Fox pens are horrifying tools of animal abuse and it is shameful that they continue to be allowed to function in the Commonwealth of Virginia. In Virginia, foxes are trapped in the wild all over our state and thrown into electrified fenced enclosures for dogs to chase them down and frequently maul and kill them. In staged competitions, hundreds of dogs may be judged on how they aggressively pursue the outnumbered, captive foxes, all for a trophy and cash prizes. All the terrified and exhausted fox gets if he or she survives the competition is the chance to live until the next such horrendous occasion. We have urged both the Virginia General Assembly and the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (which licenses, regulates and inspects fox pens) to end this blood “sport,” which is not a tradition in Virginia since it only began in the 1980’s. How can one even think of using the word “sport” when one of the participants is grossly outnumbered and has no means of escape?
Currently, the Board of Directors of the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries is considering changes to the Virginia fox pen regulations in response to the public outcry over their abuses. View the proposed regulations here. These proposed regulations are weak and unenforceable, and they will most likely do nothing to reduce the number of foxes injured and ripped apart by dogs in pens. In addition, the Board heard a great deal of expert testimony about the fact that the fox pens constitute a great threat to the massive spread of rabies in Virginia. The Department’s own staff recommended including a new regulation to address the rabies issue but the Board itself struck the proposed regulation down. Virginia citizens need to tell the Board that the time is now to rid the state of its last legal blood sport and stop fox penning.
The Board has asked for public comments on these proposed regulations by May 30. Please send a quick note using the link below to The Virginia Board of Game and Inland Fisheries asking them to prohibit fox pens and to protect us from the spread of rabies. The animals need your voice! There will be no positive change for these animals unless the Board hears from you that you want both the animals and the people of Virginia protected. If they do not hear from the people like you who love animals, then they will believe that no one cares about these precious animals and their fate in these fox pens.
Here are some topics that you could comment on in your message to the Board if you wish:
- Pens are fenced enclosures where dogs are released to chase down captive foxes, often in competitions. No matter the size of the enclosure, the dogs often catch and kill the foxes. In just five years, Virginia operators reported to have taken more than 6,000 foxes from the wild for this cruel enterprise.
- We have it in law that wildlife cannot be possessed, bought and sold, yet these fox pen operators take foxes by the thousand for their private amusement and financial gain.
- These pens have zero wildlife management value and are a threat to public and wildlife health. It's shameful our state agency is spending resources attempting to manage this fenced game. There is no question (and the experts have confirmed) that fox pens constitute a Russian roulette for the spread of rabies because foxes are a vector species for rabies and they are being transported by unvaccinated people and being attacked by many unvaccinated dogs.
- These pens go against our traditions of fair chase and our morals, and no ethical hunter would have anything to do with them. Nor would any real mounted fox hunter. This activity has nothing to do with the tradition of mounted fox hunting.
Send your comments to the following email address: [email protected]. You must include full personal identifying information for your comment to be considered. Many thanks from me and from the innocent animals whose lives are at stake.
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.