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April 3, 2009

The HSUS Asks Ala. Ag Commissioner to Crack Down on Cockfighting

The Humane Society of the United States

Mindy Gilbert, Alabama state director for The Humane Society of the United States, issued the following appeal to Alabama Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks:

"The HSUS calls on Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks to help protect Alabama's $7.5 billion per year poultry industry by cracking down on the underground world of illegal cockfighting. As the state with the nation's weakest cockfighting laws, Alabama has become a popular destination for cockfighters from other states where they face tougher penalties for their criminal activities. Interstate transportation of birds used in illegal cockfighting poses a serious threat to the poultry industry in Alabama by increasing the spread of contagious diseases.

"Outbreaks of exotic Newcastle disease, avian influenza and other poultry diseases have been traced back to cockfighting birds, and could cost the poultry industry billions of dollars in losses if they spread to Alabama. The maximum penalty of $50 is just a slap on the wrist and a cost of doing business, and needs to be upgraded to provide a meaningful deterrent to cockfighting. The HSUS thanks Commissioner Sparks for publicly supporting legislation to make cockfighting a felony offense, and asks him to urge House Agriculture and Forestry Committee Chair Thomas Jackson to place the legislation on the calendar. Passing strong anti-cockfighting penalties will stop animal cruelty and go a long way toward safeguarding legitimate agriculture in the state."

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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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