Opinion Your Views — 27 June 2013
Putting an end to fox pens

To the editor:

As a resident of Alexandria who is extremely concerned about animal welfare, I felt compelled to speak out in hopes of gaining more public attention for the issue of fox penning. Recently the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries passed regulations in regard to fox penning that are shameful at best.

According to its website, the department’s mission is to “provide opportunities for all to enjoy wildlife” and to “foster an awareness of and appreciation for Virginia’s fish and wildlife.” In the case of fox penning, it has failed miserably in its mission. The agency was handed an opportunity to curb wildlife suffering and cruelty in fox pens, but the department opted not to take advantage of it.

There is no chance of a fair chase between captive wild foxes and the dogs that are used in this activity. There are so many dogs within a fox pen that there is almost no chance of a fox surviving. Clearly the safety of animals and compassion for wildlife were not involved in the agency’s latest decisions, and neither were the promises that are made in its mission statement.

Much like dog fighting, fox penning is a blood sport and has no place in the Commonwealth of Virginia. It is time for the Virginia General Assembly to step up and press officials about this issue so that the practice of fox penning can be phased out entirely.

On behalf of concerned animal advocates like myself, and on behalf of Virginia’s foxes, I thank you for your attention to this issue.

- Jennifer Pinto
Alexandria

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(4) Readers Comments

  1. Stop the cruelty!

  2. I had no idea this was going on. It’s a little sickening. It seems like fox penning would be against animal cruelty laws. I think many people might not realize the seriousness of this issue. Animal cruelty degrades people. A vicious blood sport like fox penning, where people watch an animal be killed by other animals, lowers people’s empathy and makes them more prone to violence. If children are exposed to this, it can cause them even more damage than adults. If we don’t want a violent society, then we can’t celebrate brutality – even if it’s only towards wild animals. There is Nothing humane about fox penning.

  3. I actually just wrote the US Fish and Wildlife Office to share my outrage. it wasn’t my best letter – but I urge anyone who is disturbed by this brutal practice to contact them. If they don’t hear from people, they wwon’t do anything about it. Their web address, and my letter is below:

    http://www.fws.gov/duspit/contactus.htm

    I recently came across an OpEd in the Alexandria Times regarding fox penning. I am extremely distressed by the article and the news that this happens in VA. You can read the opinion piece here – http://alextimes.com/2013/06/putting-an-end-to-fox-pens/

    I had no idea this was going on. It’s a little sickening. It seems like fox penning would be against animal cruelty laws. I can’t believe this is allowed to go on in VA – or anywhere. I expect that once people become aware of this, there will be negative repercussions for your department.

    Those who think that fox penning is a good idea might not realize the seriousness of this issue. Research shows that animal cruelty degrades people and causes violence (Arluke, et al., 1999). A vicious blood sport like fox penning, where people watch an animal be killed by other animals, lowers people’s empathy and makes them more prone to violence (Perez & Heide, 2004). If children are exposed to this, it can cause them even more damage than adults (Elsevier, 2008). If we don’t want a violent society – with the corresponding increase in bullying, domestic violence, murder, and other anti-social behaviors, then we can’t celebrate brutality – even if it’s only towards wild animals. There is Nothing humane about fox penning.

    Your office needs to respond to this practice and put an end to it immediately. I can’t imagine that your office will appreciate the public backlash that will come by condoning fox penning and other forms of animal cruelty. It is terrible that a government office would endanger people by exposing them to violent animal cruelty – especially when there is significant peer reviewed research that shows the psychological damage it does to people.

    I expect a swift response to my email. I expect an end to the practice of fox penning in VA – and wherever else it is occurring.

  4. How absolutely appalling and obscene behavior from homo sapiens that are charged with protecting our wildlife!!!

    This is nothing but legalized dog fighting essentially. These people call themselves Christians??? This evil and vile!!!

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