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November 19, 2009

Florida Fox Penning

HSUS Statement on Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Fox Pen Investigation

The Humane Society of the United States

Jennifer Hobgood, Florida state director for The Humane Society of the United States, issued the following statement in response to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission arresting 12 people for illegal activity associated with fox pens:

"The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission should be commended for its investigation and raid of a cruel underground activity in which dogs are released on captive foxes and coyotes, often in staged competitions.

"We applaud FWC for taking action to investigate these pens, but the agency's job isn't done. Floridians have no tolerance for a bloody pastime that allows a pack of hounds to tear apart fenced-in foxes and coyotes. It's time for the Commission to prohibit these private fox areas all together. Time and again pen operators have thumbed their nose at the FWC's operating conditions, violating permit conditions consistently throughout the past decade despite more regulations and facility inspections.

"Even when enforced, regulations have proved no deterrent to dogs mauling and killing foxes and coyotes. Escape isn't the point of the game."

Background:

  • Earlier this year, neighbors to a fox pen in Holt witnessed dogs mauling coyotes against fence lines. FWC staff investigated the situation and stopped activity twice within the pen when it became clear that operators were not following basic direction dictated by the private fox area permit.  These neighbors have now formed a group, "Training not Torture."
  • Scored trials sometimes last for days with up to a few hundred dogs released inside the pen; the dogs are scored according to how they pursue the fenced-in animals. The size of the pen does not act as a barrier to the number of animals killed by dogs. In fact, the larger the pen, the higher density of foxes and coyotes, and the higher mortality of wildlife during a competition. 
  • Dogs killing the wildlife leads to the constant demand for fresh wildlife. Fox and coyote dealers pack the wild animals into a truck and often ship them hundreds of miles in cramped cages with no access to food or water or ability to move. When the animals reach their final destination they are released in an unfamiliar fenced territory and forced to run for their lives.
  • But beyond the cruelty of pens, these enclosures promote the spread of wildlife diseases in Florida, and are historically responsible for the outbreak of unique rabies strains and other canine diseases, as well as the spread of a parasite lethal to native wildlife and people.

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The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the web at humanesociety.org.

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