The Virginia General Assembly passed a bill during the 2014 legislative session that provides some much needed protection to the thousands of defenseless foxes placed in fox pens where they are subjected to a life of constant stresses and, frequently, a painful and miserable death. These pens are inherently cruel and pose a serious risk to both dogs and people in communities across the Commonwealth. This bill passed in 2014 essentially phases out fox pens by prohibiting new pens from being licensed by the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (“DGIF”) and ending the existence of the current ones in 40 years. That law also set a collective cap of 900 on the number of foxes that may be added to Virginia pens annually.
The DGIF is the Virginia regulatory body charged with regulating fox pens and with promulgating regulations to put the law adopted by the General Assembly in 2014 into effect. It has proposed new regulations to supposedly enforce the new law but they are weak and not susceptible of realistic enforcement, and they will most likely do nothing to reduce the number of foxes harmed by dogs in pens. Most importantly, there needs to be an accurate and effective system to record each fox added to a Virginia pen by individual tagging so that the maximum number is truly enforced. The public comment period on the proposed regulations is open until August 8 and we hope you will lend your voice to let the DGIF know that the pending regulations simply aren’t sufficient. You can submit your comment by visiting the DGIF website here. For your convenience, we’ve included a suggestion below for use in your comment submission to the DGIF requesting strengthened regulations (but you should put it in your own words):
I urge you to require the tagging of individual foxes and continue to allow broad authority by the VDGIF to revoke non-compliant operators so that the maximum cap can be adequately enforced. The new proposed regulations as they stand now are simply not enough to ensure that extra animals cannot be smuggled in.
Not only are fox pens inherently cruel, but they fuel a constant intra-state demand for the live trade of a high rabies vector species, posing a deadly disease risk to dogs and our communities. It is therefore essential that regulations surrounding fox pens and the number of animals being stocked are strictly enforced. Rather than simply requiring paper tags for foxes, please require that individual animals be tagged once stocked in pens. It is also critical that the existing language be kept on the revocation of permits, and that management continues to have the ability to revoke permits based upon recordkeeping failures.
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 both your first and last name to be used as your screen name.