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February 24, 2010

Poll Shows Ga. Voters Favor Tougher Penalties for Cockfighting

An overwhelming majority of Georgia voters want tougher penalties for cockfighting, with 75 percent in favor of closing loopholes in the state's cockfighting laws, according to a new survey by InsiderAdvantage/RosettaStone.

"While cockfighting can be charged as a felony in Georgia, possessing a bird for the purpose of fighting and knowingly attending a cockfight are both legal — creating loopholes that hinder the enforcement of the law," said Cheryl McAuliffe, Georgia state director for The Humane Society of the United States. "We need a legislative remedy to close these loopholes and provide a real deterrent against this cruel blood sport — which is associated with gambling, drugs and other illicit crimes."

The statewide survey of 1,235 Georgia voters was conducted Feb. 9, 2010, and the margin for error is plus or minus 3.6 percentage points. The complete poll results are available at politicalecalling.com.

In 2008 the Georgia legislature closed loopholes in the state's dogfighting law by passing a bill that banned possession of a dog for the purposes of fighting and knowingly attending a dogfight. Like dogfighting, cockfighting spectators are willing participants in the crime, and also perpetuate it by paying admission fees and wagering on the fights. Under current law, participants could claim they were only present at a cockfight as spectators, thereby avoiding punishment.

H.B. 987, introduced by Reps. Bob Bryant, D-Garden City, and Ron Stephens, R- Savannah, will set meaningful penalties for this crime as well as provide law enforcement with the tools necessary to crack down on the entire cast of characters involved in this cruel blood sport.

Cockfighting Facts

  • Tens of thousands of people are involved in cockfighting nationwide.
  • In a cockfight, two roosters fight each other to the death while people place bets on the outcome of the fight.
  • Common cockfighting practices include breeding birds for viciousness, drugging them to heighten aggression, and fitting their legs with razor-sharp knives or gaffs resembling ice picks.
  • Law enforcement raids across the country have revealed that cockfights, which are frequently attended by children, involve illegal gambling and — as a result of the large amount of cash present — firearms and other weapons are also often present.
  • Law enforcement agencies have documented a strong connection between cockfighting and the distribution of illegal drugs.

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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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