Eighty-one percent support cockfighting ban, survey shows
The Associated Press, The New Mexican - 2/7/2001
SANTA FE (AP) - Four out of five New Mexicans surveyed last month
oppose cockfighting and support a state law banning it, animal
protection groups said Wednesday.
Support for a ban crosses geographic, ethnic and political lines,
according to the survey of 412 registered voters.
"We have 81 percent of the state saying, 'Let's ban cockfighting for
good,"' said Lisa Jennings, executive director of Animal Protection
of New Mexico.
Holding dog fights is already a fourth-degree felony; activists
propose to broaden the law to prohibit animal fights, which would
New Mexico is one of three states with no statewide prohibition on
cockfighting, in which two roosters with sharp blades strapped to
their legs are placed in a pit to fight.
Louisiana and Oklahoma are the other two states.
Eleven counties and 27 municipalities in New Mexico have ordinances
banning cockfighting, but activists say there are areas of the state
- primarily in the south and east - where it occurs.
"I think it is more than time to get this behind us once and for
all," said Sen. Nancy Rodriguez, D-Santa Fe, the sponsor of the bill
to make it a crime to arrange or take part in animal fighting.
According to the survey taken by Research & Polling Inc. of
Albuquerque, a cockfighting ban is supported by:
-84 percent of Anglos, 76 percent of Hispanics.
-80 percent of Republicans, 83 percent of Democrats, 72 percent of
independents or others.
-77 percent of voters on the east side, 83 percent in the
south-southwest, 80 percent in the northwest, 80 percent in the
north-central region, 82 percent in the Albuquerque metropolitan
Cockfighting pits are believed to exist in Hidalgo, Cibola, Lea,
Valencia, Sierra, Otero, Luna, Roosevelt and Socorro counties,
according to the bill's supporters.
In Cibola County recently, cockfighting proponents argued that a ban
violated their civil rights.
According to an investigative report by the Humane Society of the
United States, the most common type of organized cockfighting is a
derby, in which entry fees are pooled to provide prize money. Fees
also may be charged to spectators, the report said. Jennings said
while gambling on cockfights is against the law, betting on the
sidelines is a common practice.
Supporters of cockfighting have told lawmakers in the past that the
practice is family-oriented, part of a rural lifestyle and helps
rural economies because of feed and equipment sales to game fowl
"There is absolutely no reason why somebody should feel they could
make a financial gain at the expense and suffering of another living
being," said state Land Commissioner Ray Powell Jr., a veterinarian.
The coalition supporting the ban includes Attorney General Patricia
Madrid, the District Attorneys Association, veterinary and animal
control groups and the New Mexico Conference of Churches.
Counties where cockfighting is already prohibited, according to the
coalition: Bernalillo, Colfax, Dona Ana, Los Alamos, McKinley, Rio
Arriba, San Juan, San Miguel, Santa Fe, Taos and Cibola.
© Copyright 2001 The New Mexican