Authorities last week raided a cockfighting operation in Tyler, confiscating 44 roosters and detaining about 20 persons who were present at the cockfight.
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) provided the information that led to the sting, but most of those at the scene were released because Texas is one of just six states that permits attending a cockfight, to posses birds for the purpose of fighting, and to possess cockfighting weapons. Pending legislation would restrict such activities.
Representative Wayne Christian, R-District ing online 9, is sponsoring an HSUS-supported bill to make it illegal to attend a cockfight or to possess roosters for the purpose of fighting. HSUS Director of Animal Cruelty Policy John Goodwin is enthusiastic about the new legislation.
“We commend the Smith County Sheriff’s Department for taking allegations of animal fighting seriously,” he said. “Cockfighting will continue to be a widespread problem in Texas until a law is passed to punish those who make this gruesome crime profitable.”
Cockfighting is illegal in all 50 states, and a felony in 39.
Prosecution of this crime in Texas is difficult because merely being present at a cockfight is not yet outlawed. Those caught at fights claim they were only watching. The Texas anti-cockfighting law is weak, allowing the keeping and training roosters to fight. Therefore surrounding states which have tougher laws come to Texas to hold their tournaments.
The HSUS offers rewards of up to $5000 for information on cases of already-illegal animal fighting, and informants’ identities are kept secret.
Anyone with news of illegal animal fighting should call (877) TIP-HSUS (847-4787.)