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Nevada Governor Enacts Stronger Cockfighting Penalties

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval has signed a new law making cockfighting a felony on the first offense—an upgrade that is supported by The Humane Society of the United States. With SB 83 enacted, Nevada becomes the 37th state with a first-offense felony cockfighting law. First-offense felony laws in states are crucial because cockfighters seek out states with the weakest laws to carry out their abusive practices. Three other states have felony penalties for repeat offenses, and 10 other states only have misdemeanor penalties, including Utah.

Holly Haley, Nevada state director for The HSUS, said: “Upgrading cockfighting to a first-time felony offense helps pull up Nevada’s welcome mat to the bloodsport. We thank Governor Sandoval for signing the bill into law and sending the message that our state has a no-nonsense attitude toward the barbaric practice of putting knives on the legs of roosters and having them fight to the death.”


  • Cockfighting is illegal in every state, and all animal fighting that affects interstate commerce is punishable as a federal felony under the Animal Welfare Act.
  • Common cockfighting practices include breeding birds for viciousness, drugging them to heighten aggression, and fitting their legs with deadly weapons—that is, razor-sharp knives or gaffs, which resemble curved ice picks.
  • Congress is considering legislation—the Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act—to further strengthen the federal animal fighting law by making it a crime to be a spectator at a dogfight or cockfight, with additional penalties for bringing a child to the fight.

Media Contact: Stephanie Twining, 301-258-1491, stwining@humanesociety.org

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