Dozens of major cockfighting kingpins continue to operate in the Sooner State
Oklahoma City — Animal Wellness Action (AWA) applauded Bryan County Sheriff Johnny Christian and a local tipster for collaborating to put a stop to a major cockfight in Allison that occurred on Saturday night. According to the sheriff’s office, 200 to 300 individuals scattered after deputies found a cockfighting derby in progress. KXII-TV in Sherman, Texas reports one arrest so far, but a continuing investigation by the sheriff’s office.
The site of this raid is not far from the old Texoma Gamefowl Club, which was shuttered after voters approved a ban on cockfighting by ballot initiative in November 2002.
“Sheriff Christian provided a service to the community by stopping a cockfighting operation in progress,” said Wayne Pacelle, president of Animal Wellness Action. “There’s nothing good about strapping knives or curved ice picks to the legs of animals, putting them in a pit, and watching them carve each other up just for human amusement and illegal gambling.
This incident is the latest evidence of widespread cockfighting and trafficking of fighting animals in the Sooner State, despite a state law making it a felony to stage fights between birds or even to train or possess them for fighting. Cockfighting and possession of fighting animals, along with transporting them across state lines, is also a felony under federal law.
In 2020, AWA and the Animal Wellness Foundation (AWF) announced the results of a major investigation showing a major cockfighting industry openly operating in the state. Former Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson, co-chair of the National Law Enforcement Council of AWA and AW, provided evidence to three U.S. Attorneys in Oklahoma about 21 individuals operating major cockfighting complexes in the state. Included in that cache of information are 13 videos made by a Philippines-based broadcaster featuring Oklahoma-based cockfighters who marketed their birds to other cockfighters in the broadcasts.
Thus far, federal authorities have not announced any action against the alleged perpetrators.
AWA and AWF revealed that Oklahoma is home to some of the biggest traffickers of fighting animals in the United States. Nine Oklahoma cockfighters shipped 3356 animals to Guam for fighting purposes over a recent three-year period, according to an investigation conducted by the organizations. Through public records requests to the Guam Department of Agriculture, AWF and AWA obtained nearly 2,500 pages of avian shipping records dated November 2016 to September 2019, with more than 500 shipments. Oklahoman cockfighters accounted for more than a third of all birds illegally shipped to Guam.
AWA and AWF are continuing their investigations. Mr., Pacelle reminds Oklahoma citizens that Animal Wellness Action provides a $5,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest of any individual for involvement in illegal cockfighting activities.