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February 20, 2009

Kansas Legislators Consider Bill to Crack Down on Cockfighting

The HSUS Urges Full House Vote on S.B. 238

The Humane Society of the United States

The Humane Society of the United States is calling on Kansas' House of Representatives to pass a bill that will crack down on the cruel underworld of illegal cockfighting. The nation's largest animal protection organization praised the Senate for passing S.B. 238 by a vote of 38 to two. The bill was introduced by Sen. Julia Lynn, R-Olathe, and if passed, will strengthen the state's penalties for cockfighting. 

"We thank the Kansas Senate for recognizing that this bill will send a strong message to cockfighters: Kansas will no longer be the destination for this cruel blood sport and its associated crimes," said John Goodwin, manager of animal fighting issues for The Humane Society of the United States.

In June 2008, the Johnson County Sheriff's Office raided a cockfighting operation in which two people were arrested and approximately 500 birds were seized. One of the defendants pled guilty to cockfighting, but due to the law's limited penalties, he received pre-trial diversion and only had to reimburse the Sheriff's Office for the cost of the investigation. 

The Humane Society of the United States recently released its ranking of the nation's cockfighting laws. Out of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, Kansas was ranked 44th due to its misdemeanor penalties, which consist of up to one year of imprisonment and/or a fine of no greater than $1,000. Cockfighters find safe haven in Kansas because, while every state bordering Kansas punishes cockfighting as a felony, Kansas' meager penalties for the crime are easily offset by gambling winnings. 

  • 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 found.

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The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. 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. 

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