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January 31, 2013

Legislation to Crack Down on Fox Penning Advances to the Full Virginia Senate

The Humane Society of the United States applauds the Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Committee for advancing Senate Bill 1280, authored by Sen. David Marsden, D-Burke, to crack down on inhumane fox pens. Sen. Richard H. Stuart, R-Stafford, amended the measure to prohibit competitions between animals within enclosures and limit the number dogs released into pens. The legislation approved today by a bipartisan vote, will now head to the full Senate.  
 
A Virginia hunter, a resident living next door to a fox pen, a former trapper, a religious leader, wildlife care experts and animal welfare leaders all testified in support of this legislation.
 
“Making a competitive event out of tormenting wildlife behind fences with packs of dogs, sometimes numbering in the hundreds, is simply unacceptable,” said Sen. Marsden, “I am so pleased by today’s progress in curbing fox pens in the Commonwealth and thank Senator Stuart for his effort to limit this unfortunate practice.”
 
SB 1280 aims to crack down on this cruel practice. Dogs are released in competitions that take place within the fenced areas to chase down captive foxes, often killing them. The bill originally included a moratorium on new facilities, but did not limit the number of dogs released into existing facilities.
 
“Fox penning is truly Virginia’s last legal bloodsport,” said Laura Donahue, Virginia state director for The HSUS, “Today was a huge vote to stop the practice of releasing countless dogs on captive foxes for staged events. The Humane Society of the United States and our supporters thank Senators Stuart and Marsden for their tremendous leadership, and encourage the Senate to vote the measure through to the House of Delegates.”
 
Fox pens are fenced enclosures where dogs are released to chase wild-caught, stocked foxes. In just five years, more than 6,000 foxes were subjected to these unethical and inhumane events in Virginia.
 
“This vote is a meaningful step for the wellbeing of both the wildlife and the people of Virginia,” said Robin Starr, chief executive officer for the Richmond SPCA. “We are deeply grateful to Senators Marsden and Stuart and to The HSUS for their leadership on this important issue.”


More information is available at humanesociety.org/Virginia.
 
Facts:
•    Senators voting for the measure include Harry B. Blevins, R-Chesapeake, Adam P. Ebbin, D-Alexandria, David W. Marsden, D-Burke, A. Donald McEachin, D-Henrico, John C. Miller, D-Manassas, Ralph S. Northam, D-Norfolk, J. Chapman Petersen D-Fairfax, and Richard H. Stuart, R-Stafford.
•    Dogs often harm and kill the fenced wildlife, fueling a constant – and often illegal interstate – demand to stock enclosures with more 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 operating at the time for violating permit requirements.  
•    Pens are historically responsible for the spread of some strains of rabies and other wildlife diseases.  
 
 
Media Contacts: Kaitlin Sanderson: 301-721-6463; ksanderson@humanesociety.org

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