Shortly after the Virginia Senate passed Senate Bill 1280 on Tuesday, February 5 prohibiting staged competitions in fox pens, we posted that news on our Facebook page to let our friends and supporters know that this great step forward for the well being of animals had occurred. Almost immediately, the fox penners began to attempt to highjack our page with their increasingly nasty and aggressive comments. It was a long evening of responding to the few who were reasonably polite, though misleading, and taking down those that were rude and nasty. A few notes I will make related to that effort:
- Ad hominem attacks have no place in any rational discussion of a political issue (or any issue, for that matter). These fox penners and other folks who do not support the cause of animal welfare need to stop attacking me personally and stop attacking others who are working to achieve the passage of this bill and other measures to protect animals. When they engage in these sorts of cruel and highly personal attacks, I will promise that we will take it down every time.
- Has any of us ever changed his or her mind because someone started yelling at us online? Of course not.
- These folks need to stop saying that we are uneducated. It is rude and it serves nothing to pretend that the honestly held opinions of someone else are just the product of their lack of education or their stupidity. I am constantly amazed that none of them ever addresses the profound concerns that fox pens raise about the spread of rabies but I do not say that they are uneducated about these issues. I assume that they know about them and simply have no response to them.
- We are truly shocked by their repeated reliance in various forums on the argument that fox pens should continue to exist because otherwise the fox penners will stop feeding and caring for their dogs and will simply desert them in the woods and then they will have to be cared for by humane organizations. Really, their best argument is that we should allow fox pens to continue because otherwise the participants will abuse, neglect and abandon their dogs in violation of state law and ethical principles and that will place an even greater burden on us? Enough said about that.
- The fox penners who suggest that they participate in competitions because those competitions raise money for charitable endeavors are perhaps the most disingenuous of all. If their chief aim is to raise donations for non-profit agencies, then there are a host of other activities that don't involve harming wildlife in which they could engage themselves.
- The question has been posed by at least one of the penning advocates asking why we are satisfied with this bill since it only prohibits staged competitions and does not abolish or place a moratorium on fox pens entirely. Staged competitions are occasions when hundreds of hounds are released into fox pens at the same time and, therefore, they result in animal fights, abuse and killing in the greatest quantities. They also provide a substantial portion of the revenue of fox pens and we believe that the wildlife of Virginia should belong to and be able to be enjoyed by all of the citizens of Virginia. One of the most outrageous aspects of fox penning is that penners are being allowed to privatize and commercialize the wildlife of Virginia for their personal economic gain. There is no question that we would prefer to see fox pens be banned or at least a moratorium be instituted on the further issuance of licenses for them. But at this moment, the accomplishment of this step appears to be possible and it is a meaningful improvement for the animals and the people of our state.
- The folks would be well reminded of Godwin’s Law. Anytime you use an analogy to Hitler, as Kirby Burch has done before the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries to describe those opposed to fox penning, or the Nazis or the Holocaust, you have lost the argument.
It is crucially important that every one of us who is horrified by the cruelties of fox penning, offended that penners are taking animals out of the wild for their private financial gain and worried about the enormous rabies threat that fox penning poses to people and animals, calls his or her Delegate as well as every member of the House Agriculture Committee and urge them to support and vote in favor of Senate Bill 1280.
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.