Why should cockfighting be banned?
Breeding birds for aggressive traits, training them to fight,
strapping knives or ice-pick-like gaffs to their legs, and placing them in a pit to fight to injury or death is the very definition
of animal cruelty. If it is wrong to fight dogs for amusement, it is also wrong to fight roosters.
Do they really strap knives or gaffs to their legs?
Yes. The fight is defined by the style of weapon
strapped to the combatants' legs, such as a "short-knife" fight, a "long-knife" fight, or a "gaff fight." Cockfighters shave
down or cut off the natural spur on the birds' legs and then strap on the knives before the fight.
Why are the knives and gaffs used?
They enhance the bloodletting, making the fight more entertaining
for people who get a kick out of seeing animals hack one another to death. What's more, the weapons make the fights end more
quickly; many cockfighting fans would be bored if the fights went on for hours. This also allows pit owners to benefit from
greater numbers of roosters entered in cockfight events, which often last three days. On "derby" days, over one thousand roosters
are killed or maimed at a single location.
Has any other state passed an initiative to ban cockfighting?
Yes, the citizens of Arizona and Missouri
- after seeing that state legislators refused to ban cockfights - gathered signatures to place measures on their statewide
ballots and then overwhelmingly approved the bans. The vast majority of citizens - urban and rural, Democrat and Republican,
white and black - voted in favor of the cockfighting bans.
Is animal fighting a felony in any other state?
It is a felony to fight dogs in 45 states, and it
is a felony to fight roosters in 26 states. Many of the remaining states are now considering legislation to upgrade penalties
for animal fighting.
Isn't a felony a pretty stiff penalty?
Yes, it is a tough penalty, but a necessary one to combat
this indefensible conduct. Misdemeanor penalties that result in a small fine provide no meaningful deterrent to cockfighters,
who simply consider the fines that result from misdemeanor convictions to be a cost of doing business. Individuals can avoid
felony penalties by not fighting the birds - it's that simple.
Is it a felony to be a spectator at a cockfight?
Attending a cockfight is a Misedemeanor. The differential
penalties for fighting the birds and watching the fights reflects the thinking that attending the fights is wrong, but not
as serious an offense as conducting or facilitating the fights themselves.
Is it a felony to fight dogs?
Yes it is, and it helps deter dogfighting. What's more, the law banning
dogfighting has a major forfeiture provision, allowing the confiscation of property used in the commission of a dogfighting
Isn't cockfighting natural?
The wild birds related to today's modern gamecock did not fight to the
death in their natural environments. Males sometimes engage in fights to determine their place in the social order, called
a pecking order. Rarely if ever do the encounters between roosters end in injury or death. Of course, these birds simply have
their natural spurs as a weapons, not sharpened knives or gaffs. Nor are the wild birds dosed with stimulants to heighten
their aggression. In natural territorial battles, the vanquished rooster is allowed to leave or submit to the authority of
the stronger bird. The "handlers" at cockfights force their birds to fight to the death or major injury.
Are birds really drugged for fights?
Cockfighters' journals - such as The Gamecock, The Feather
Warrior, and Grit & Steel -- are full of ads for stimulants, hormones, and blood-clotting drugs. Strychnine is one of
the most popular stimulants. It and other drugs give birds a "boost" despite multiple puncture wounds or knife wounds.
Is cockfighting a big industry?
There are thousands of birds killed at cockfights, but it's hardly
a significant source of economic activity. Money changes hands in bets on birds, but that simply transfers money between individuals. No
state gets no share of the dollars illegally wagered at cockfights.
Are children allowed to attend cockfights?
Each pit makes its own rules, but it is very common to
have children attend cockfights. At some pits, children under 12 pay no admission fee. Thus, they are exposed to blatant animal
cruelty, gambling, and other inappropriate conduct that occurs at cockfights. There is a strong link established between acts
of cruelty to animals and violence to people, and it is very dangerous for children to see that adults sanction this sort
of cruelty and consider it acceptable. One newspaper documented children actively betting substantial sums of money out in
the open at a cockfight.
Is cockfighting legal anywhere else?
Cockfighting is illegal in 47 states; most states banned cockfighting
in the 19th century. It is legal only in Louisiana, certain counties in New Mexico, and in Oklahoma. Cockfighting had been
illegal in Oklahoma until 1963, when a state judge declared that chickens were not covered under the anti-animal fighting
statute that had been adopted around the time of statehood.
What does the veterinary community have to say about cockfights?
The American Veterinary Medical
Association strongly opposes cockfighting and supports laws to make cockfighting a felony.
Where in are the cockfights? A Focus on Oklahoma
Cockfighters admit to 42 legal pits throughout
the state, mainly on the borders to that cockfighters from other states can travel and fight their birds. Some of the pits
are in Arnett, Calvin, Kellyville, Kingston, Muldrow, Sallisaw, Thackerville, and Wapanucka.
Is there illegal gambling at cockfights?
Yes, gambling is commonplace at cockfights, even though
many cockfighting pits place "no gambling" signs in the pits and seating areas. Without gambling, there would hardly be a
reason to hold cockfights.
Is Cockfighting a sporting event in Oklahoma?
If cockfighting is such a popular sport in Oklahoma, why is it that you never read about
the results on the sports pages?
Oklahoma is one of only four states where those who place animals in a pit to fight to the death for amusement
and wagering can do so legally. And Oklahoma is one of just seven states where keeping and training animals for the purpose
of fighting is also perfectly legal.
Anyone who has witnessed a cockfight can attest to the sadistic cruelty of these events. These animals are
bred to maximize aggression. The fighting chickens are additionally fitted with razor-sharp knives, making fights even bloodier.
Broken bones, gouged eyes, mauled faces and other grievous wounds are all typical, as is the blood splattered
everywhere. Even the winners often die from their injuries.
Congress is expected to act soon to bar the interstate shipping of birds for fighting. It already is illegal
to ship dogs across state lines for fighting. Oklahoma should act as well to join the overwhelming majority of other states with strong laws against animal fighting. Cockfighting is not a sport. It's brutal, bloody,
Top Ten Reasons To Ban Cockfighting
10. Birds are armed with razor-sharp blades.
9. It is American Veterinary Medical Association position that cockfighting is cruel.
8. When the birds stop fighting, they’re held in each other’s face until angry again.
7. Stabbings, shootings, rapes, and drug dealing have all happened at cockfights.
6. 47 states have banned cockfighting (30 did so in the 1800s).
5. Children are routinely taken to cockfights in Oklahoma.
4. Illegal gambling is commonplace at cockfights.
3. Law Enforcement has found cockfights a good place to look for wanted criminals.
2. No state's image should appear as a haven for animal abusers.
1. Arming drugged animals so they’ll kill each other is wrong – dead wrong!
THE ANIMAL FIGHTING PROHIBITION ENFORCEMENT ACT
Dogfighting and cockfighting are inhumane and barbaric activities. In a typical fight, two animals
bred and trained for fighting are drugged to heighten their aggression and forced to keep fighting even after injuries such
as pierced lungs and gouged eyes - all for the amusement and illegal wagering of handlers and spectators. Dogfighting and
cockfighting are also associated with other criminal conduct, such as drug traffic, illegal firearms use, and violence toward
people. Children are often present at these spectacles.
Felony penalties are needed. U.S. Attorneys are reluctant to pursue animal fighting cases with
a misdemeanor penalty. Since Section 26 was enacted in 1976, federal authorities have pursued fewer than a half dozen animal
fighting cases, although USDA has received innumerable tips from informants and requests to assist with state and local prosecutions.
The House and Senate already passed felony penalties for animal fighting. In 2002, both chambers
overwhelmingly approved identically-worded provisions authorizing up to two years of jail time for animal fighting as part
of their respective Farm bills. While these identical provisions should have been included in the final bill, the increase
in jail time to two years was dropped in conference.
S. 736 & H.R. 1532 bring federal law in line with state
laws. When the federal animal fighting law was enacted in 1976, no states made animal fighting a felony. Today, dogfighting
is a felony in 47 states, and cockfighting is a felony in 30 states. The number of states making animal cruelty a felony has
risen from just 4 states in 1976 to 41 states today. State laws commonly authorize jail time of 3 to 5 years or more for animal
Other recent federal animal protection laws have felony penalties. In 1999, Congress authorized
imprisonment of up to 5 years for interstate commerce in videos depicting animal cruelty (P.L. 106-152), and mandatory jail
time of up to 10 years for willfully harming or killing a federal police dog or horse (P.L. 106-254).
no reason to allow interstate and foreign commerce in sharp implements designed exclusively for cockfights, when Congress
has prohibited such commerce in birds for fighting. Razor-sharp knives known as "slashers" and ice pick-like gaffs
are attached to the legs of birds to make cockfights more violent. These weapons, used only in cockfights, are sold through
cockfighting magazines and through the Internet.
The animal fighting industry continues to thrive across the
U.S. All 50 states ban dogfighting, 48 states ban cockfighting, and there has been a dramatic increase in the number
of animal fighting raids by state and local authorities. Yet numerous nationally circulated animal fighting magazines still
promote these cruel practices and advertise fighting animals and the accoutrements of animal fighting. There are also several
active websites for animal fighting enthusiasts, and paid lobbyists advocating animal fighters' interests.
Cockfighters have spread Exotic Newcastle Disease (END) and pose a continuing threat to farmers.
In September 2002, END was identified in southern California. It is now well-documented that cockfighting played a major role
in the spread of this lethal disease affecting birds. Since that time, state and federal authorities have spent more than
$200 million on containment and compensation. The disease spread to large-scale egg farms in California as well as Arizona,
Nevada, New Mexico, and Texas. According to government authorities, interstate and international transport of fighting birds
posed the greatest risk of transmission, since cockfighters move their birds around so much and participants from as many
as a dozen states may gather at illegal fighting derbies. Cockfighters are costing taxpayers tens of millions of dollars.
When Cockfighting Was First Banned In The United