Reasons not to outlaw fox pens

Published 10:33 am Saturday, February 4, 2012

by Chris Sloan

There are two bills out that the Humane Society of the United States is pushing that would outlaw fox pens in Virginia.

Fox pens are training preserves for folks to run their foxhounds. The foxes have safe houses to get away from the dogs.

By law, there has to be a certain number of safe houses per acre. Most fox pens have more than the minimum because the owners pay good money for the foxes and the last thing they want is their customers’ dogs catching and killing the foxes. As hunters, we don’t want this either.

There are also feeders in fox pens that the foxes can get into, but the dogs can’t. The feeders have dog food, meat and other food for foxes.

Also, the foxes are given worm medicines and medicines to prevent mange. So the foxes are well taken care of.

Please don’t judge something until you see it firsthand or have gotten all the facts from both sides. I invited any delegate and senator or whoever to accompany me to a foxhound training preserve (fox pen) and see for yourself first hand.

Here are nine reasons not to ban fox pens:

* With ever-growing development, fox pens are a safe place to run our dogs so they are not hit by a car. We love our dogs; we want to keep them safe.

* We have control of our dogs. It’s fenced-in so we are not bothering landowners. Fox pens were built for this reason, and taking this away would make for worse relationships with the general public and hound hunters.

* We are in a down economy, where people are not spending money. Folks that run in the fox pen and field trials are spending a lot of money running their dogs in these facilities and this would be spending that would no longer take place. There is also money spent in local restaurants, stores and lodging not to mention a lot of people will not continue to have fox hounds if they can’t run in the fox pen. They will no longer buy dog food and supplies for the dogs, which cost dog owners thousands of dollars a year. The list could go on and on. Also people travel from out state to field trials and to run in these training preserves so it brings out-of-state spending to Virginia. All this is money is circulated back into the Virginia economy.

* All the fundraisers for good causes would no longer take place. Such as K9s for Cancer, hunts for local sheriff and fire departments, Special Olympics, etc. I know personally I have been involved with numerous benefit hunts for folks with hardships. One was for a young boy who had cancer and his family had no medical insurance. There are a lot of fundraising events that take place throughout Virginia. I put on a fundraiser hunt for a family whose house burnt down. They had no renters insurance and lost everything. We raised $2,300 for the family.

* I believe there are 40 some fox pens in Virginia. If fox pens were banned, you would be putting 40 small business owners out of business. Not to mention all the trappers you would put out of business.

* Fox pens have to be a minimum of 100 acres. There are a minimum number of safe houses per acre so the foxes can get away from the dogs. The point isn’t to catch and kill the fox, just to exercise and hear our dogs run. Rarely do the dogs catch a fox

* You have to have a hunting license to run dogs in the fox pens. If you outlaw fox pens, fewer people will buy hunting licenses. The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries is already struggling and this would hurt.

* It’s a family sport that many in Virginia love and have a passion for. Don’t take that away from us.

* This is just a stepping-stone to ban all hound hunting in Virginia. The state dog is the foxhound. This is something our forefathers brought to this country and to the great state of Virginia.

CHRIS SLOAN lives in Amelia and is president of the Amelia Chapter of the Virginia Hunting Dog Alliance. He has been raising beagles to run fox and deer since 2002. He can be reached at