Colorado Senator Wayne Allard and Minnesota Congressman CollinPeterson have introduced legislation to eliminate a loophole inthe federal Animal Welfare Act which allows fighting birds tobe shipped from states where cockfighting is illegal to stateswhere the cruel "sport" is still allowed, Only threestates permit this inhumane, bloody activity: New Mexico, Louisianaand Oklahoma.
Currently, law enforcement officers have a difficult time crackingdown on illegal cockfights in the 47 states where it is banned.When confronted, cockfighters merely claim that the fighting birdsin their possession are destined for shipment to a legal cockfightingstate. Prosecution of these unscrupulous cockfighters would befacilitated if the Allard bill (S. 345) and the Peterson bill(H.R. 1275) become law.
Cockfightingis a centuries-old bloodsport in which two ormore specially hired roosters are forced into a pit to fight surroundedby gambling onlookers. Often, one or both birds die as a resultof the fight because their feet are fitted with razor sharp steelknives. The birds may end up with punctured wings, broken bonesand pierced eyes. Even the battle's "winner" may ultimatelydie from injuries sustained inthe fight. And birds that survive but are deemed unfit to fightagain are either killed by their owner or simply thrown in a garbagecan to suffer and die.
Independent of Senator Allard's federal legislative initiative,there is a move underway in Oklahoma to prohibit cockfightingwithin the state, joining Missouri and Arizona which just bannedcockfighting through citizen ballot initiatives last November.Oklahoma State Representative Charles Gray has introduced legislationto ban cockfighting specifically. Cockfighters in the state Suchas Walt Roberts, however, object to people trying "to endthe sport because it is not within their definition of what ishumane" according to Oklahoma's Tulsa World newspaper.
But Representative Gray is not alone in hisopposition to this horrible fighting. A statewide poll sponsoredby the Tulsa World revealed 2 to 1 opposition to cockfighting:if a cockfighting ban were put to a vote, 65 percent of Oklahomanswould vote in favor while only 30 percent would vote against.As long as there is powerful and vocal rural opposition in thestate, however, it is unlikely that the legislature would voteto end the cruel practice of cockfighting. This makes passageof Senator Allard's federal legislationall the more important.
AWI Quarterly, Spring 1999, Vol. 48, No.2, p. 10