Animal Writes
7 February 1999 Issue

Cock Fighting
By Janelle Carter, AP Farm Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) Pushing to end cockfighting, animal rights activists want
Congress to close a loophole in a federal law that allows fighting roosters to be
transported from state to state.

"Animal fighting is a bloody spectacle and has no place in a civilized society,''
Wayne Pacelle, senior vice president of the Humane Society of the United States,
said Tuesday. "It's important the Congress take a public stand against these

Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colo., a veterinarian, is introducing legislation at the request
of the Humane Society that would close a loophole in the Animal Welfare Act that
allows birds to be shipped across state lines if cockfighting is legal in the state
receiving the animals.

New Mexico, Louisiana and Oklahoma are the only states where cockfighting is
still legal. Missouri and Arizona voters banned the practice this past November.
The Humane Society said cockfighting still takes place, however, in many states
where it is banned.

Cockfighting opponents say breeders will often claim they possess birds not to
fight in their own state but to take them to a state where cockfighting is legal. The
claims often cause confusion for law enforcement officials and result in no
prosecution, activists say.

"The fact that there's not an interstate trade prohibition on the birds and the
paraphernalia is a big opening for cockfighters to exploit,'' Pacelle said. Added
Humane Society investigator Eric Sakach, "Our experience has shown virtually no
state is immune.''

In the centuries-old activity, fighting roosters (outfitted with blades on their heels)
are placed in a ring to slash at each other while spectators often bet on the
outcome. The loser of the fight often dies. "These animals have no choice,'' said
World Championship Wrestling champion Bill Goldberg, an Oklahoma native who
is featured in advertisements denouncing the practice. "It's sick.''

But in some parts of the country, cockfighting is viewed as a way of life that is
harmless. "They get plenty of food. They get exercise,'' said Brett Johnson, a
former New Mexico State legislator who as a lawmaker voted against attempts to
ban cockfighting. "The Humane Society is just after the little mom and pop shops.
The life of a fighting chicken is a lot more humane.'' Besides, tightening laws still
wouldn't end tradition, Johnson said. "It's not going to stop. All it's going to do is
make a bunch of law abiding citizens criminals.''

[Editor's note: To read account of wrestler Bill Goldberg's address to Congress,
check out the following website:]

Goldberg goes to Congress

Go on to PCB's
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