TALLAHASSEE, FL (February 17, 2010) — On Wednesday, The Humane Society of the United States welcomed a decision by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to crack down on inhumane fox and coyote pens in the state.
In pens, foxes and coyotes are captured from the wild, often shipped long distances and then released inside enclosures to literally run for their lives. Dogs are judged on their pursuit of the captive wildlife. The dogs often injure or kill the wild animals, leading to a constant demand to restock with more wildlife.
Thanks to the combined efforts of Arthur E. Benjamin, founder of American Dog Rescue, and many others, the Commission voted to continue its prohibition on fox and coyote pens at least until its June meeting, when it will consider a draft rule package to govern the facilities.
Benjamin was told two days before the vote that it would go the other way. He mustered support throughout the state and nation to contact the 7 Commissioners to vote against, or defer action on licensing. His concerted last-ditch effort included a massive email blast and personal visits with legislators on the hill in Tallahassee the day prior to the vote.
This decision follows a 2009 investigation by FWC law enforcement that discovered illegal purchases of wildlife to stock enclosures and brought the arrest of a dozen people. Neighbors of a pen in Holt, Fla. also spent a year documenting coyotes attacked by dogs against the pen’s fence.
In September 2009, the agency issued a temporary moratorium on new pens until the conclusion of its investigation and action by the commissioners.
“We thank Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Chairman Rodney Barreto and the commissioners for their leadership on fox and coyote penning,” said Jennifer Hobgood, Florida state director for The HSUS. “Controlling these facilities has long proved next to impossible — escape isn’t the point of the game. We urge the commission to enact a complete ban when it revisits the issue in June.”
Subsequently to the success in Florida, Mr. Benjamin, last week, in speaking with 300 students at their graduation from an ATI College in North Richland Hills, Texas, as CEO of ATI’s 24 schools & colleges, told the graduates: “Efforts driven by passion are the root of much happiness and satisfaction in our lives. Changing the world in some small way, while we are here, is our privilege. Doing things we declare to have a mighty purpose, make life worth living for us while improving it for others”. Benjamin went on to use examples from the outcomes of animal welfare projects like the one above to demonstrate this thesis to the applause and outright exuberance of the crowd of 2000 attending the ceremony.
American Dog Rescue (www.americandogrescue.org) is a tax-exempt, non-profit 501(c)3 organization committed to finding a home for every adoptable dog in the United States. In instances of international tragedy, its support transcends national borders. American Dog Rescue is committed to placing healthy dogs in permanent homes that are the right fit for the animal and its family. Donations can be made by visiting www.americandogrescue.org/donate or calling 801-944-3023 .
The Humane Society of the United States is the nation’s largest animal protection organization—backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education, and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty—on the web at www.humanesociety.org.