Zindel: Rural Americans not defined by animal cruelty

In a letter published in The Washington Post last week, Realtor and longtime Rappahannock County resident Butch Zindel objected to a fox-preserve proponent’s comments in an earlier Post story about Virginia’s decision to restrict and eventually ban fox-penning operations in the state.

In the April 10 Post report, Kirby Burch, vice chairman and lobbyist for the Virginia Hunting Dog Alliance, said the hunting and pen-operating community had little choice but to agree to the terms of the legislation — which restricts the number of foxes that can be penned at such hunting-dog training facilities to 900 a year (the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries estimates an average of 1,160 foxes were delivered to fox pens annual over the last five years) and completely bans the practice — by July 1, 2054.

“The attorney general and the governor made it very clear that they were going to close them down if they didn’t agree to their terms,” Burch said. “It’s not a compromise — it’s extortion . . . Hope springs eternal that over time, people may be educated enough to understand that it isn’t animal fighting and it isn’t inhumane, and that we might be able to keep [the foxhound preserves]. And I think that’s in the back of a lot of pen operators’ and hunters’ minds. But I realize that urban America doesn’t understand rural America.”

In his response, Zindel said he preferred to think of “rural Americans as family-oriented people who take care of themselves, help their neighbors, wave to drivers they pass on the road and appreciate what nature has to offer — including wild animals in their natural habitat, not penned up.”

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