Talk Back: Readers Release the Hounds

By on December 5, 2007 with 0 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

Last week, Fox 5 in Atlanta aired an exposé of fox pens. Reader responses rolled in, ranging from disgust for the practice to defense of it. Among the comments we received:

Thank you so much for addressing this issue. About a year ago, I read in the newspaper that my state (West Virginia) loosened regulations on fox penning to allow the industry to expand. There appeared to be no opposition at the time. There was also no previous discussion of the bill during its drafting stages so humane West Virginians could not contact their legislators. The fox penning industry, like other odious practices, seems to be expanding on the sly. Perhaps they know if people were aware of practices like fox penning they would be disgusted. —Peace

Evidently you have not seen what a pack of coyotes can do to a little house dog or little deer or your precious house cat. I have. Coyotes will take over if not trapped and these pens have been a great help in controlling them in some states. The fox hunter is the only sportsman who doesn’t want to kill his game. Only occasionally does it happen. Coyotes go on the hunt to kill almost every night. They have killed hounds the same way these hounds killed the one shown. Nature is not pretty sometimes. —Darrell Hurt

I never cease to be amazed at man’s cruelty to those that are weaker and have no way to defend themselves. To place a helpless animal in a situation where there is no hope of survival is cruel beyond belief. I used to liken cruel humans to animals, but I was very wrong, there is no similarity between the two. It seems that when you think you have heard it all something new comes to light. There is no difference in this and dogfighting. People are doing this as a form of "entertainment" and a way to make money. I can’t help but believe that God is in his heaven looking down on humans with a very sad expression. Thank goodness there are those that care and will do their best to stop these incredible acts of cruelty. Thank you for the opportunity to speak for those who certainly can’t speak for themselves. —Kathryn Thomson

Is there no end to the cruelty that we humans can invent to inflict upon others? What is wrong with us that one of us could not only think something like this up but that others would then actually enthusiastically jump on the bandwagon and use it as a means of entertainment? I’m just dumbfounded by it all. Whenever I think we’ve finally won a victory for non-human animals some other horrendous activity comes to light. I don’t know what to do with the frustration and anger and disgust anymore. —Dawn

I feel like your information re: fox pens is misleading. The goal of the pens is not for the dogs to catch the foxes—in fact, that is actually frowned upon. Owners of dogs that catch the foxes are fined and asked not to return. In modern day fox hunts, the foxes are rarely killed. The goal is to judge the dogs. Judges are stationed around the fox pens and record how long after the fox each dog crosses the path. At the end of the hunt—usually 2 or 3 hours—the dogs are gathered back up and the points are tallied. The benefit of holding fox hunts in a pen is that the dogs don’t get hit by cars or so lost in the woods that they can’t be found. The foxes that live in the pens are fed and cared for. Some pens may be mismanaged but, overall, the sport of fox hunting is no more cruel than sheep herding. It’s a modern celebration of a time-honored tradition of man and dog and a way to preserve what these animals were created to do. There are cruel dog sports out there: fighting, boar hunting, and others, but this just isn’t one of them. —Emily

I can’t for the life of me figure out why a civilized society like ours has to use animals to amuse and entertain each other. Many of these people who enjoy harassing and tormenting these poor creatures call themselves Christian and God-fearing. I am a Christian and I could never imagine that God would be pleased with such treatment of innocent beings. —Barbara

Readers also responded to the question of where fox pens fall on the scale of hunting abuses:

Fox pens, canned hunts, bear baiting, aerial gunning, and trapping are ALL forms of animal abuse. Any activity which causes pain and suffering to another (whether human or nonhuman) is unacceptable behavior. The ways humans have devised to hurt animals and their attempts at justifying their abusive behavior is sickening. Knowing The HSUS is fighting for animals helps me and others maintain our sanity. —Nicke

Wayne, I don’t know which is the worst among those choices. Too difficult to rank them. I would like to mention to all your readers that it would be great to get some more anti-cruelty messages posted to Mr. Travis’ blog. I did it yesterday after seeing that the majority of the entries on the blog were from fox pen supporters. It was a slight pain to have to register on the website to post a comment, but it was worth it. The fox pen supporters are REALLY fired up about Mr. Travis’ exposé. The blog trail keeps getting longer and longer with their hateful comments about how ludicrous his report is. Some classic defenses being thrown up by these fox pen supporters: the wild game are well cared for, it’s a tradition handed down through the generations, it keeps their kids out of trouble… because otherwise they’d all be on the streets selling drugs. Just ridiculous! Are these the choices? A kid is either going to be involved with senseless animal cruelty or else be doomed to drug trafficking? Ridiculous. Wayne, many thanks to you and your team for all the hard work you do. —Janet

I think they are all awful; it is hard to even find the words that describe how it makes me feel to read and learn about the horrible ways people treat animals. I don’t understand how anyone could find enjoyment in not only watching, but causing the suffering of any living creature. It’s so overwhelmingly sad and it makes me feel so helpless to know things like this are going on. I don’t understand why they aren’t illegal. —Dee

What is wrong with human beings? This is a canned hunt as far as I’m concerned, because it still involves human hunters. We can’t blame the dogs; they’re doing as their humans trained them to do. You know, it’s worse than a canned hunt because the humans involved are abusing two species—the canines and the foxes. —Sheryl


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