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The HSUS Ranks State Cockfighting Laws

The Humane Society of the United States

The Humane Society of the United States released its ranking of the nation's cockfighting laws. Cockfighters find safe haven in states with weak penalties for cockfighting because nominal punishment for the crime can be easily offset by gambling winnings. In cockfights, roosters have knives strapped to their legs and are forced to fight to the death for the perverse sake of revelry.   

"It's time for every state to eradicate cockfighting and the cruelty and associated criminal activities associated with it," said John Goodwin, manager of animal fighting issues for The Humane Society of the United States. "Those who entertain themselves and make a profit from this cruel blood sport should face consequences that are greater than the gains that come from breaking the law."

In the list, the 50 states and the District of Columbia are ranked according to whether they impose felony or misdemeanor laws against cockfighting as well as the strength of their laws, if any, against three related activities — being a spectator at a cockfight; possession of fighting cocks; and possession of cockfighting weapons. Additionally, the states are ranked according to length of jail sentence and fines imposed.

The nation's six worst cockfighting laws exist in the following states:

Alabama, 51st place

Mississippi, 50th place

Idaho, 49th place

Kentucky, 48th place

Arkansas, 47th place

To view the complete ranking of U.S. cockfighting laws, visit humanesociety.org.

About Cockfighting:

  • Tens of thousands of people are involved in cockfighting nationwide.
  • Common cockfighting practices include breeding birds for viciousness, drugging them to heighten aggression and fitting their legs with razor-sharp knives or gaffs, which resemble curved ice picks.
  • Law enforcement raids across the country have revealed that cockfights, which are frequently attended by children, often involve gambling, illegal drugs and, as a result of the large amounts of cash present, firearms and other weapons are also often present.


The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 10.5 million Americans, or one of every 30. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education, and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the Web at humanesociety.org.