Authorities in Marlboro County, South Carolina,  broke up an active cockfight Saturday night, resulting in the arrest of 27 suspected cockfighters and the rescue of 122 gamefowl and one emaciated dog with 10 pups. The Humane Society of the United States was called in to assist the Marlboro County Sheriff’s Office and South Carolina Law Enforcement Division with the operation, and Carolina Waterfowl Rescue removed the animals to a safe location.

The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources and South Carolina Forestry Commission also assisted with the raid.

The raid, which occurred in the overnight hours, was the result of an investigation after authorities discovered the venue was used to stage cockfights. Suspected cockfighting paraphernalia and an undetermined amount of cash were also seized.

Under South Carolina law, cockfighting is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine up to $1,000 or up to a year in jail. As cockfighting clearly remains a problem in the state, new legislation has been proposed to crack down on the illegal activity. H. 3408, sponsored by Rep. Deborah Long, would criminalize the possession of cockfighting paraphernalia and game fowl with the intent to fight and would criminalize bringing a minor to a cockfight. S. 157, sponsored by Sen. Katrina Shealy, would make cockfighting a second offense felony. Neither bill has received a hearing to date.

Kimberly Kelly, South Carolina state director for The Humane Society of the United States, said: “Cockfighting is a barbaric bloodsport that is taken seriously by law enforcement in South Carolina. We were to glad to assist the dedicated officers in Marlboro County to shut down a cockfighting enterprise that only brought crime and violence to the community. With stronger laws on the books, our authorities could be even more effective in wiping out cockfighting everywhere in our state.”

Marlboro County Sheriff Fred Knight said: “This is the second one of these operations we have done since I’ve been Sheriff. It takes a lot of planning, manpower and hard work to successfully complete this type of case. The fights themselves are inhumane for the animals involved but so many more crimes come about at these events to include gambling, drugs and violence. I urge citizens to continue to call with information and I thank the Humane Society of the Unites States and the Marlboro County Humane Society, South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, DNR and South Carolina Forestry Commission for their assistance and expertise. I also want to say a special thanks to Lt. Jamie Seales, Investigator Bob Hale and Special Agents John Folin and Andy Bethea of SLED for heading up this Investigation in a professional manner.”

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