point/Counterpoint essay for the Roanoke Times on the topic of fox penning. While I discussed the serious ethical issues regarding the barbaric practice of fox penning, Kirby Burch, who describes himself as a founding member of the Virginia Hunting Dog Alliance, wrote for the other side of the debate. We both wrote essays that were published and then wrote rebuttal essays responding to the initial essay of the other writer. Mr. Burch, who recently stood up at a Board meeting of the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and likened those of us who oppose fox penning to Adolf Hitler and our efforts to the Holocaust (I am truly not making this up), began his rebuttal essay by saying that Robin Starr “frequently appears before the General Assembly to oppose all hunting activities.”
In the time-honored words of Pat Moynihan, Mr. Burch is welcome to his own opinions but not to his own facts. What he said about me is simply not true. I have never appeared before the General Assembly opposing any form of hunting other than fox penning which cannot reasonably be described as hunting. Fox penning is a form of animal fighting. But, all that is beside the point for this moment. If Mr. Burch is going to say in a publication that I frequently appear before the General Assembly to oppose all hunting activities, he needs to have some examples of my speaking before the General Assembly to oppose some form of hunting, besides fox penning, to back that up. He was asked to do so by the Roanoke Times and was unable to produce anything that would support his statement in his essay.
While I myself am unable to understand why hunting holds any allure to people, the Richmond SPCA does not oppose ethical forms of hunting and has never sought to prevent any form of traditional ethical hunting from occurring. We certainly oppose the use of inhumane traps, poaching and cruel forms of hunting such as bear baiting, and we object to any form of abuse or mistreatment of hunting dogs. But then so does every ethical hunter.
It does not become the reputations of fox penners to have their standard bearer spout untruths about the people who oppose their activities. We all know that his intent in saying this untruth about me was to make me appear to be some crazy radical whose argument should be ignored. That sort of approach demeans the level of discourse, brings shame on the fox penners and only serves to further substantiate the view that they are people whose ethics are in short supply. It should make ethical hunters want to get as far away from them as possible.
Robin Robertson Starr is the chief executive officer of the Richmond SPCA. To read her biography or that of our other bloggers, please click here. Before posting a comment, please review our comment guidelines. Please note that our comment policy requires a first and last name to be used as your screen name.