End Cockfighting Statement for Press

Animal Wellness Action and Animal Wellness Foundation Applaud Federal Action Against Individual Involved in Barbaric, Illegal Cockfighting Activities in Kern County

New Legislation to be Introduced Today in Congress to Crack Down on Animal Fighting

Washington, D.C. — Today, Animal Wellness Action and Animal Wellness Foundation applauded the federal government for taking action against an illegal cockfighting operating and meting out an 18-month prison sentence given to a citizen of Mexico residing in Bakersfield, Calif. Animal fighting crimes are federal felonies, and federal government should enforce this anti-cruelty law without fear or favor.

The U.S. Department of Justice said in a news release that Horacio Ortega-Martinez, 36, was sentenced for possessing 250 roosters each fitted with razor-sharp steel blades on their legs, to use them in the fighting rings, and that the forfeiture of these roosters and 49 breeding hens was ordered. This case was built on Homeland Security investigations with the help of other agencies and based on wiretaps of phone conversations about buying, selling, and fighting roosters with Jorge Calderon-Campos, who has been separately charged with alleged drug trafficking offenses and alleged animal fighting crimes in two separate indictments.

Animal Wellness Action also announced that new bipartisan federal legislation, the Fighting Inhumane Gambling and High-Risk Trafficking (FIGHT) Act, would be introduced in Congress today to enable more robust enforcement of animal-fighting crimes.

Wayne Pacelle, president of Animal Wellness Action, issued the following statement:

“Cockfighting is corrosive to our society, delivering cruelty, contagious diseases, narcotics trafficking, money laundering, and other menaces to communities. The underground world of cockfighting should be pulled up from the root in Kern County. We applaud the interagency efforts to bring perpetrators to justice and end their mayhem.

Resources: Backgrounder on the FIGHT Act. A 62-page report on cockfighting and avian diseases documents the threats to agriculture and other bird owners. A legislative history of animal fighting is available here. And read about the federal courts upholding all provisions of the animal-fighting law as constitutional, with a summary here.

The federal law against animal fighting is strong. Under Section 26 of the Animal Welfare Act, 7 U.S.C. 2156, it is a crime to:

  • Knowingly sponsor or exhibit in an animal fighting venture;
  • Knowingly attend an animal fighting venture, or knowingly causing an individual who has not attained the age of 16 to attend an animal fighting venture;
  • Knowingly buy, sell, possess, train, transport, deliver, or receive any animal for purposes of having the animal participate in an animal fighting venture;
  • Knowingly use the mail service of the U.S. Postal Service, or any “written, wire, radio televisions or other form of communications in, or using a facility of, interstate commerce,” to advertise an animal for use in an animal fighting venture, or to advertise a knife, gaff, or other sharp instrument designed to be attached to the leg of a bird for us in an animal fighting venture, or to promote or in any other manner further an animal fighting venture except as performed outside the U.S.;
  • Knowingly sell, buy, transport, or deliver in interstate or foreign commerce “a knife, a gaff, or any other sharp instrument” designed or intended to be attached to the leg of a bird for us in an animal fighting venture.

Penalties for each violation of any one of these provisions allows for a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for perpetrators, except for misdemeanor penalties for an adult attending an animal fighting venture.

Animal Wellness Action is a Washington, D.C.-based 501(c)(4) whose mission is to help animals by promoting laws and regulations at federal, state and local levels that forbid cruelty to all animals. The group also works to enforce existing anti-cruelty and wildlife protection laws. Animal Wellness Action believes helping animals helps us all. Twitter: @AWAction_News

Animal Wellness Foundation is a Los Angeles-based private charitable organization with a mission of helping animals by making veterinary care available to everyone with a pet, regardless of economic ability. We organize rescue efforts and medical services for dogs and cats in need and help homeless pets find a loving caregiver. We are advocates for getting veterinarians to the front lines of the animal welfare movement; promoting responsible pet ownership; and vaccinating animals against infectious diseases such as distemper. We also support policies that prevent animal cruelty and that alleviate suffering. We believe helping animals helps us all.