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March 14, 2014

Utah Legislature Runs Out of Time on Cockfighting Bill

The Utah Senate and House of Representatives were unable to agree on an upgrade to Utah’s weak cockfighting law before the session ended at midnight. SB 112, which would have made it a felony on the second offense to participate in cockfighting previously passed the Senate and passed the House Judiciary Committee before coming to the House floor on the final day of Utah’s legislative session. The House insisted on limiting any increase in penalties to a Class A misdemeanor. The Senate realized that the lack of any felony penalties would leave a new law ineffective and held their ground for a felony penalty. This is the second year in a row that a bill to set felony penalties for cockfighting has failed to pass the Utah House.

Utah remains the only state in the West without felony cockfighting penalties, which opens it up as a haven for cockfighters to carry out their abusive practices. With the passage of a felony cockfighting bill in South Dakota this week, 41 states now have felony penalties for cockfighting, with 38 being on the first offense.

Sundays Hunt, Utah state director for The Humane Society of the United States, said: “We are disappointed time wasn't on our side and we weren't able to secure final passage of a bill which would have set meaningful penalties for cockfighting in our state. However, the vote in the House proves that lawmakers do not want Utah to be a refuge for the blood sport.  We will continue to work to remove Utah from the list of go-to states for cockfighters seeking out anemic penalties.” 

Media Contact: Stephanie Twining, 240-751-3943, stwining@humanesociety.org

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