August 5, 2009
Postal Service Cracks Down on Animal Fighting
‘The Feathered Warrior’ Cockfighting Magazine Calls it Quits After 106 Years
The Humane Society of the United States, on behalf of its 11 million supporters, praised the U.S. Postal Service for announcing Monday that it plans to amend its mailing standards to prohibit the shipment of publications that violate the animal fighting provisions of the federal Animal Welfare Act. One such publication, The Feathered Warrior, recently announced that it has ceased operations. Both actions come on the heels of a federal court ruling ordering the Postal Service to re-examine its policies concerning animal fighting.
“The Post Office is finally cracking down on the widespread trafficking in animal fighting paraphernalia throughout the United States, and following the clear terms of federal law,” said Jonathan Lovvorn, vice president & chief counsel of animal protection litigation for The HSUS. “The advertisement and shipping of fighting birds, magazines, knives and other contraband are the glue that holds the animal fighting industry together. It is long past time for the Postal Service to stop enabling this organized criminal industry.”
The HSUS filed suit against the Postal Service in 2007, arguing that the Postal Service’s refusal to declare certain cockfighting magazines “nonmailable” was a violation of both the Animal Welfare Act and the Postal Reorganization Act. In March 2009, the federal court in D.C. ordered the Postal Service to re-evaluate its decision to allow the cockfighting magazines to be mailed.
The publications at issue are frequently packed with advertisements for fighting birds and paraphernalia associated with illegal animal fighting. Although illegal in all 50 states, cockfighting remains a multi-million dollar business in the United States, thanks in large part to the publications that facilitate the commerce of the illicit industry.
The final, farewell issue of The Feathered Warrior rolled off the presses in July 2009. Before its demise, The Feathered Warrior was one of just three cockfighting magazines that openly promoted and celebrated the cruel blood sport of cockfighting. Not only did the publication serve as a vehicle to glorify and expand cockfighting in the United States, but it also ran advertisements for cockfighting implements and schedules that helped devotees maintain their network.
The two other major cockfighting publications — Grit & Steel and The Gamecock — are still operating, but have dramatically changed format to eliminate advertisements for fighting animals, knives, and other federal contraband. Grit & Steel took these steps on its own, and The Gamecock changed format in order to settle litigation filed by The HSUS against The Gamecock, The Feathered Warrior and Amazon.com alleging ongoing violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act. Although subscriptions to The Gamecock and The Feathered Warrior were some of the top sellers on Amazon.com two years ago, neither of them have offered subscriptions on Amazon’s Web site for several months.
The Postal Service will take comments on the proposed rule until Sept. 2, 2009.
- 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 firearms and other weapons due to of the large amounts of cash present for gambling.
- Law enforcement officials have documented a strong connection between cockfighting and the distribution of illegal drugs.
- Broadcast-quality video and high-resolution animal fighting images are available at video.hsus.org.
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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.