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8 August 2001 Issue
Senate Passes Anti-Cockfighting Bill

By Frederic J. Frommer
Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Senate passed an amendment banning the interstate
transfer of birds for cockfighting, giving animal rights activists a long-sought victory.

"Gambling, money laundering, assaults, and even murders are not uncommon
activities that accompany cockfighting,'' said Sen. Wayne Allard, a Colorado
Republican who sponsored the amendment Tuesday. "I simply don't see any
place for any of this in American society.''

Allard, a veterinarian, teamed up with Rep. Collin Peterson, a pro-hunting
Minnesota Democrat, to push for passage. Last year, then-Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott refused to hold a vote on the bill.

Federal law prohibits the shipment of animals for fighting across state lines, but birds can be shipped to one of the three states where cockfighting is still legal - New Mexico, Oklahoma and Louisiana.

Allard said this "crafty loophole'' gives illegal cockfighters in the other 47 states an easy defense when confronted by police - they often say they are just raising the birds for shipment elsewhere.

"Illegal cockfighting is rampant in this nation,'' said Allard. "All over the country, birds are affixed with razors and knives and pumped full of steroids, stimulants and blood-clotting agents and made to fight to death - all for sport and money.''

The Senate approved the amendment to an emergency agriculture spending bill
by voice vote. Sen. Zell Miller, D-Ga., opposed it. He didn't speak on the floor, but in an earlier statement, he mocked the legislation.

"I thought the federal government's job was to suppress insurrections, repel invasions, declare war and grant letters of reprisal - important stuff like that - not to stop folks from hauling chickens across state lines.''

Former Sen. Steve Symms, R-Idaho, who lobbied against the bill for the cockfighter's trade association, the American Animal Husbandry Coalition, called passage "very sad.''

"If this bill becomes law, it will do away with thousands of small businesses who ship these birds and export them overseas,'' he said.

Wayne Pacelle, a lobbyist and vice president for the Humane Society of the United States, had a different take.

"We are very excited that the Senate, almost without dissent, approved legislation to combat the gruesome and barbaric practice of cockfighting,'' he said.

The legislation will likely be taken up in a House-Senate conference committee on the overall emergency spending bill.

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