Archived Story

Ivor fox pen owner opposes bill outlawing them

Published 9:21am Friday, January 27, 2012

IVOR—Robbie Felts’ hobby could go by the wayside if a proposed bill outlawing fox pens passes in the Virginia General Assembly.

Robbie Felts of Ivor stands behind a fox escape on his 175-acre fenced-in area he uses for training hunting dogs. -- Dale Liesch | Tidewater News

The Ivor man spends his spare time training his hunting dogs inside a 175-acre, fenced-in area, using foxes to lure the dogs.

“It’s just like a man who plays golf and spends his day in the country club,” said Felts, vice president of R.M. Felts Packing Co. “I like to spend my day listening to my dogs. It’s a hobby.”

Sen. David Marsden, D-Burke, has introduced a bill to outlaw fox pens. The bill will go before subcommittees in the House and Senate next week. Marsden noted that 3,600 foxes have died in 41 pens over the last three years.

Felts said he has never seen a dog catch a fox, adding that escapes are available about every 10 acres. The law requires they be available every 20 acres.

“You feed these foxes and train them where the boxes are,” Felts said. “The foxes know where the boxes are.”

Felts, who built the pen in 2004, said fox pens are the best way to train hunting dogs because they need the scent of the animals to train, and running dogs outside of an enclosure is not permitted.

“You’ve got to have a place to exercise your dogs,” Felts said. “If it’s against the law to run them on the outside, then what are you going to do?”

If the bill passes, Felts believes complaints about dogs on private property and vehicle accidents involving dogs will increase because people will use private property to train their dogs.

A member of the Ivor Community Hunt Club, Felts built the pen to train his dogs for competition hunting. He also uses it for recreation with his 15 hunting dogs and to train dogs belonging to family and friends.

  • SlimPickens

    SB 202 was “tabled for further study” by Rep. Marsden (the patron of this bill) due to the fact had it come to a vote it would have been soundly defeated. Therefore…HB695 and SB202, both which sought to close foxpens in Va are DEAD. HB695 may come up next year after VaDGIF does their idea of a study to ensure “fair chase” is indeed provided inside the wire of the foxpens. The State already regulates these facilities and regularly inspects them. HB465 was the bill that was going to allow Sunday hunting,this was soundly defeated last week but expect to see it or another version just like this next year. Please understand, the dog based hunters are NOT behind this Sunday Hunting deal….we believe the non hunting public deserves a day off.

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  • DryRain

    Not a lot of difference between this and what Micheal Vick was doing is it?

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    • SlimPickens

      There is no comparison between dog fighting and using a foxhound training facility. I suspect unless you are trying to stir the pot you have not read the article or the comments. Most people take the time to educate themselves before forming their opinion. Others form uneducated opinions and wind up looking like an idiot.

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  • FromHere

    Yes, what is the big deal with all this hunting? Don’t we have bigger fish to fry??? And, by the way, a coyote is classified as a varmint or nuisance critter. You can kill them anytime. Wait til one of them grabs your little dog and see how humane that is.

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    • gs

      Several dog collars have been track back to coyote dens, with no dog to be found.

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  • SlimPickens

    There are State regulations that govern these pens that ensure the game has a way to escape. Foxes are known to carry rabies and are considered “vermin”. These pen owners vaccinate the game in their pens against rabies, distemper/parvo and feed them a balanced diet, better than what they would usually eat in the wild. The fox is an investment for the pen owner (no fox, nothing for the foxhounds to run) so why would they not do everything the state mandates and more in order to protect their investment? This is another classic example of some worthless politician patroning a bill for special interest groups instead of spending all this time trying to get a bill pushed thru for their constituients. You think The “Honerable”(?) Mr. Marsden is doing this for free? I bet he is getting a nice contribution to his re-election fund $$$. These people have no clue other than what special interest tells them. There are 40 liscensed fox pens in the Commonwealth that will be forced to close if this bill passes. That’s 40 more small businesses gone from Va.’s economy, more lost jobs, in the name of what??

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  • Dwight

    What is the problem?…. There are other things that should be addressed and needs attention than something as petty as a fox pen… I grew up in SoCo and hunting is just a way of life. And correct me if I’m wrong, but in the fox pens, the foxes have a way to get out.?.

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  • wiskeymike

    “It’s a serious time and our state government needs to get to work creating jobs and growing Virginia’s economy. Fairfax residents need traffic relief and help protecting our children’s education and our quality of life.” — Dave Marsden

    Mr. Marsden is a northern Va city boy who has no outdoor hobbies.

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  • simplifyingit

    A member of the Ivor Community Hunt Club, Felts built the pen to train his dogs for competition hunting.

    Since when did hunting become a competition? it is supposed to be a sport where “gentlemen” enjoy the fruits of hard work to feed their families. Not one of these men have ever eaten fox meat!! They only breed “winners” together and sell the pups for outrageous prices to people who also hope to “cash in” on the selling of the fastest hound in the pen. It has nothing to do with how smart the dog is about “sniffing” out a deer and staying on his track until he is “taken” to feed a family, chasing a rabbit back to his “jump spot” so the hunter can serve him for dinner, or any other hunting you mention. Its about the almighty $!!!

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  • cowboy

    friends do you agree with spot lighting foxes, cats,etc.and killing them with a rifle, I don:t but our game department does.So no fox pens where he has a chance, more killing. but we sit here and forget about our men and women who are dieing so we can be free.so lets push our government to work for them and our money problems, and let a country boy listen to old blue and june chase that old bushy tail.

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    • gs

      Yes I agree with spot lighting fox and shooting them with a rifle. This keeps the fox population in check so the Wild Turkey and Bobwhite Quail can survive. We are hunting tonight….see ya!

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  • erw2997

    Is it just me or does bobsNine4 have a negative comment for every post?!

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    • bobs94

      Comments aren’t “negative” just because they differ from your beliefs and views.

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    • simplifyingit

      its just you!!!! glad you ask…..:-)

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  • bobs94

    Micheal Vick was just doing his hobby also.

    I’m not a transplant. Lived in SoCo my entire 35 years. I’ve been to one field trial. Saw a coyote get mauled by a half dozen or more hounds. What’s the difference?

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  • cowboy

    JUST ANOTHER BUNCH OF TRANSPLANTS [PEOPLE MOVING INTO OUR HOME STATE] WISHING TO CHANGE OUR HERITAGE AND DO AWAY WITH OUR SPORT.NO BETTER SOUND THAN A GOOD FOX RACE.AND FOXES CLIMB TREES TO ESCAPE ALSO,HE IS NO DUMMY.

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    • gs

      I suppose you are a full blooded Native American Indian. Remember the Mayflower.

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      • DryRain

        @ GS – I am a Native American.
        @ FromHere – Does the Fox know there are “escape hatches”?

        That thing they call and escape hatch is a joke, it is very cruel to the fox. The fox seldom ever makes it to that box. Those boxes are also moved during certain hunts; notice the grass growing under that one in the picture? It is there just for show.

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  • FromHere

    Most people against fox pens apparently don’t know that there are “escape hatches” for the foxes. Exercising dogs all year is a nuisance to people who don’t hunt. And, I know, it’s against the law but it hasn’t stopped anybody yet. Robbie, I’ve already contacted my representative to request that fox pens be allowed.

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