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Virginia State Sen. Dave Marsden Receives 2012 Humane State Legislator Award

  • HSUS Va. State Director Laura Donahue presented Sen. Dave Marsden with The HSUS 2012 Humane Legislator Award.   Victoria Ross

The Humane Society of the United States, the nation’s largest animal protection organization, is pleased to announce that Virginia state Sen. Dave Marsden, D-Burke has been selected as Virginia’s Humane State Legislator for 2012. Each year, The HSUS recognizes select state lawmakers across the country who pursue path-breaking animal protection legislation and demonstrably advance reform in the policy-making arena.

“I am honored to receive The Humane Society of the United States Humane Legislator Award,” said Sen. Marsden. “I believe that people have a responsibility to protect wildlife against cruelty and maltreatment. I am proud to stand with HSUS in their efforts.”

The Humane Society of the United States awarded Sen. Marsden the Humane State Legislator Award for his legislation to prohibit fox pens throughout Virginia and his advocacy for regulatory progress on this issue. Sen. Marsden’s leadership was instrumental in a recent decision by the board overseeing the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries to unanimously vote to direct agency staff to further study the practice of fox penning. DGIF will include fox pens in their regulatory review cycle spring 2013 and further consider fox pen regulations. 

“Senator Marsden has worked tirelessly to end the egregiously cruel practice of fox penning and The Humane Society of the United States is enormously grateful for his extraordinary work,” said Laura Donahue, Virginia state director for the HSUS. “Wildlife and citizens of Virginia are so lucky to have Senator Marsden’s skills, compassion and tenacity representing them in the General Assembly.”

Nearly 100 constituents attended the ceremony to congratulate Sen. Marsden.


  • Fox pens are fenced enclosures where dogs are released to chase wild-caught, stocked foxes. Dogs often harm and kill the fenced wildlife, fueling a constant – and often illegal interstate – demand to stock enclosures with more foxes. In just three years, Virginia pens needed over 3,600 foxes to stock pens with replacement foxes.
  • In the fall of 2007, a multi-state sting of fox and coyote pens uncovered the interstate smuggling of wildlife for sale to these pens. Virginia officials temporarily shut down 31 of the Commonwealth’s 41 pens for violating permit requirements. 
  • Pens are historically responsible for the spread of some strains of rabies and other wildlife diseases. 

Media Note: Photos available from the award presentation. 

Media Contact: Kaitlin Sanderson: 301-721-6463; ksanderson@humanesociety.org

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