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February 21, 2014

Utah Senate Votes to Increase Cockfighting Penalties

Legislation to upgrade Utah’s law on cockfighting passed the Senate with a vote of 18-5, making it a felony on the second offense to participate in the blood sport where two roosters fight each other to the death while people place bets. A first offense will be prosecuted as a Class A misdemeanor. Under current law, cockfighting is punished as a Class B misdemeanor.

Nevada became the 37th state with a first-offense felony cockfighting law last year, leaving only 10 states with misdemeanor penalties, including Utah. Three other states punish cockfighting as a felony on a second or third offense. Felony laws are crucial because cockfighters seek out states with the weakest laws to carry out their abusive practices.

Sundays Hunt, Utah state director for The Humane Society of the United States, said: “Cockfighting is a barbaric combination of animal cruelty and gambling. With today’s vote, the Utah Senate has sent the message that our state will not become a refuge for cockfighters. We now urge the House to quickly pass this bill to bring our cockfighting law more closely in line with our neighboring states.”

Media Contacts: Stephanie Twining, 240-751-3943, stwining@humanesociety.org

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