February 19, 2011
Tyler, Texas Cockfighting Raid Highlights Need for Stronger Penalties
The Humane Society of the United States assists Smith County Sheriff's Department in investigation and raid
TYLER, Tex.--The Humane Society of the United States supplied key information that led to the Friday night raid of a suspected cockfighting operation in Tyler, Texas. Experts from The HSUS also provided evidence identification and documentation on the scene.
Authorities seized 44 roosters and an estimated 20 people were detained on the scene by local law enforcement. Many of the people at the cockfight were released without charge because Texas is one of only six states where it's legal to attend a cockfight, to possess birds for the purpose of cockfighting, and to possess cockfighting weapons.
The HSUS is supporting H.B 1043, sponsored by Rep. Wayne Christian, R-District 9, to strengthen the state's cockfighting law to prohibit attending cockfights or possessing birds for the purposes of fighting them, which will close glaring loopholes in existing law.
"We commend the Smith County Sheriff's Department for taking allegations of animal fighting seriously," said John Goodwin, director of animal cruelty policy for The HSUS. "Cockfighting will continue to be a widespread problem in Texas until a law is passed to punish those who make this gruesome crime profitable."
The HSUS offers rewards of up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of any person involved in illegal animal fighting. Anyone with information about animal fighting criminals is asked to call 877-TIP-HSUS (847-4787). Tipsters' identities will be protected.
- 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.
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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.