Animal Protection Groups Applaud Introduction of Legislation to Stop New Fox Pen Enclosures in Virginia

The Humane Society of the United States and The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals® applaud Sen. David Marsden, D-Burke, for introducing legislation to end staged competitions within fox pens and place a moratorium on new enclosures. SB 1280 aims to crack down on this cruel practice where dogs are released in competitions that take place within the fenced areas to chase down captive foxes, often killing them.

“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. “Wildlife is to be enjoyed by all Virginians, not to be destroyed for the pleasure of a few. When a fox goes into a pen, he never comes out.”

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. 

“Virginia’s longstanding history of responsible wildlife management has been tarnished by the persistence of fox penning,” said Laura Donahue, Virginia state director for The HSUS. “There is no reason to throw thousands of foxes in fenced enclosures to be chased down by dogs in a cruel staged game.”

“Pitting defenseless dogs against captive wildlife fighting for their lives is unsporting and unethical,” said Ann Church, vice president of state affairs for the ASPCA. “Ending fox penning is an effort that animal advocates, ethical hunters and communities surrounding these pens all agree on.”

SB 1280 will be top priority during the annual Humane Lobby Day on Wednesday, Jan. 23.  Sponsored by The HSUS and the ASPCA, this event offers animal advocates the opportunity to come together and meet with lawmakers to voice their support for animal welfare legislation. More information is available at



  • 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 for violating permit requirements. 
  • Pens are historically responsible for the spread of some strains of rabies and other wildlife diseases. 

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