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Farm Bill May Mean Federal Cockfighting Crackdown in KY

PHOTO: The proposed Farm Bill includes a crackdown on cockfighting, an illegal activity in which Kentucky is known as a hub. Courtesy HSUS.

PHOTO: The proposed Farm Bill includes a crackdown on cockfighting, an illegal activity in which Kentucky is known as a hub. Courtesy HSUS.


July 25, 2013

FRANKFORT, Ky. - Cockfighting is illegal in all 50 states and a felony in 40 of them - but not Kentucky, where it remains a misdemeanor.

Wayne Pacelle, president and chief executive of the Humane Society of the United States, called Kentucky's cockfighting law "anemic," adding that he hopes the Farm Bill being debated on Capitol Hill will up the ante against the blood sport.

"The federal provision in the Farm Bill, in the House bill and the Senate bill, to crack down on spectators and people bringing children to dogfights and cockfights, really is going to do very, very important work in Kentucky, given the prevalence of this activity," he said.

Kentucky is "a hub in the nation" for cockfighting, Pacelle said. The Farm Bill, as currently proposed, would close a loophole in the law by allowing for the arrest of "the whole cast of characters" at a cockfight, including spectators, he said. Bringing a child to an animal fight would also become a felony.

The crackdown would help in other ways, too, Pacelle said. For example, while cockfighting is a felony in North Carolina, he said, many people there raise the roosters for fighting and then travel to states such as Kentucky.

"So, that sort of interstate movement of animals for fighting is exactly why the federal government is seeking to crack down on the activity," he said.

That crackdown is far from a done deal. Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla., chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, is opposed to the feds going any further on the animal-fighting issue. Meanwhile, the Senate's ag chairs support the idea.

The Humane Society's "top dog" said he's optimistic.

"We feel good about our chances. Both bills have tremendous bipartisan support, in the House and Senate."

Greg Stotelmyer , Public News Service - KY
 

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