May 19, 2011
California Senate Passes Bill to Strengthen Cockfighting Laws
SB 425 now moves to Assembly
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The Humane Society of the United States commends the California Senate for passing SB 425, authored by Sen. Ronald Calderon, D – Montebello, to upgrade California’s weak anti-cockfighting laws. This bill received overwhelming bi-partisan support, passing with a 36 -1 vote and will set mandatory minimum fines and allow for profit forfeiture following cockfighting charges.
Calderon also authored SB 426, which is expected to be considered on Monday, seeking to allow landlords to evict tenants using their property for animal fighting, or keeping animals for use in animal fighting. Both bills were unanimously approved by policy committees.
“This vote by the California Senate brings us closer to stopping this cruel bloodsport where roosters fight to the death with knives tied to their legs,” said Jennifer Fearing, California senior state director for The HSUS. “We hope that the Assembly will follow the Senate’s lead and send this legislation to Governor Brown by summer’s end. The fate of thousands of birds now rests with them.”
Since 2008, there have been more than 110 law enforcement incidences involving cockfighting in 35 of California’s 58 counties. More than 21,000 birds have been found dead or alive in connection with the bloodsport during that time. This past weekend, Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies broke up a large-scale cockfight in the backyard of a Valinda home where 45 birds were seized and an estimated 100 spectators fled, escaping arrest.
“Cockfighting is dangerous to the community, often drawing the drug and gang element,” said Sen Calderon. “We have got to toughen our laws and pull up California's welcome mat to discourage this bloodsport.”
While tough laws in the bordering states of Arizona and Oregon have kept cockfighting to a minimum, these underground organized criminal activities continue to thrive across urban and rural, coastal and inland, northern and southern California.
- Cockfighting is outlawed in all 50 states and is punished as a felony in 39.
- The editorial boards of the Bakersfield Californian, Los Angeles Times, and the San Diego Union-Tribune recently have endorsed tougher laws against cockfighting in California.
- It is not a felony under California law to be 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.
- Tougher laws in border states like Arizona and Oregon make California a destination of choice for cockfighters in the region.
**Video footage of undercover cockfights 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.