Organization calls for stronger laws to deter animal fighting and burden on law enforcement
Washington, D..C. — Today, Animal Wellness Action and the Center for a Humane Economy issued a statement on news that county, state, and federal are collaborating on busting a cockfighting ring in southeast Georgia. So far, there have been 12 arrests, including for animal cruelty and possession of fentanyl. In the course of the weekend earlier this month, 10 agencies and agents took the following actions:
- Seized a total of 28 firearms from three convicted felons
- Seized over $90,000 in cash.
- Found cockfighting tools, pens, cages, blind boxes, discarded dead roosters, drugs, firearms, ammunition, suspected marijuana, suspected methamphetamine, a stolen firearm in a vehicle, and over 100 rooster pens.
Wayne Pacelle, president of Animal Wellness Action, issued the following statement:
“Local, state, and federal officials are treating cockfighting with the seriousness it deserves. These are malicious crimes of animal cruelty, and they are bound up with commercial gambling, illegal firearms possession, and possession of fentanyl. Law enforcement is sending the signal that cockfighting will no longer be tolerated. We applaud law enforcement for apprehending these alleged perpetrators and preventing them from committing more acts of cruelty.”
Lawmakers in both the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate recently introduced the Fighting Inhumane Gambling and High-Risk Trafficking (FIGHT) Act, and the authors hope to include the provision as an amendment to the Farm bill. Both pieces of legislation were driven by concerns for the barbarism of animal fighting, other criminal behavior comingled with it, and disease threats to poultry posed by transporting fighting roosters.
The FIGHT Act, amending Section 26 of the Animal Welfare Act, would enhance the enforcement opportunities by banning simulcasting and gambling of animal fighting ventures; halting the shipment of mature roosters (chickens only) shipped through the U.S. mail (it is already illegal to ship dogs through the mail); creating a citizen suit provision, after proper notice to federal authorities, to allow private right of action against illegal animal fighters; and enhancing forfeiture provisions to include real property for animal fighting crimes.
Animal cruelty, including cockfighting, is a felony in Georgia, and it is also a federal felony, along with possession of fighting animals, trading in cockfighting knives and gaffs attached to the animals’ legs.