February 15, 2011
Texas Cockfighting Investigation Proves Need for Stronger Laws
Undercover video shows the scope of the problem
AUSTIN – The Humane Society of the United States has released a year’s worth of undercover video footage exposing illegal cockfighting rings across Texas. The video depicts severe animal cruelty and our investigators also witnessed drug use and prostitution. At many of the cockfights, children were present.
“Throughout Texas, roosters are being forced to fight to the death with steel blades tied to their legs,” said John Goodwin, director of animal fighting policy for The HSUS. “Until major loopholes in the state's cockfighting ban are closed, this crime will continue to be widespread throughout Texas.”
H.B. 1043, sponsored by Rep. Wayne Christian, R-District 9, would put the state’s cockfighting laws in line with the state’s dogfighting laws. This includes banning the possession of a bird with the intent to fight, being a spectator at a cockfight, or possessing the weapons intended for use in a cockfight.
“Cockfighting is an extreme form of animal cruelty and goes hand in hand with other crimes,” said Rep. Wayne Christian. “Enactment of this legislation would be a win-win for both animals and our communities.”
The HSUS investigators attended 17 cockfights at locations throughout the eastern half of the state. It is expected that more than 100 cockfighting location exist in Texas. In some locations, fight promoters openly bragged that they were safe because of arrangements with law enforcement. The Texas Tribune and The New York Times recently brought the state’s problem with the blood sport to light.
- Cockfighting is outlawed in all 50 states and is punished as a felony in 39.
- Texas can punish cockfighting as a felony, but state law does not ban being a spectator at a cockfight. This makes it difficult for law enforcement to charge most people caught in cockfighting raids as participants routinely abandon their birds and claim they were only present to watch the fights.
- Every state that borders Texas bans the keeping or training of roosters for the purposes of fighting them. Texas will continue to be the destination of choice for cockfighters in the region so long as the Lone Star state has more loopholes for this bloodsport than any other southwestern state.
**Video footage of cockfights in your area available for download upon request.
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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.