March 3, 2009
Alabama Cockfighting Bill Gains Unanimous Support in Senate Committee
The HSUS Urges Senate Rules Committee to Pass S.B. 146
The Humane Society of the United States today praised the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee for unanimously passing S.B. 146, introduced by Sen. Hinton Mitchem, D-Union Grove, which will strengthen the state's penalties for cockfighting and erase Alabama's current position of having the nation's weakest cockfighting law. The nation's largest animal protection organization is now calling on Alabama's Senate Rules Committee to schedule a vote on a bill that will crack down on the cruel underworld of illegal cockfighting.
"We thank the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee members for recognizing that this bill will send a strong message to cockfighers: Alabama will no longer be the destination for this cruel blood sport and its associated crimes," said Mindy Gilbert, Alabama state director for The Humane Society of the United States. "We recognize that a $50 fine may have been a sizeable punishment back in 1896, when the cockfighting law was passed, but it's time for the penalties for engaging in such a cruel blood sport to match the crime."
Today's vote occurred on the heels of a large cockfighting raid that took place in Gray Hill this weekend, in which 148 people were arrested. According to news reports, several small bags containing drugs were dropped on the ground as the raid occurred and, in addition to illegal gambling and cockfighting charges, there were charges related to possession of methamphetamines, marijuana and drug paraphernalia.
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, Alabama was ranked dead last due to its anemic penalties, which consist of a paltry fine ranging from $20 to $50 that amounts to nothing more than a slap on the wrist for people engaging in this cruel activity. Cockfighters find safe haven in Alabama because the state's nominal penalties for the crime can be 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 present.
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.