Fall 2002 Poultry Press Recent Events
Law Closes In On Cockfighting in the U.S.

"Individuals who instigate fights between animals or who attend these pathetic spectacles should have no legal sanctuary anywhere in the United States. We will be satisfied only when the last cockfighting pit is closed." -Wayne Pacelle, Senior Vice President, The Humane Society of the United States.

Oklahoma: In August the Oklahoma Supreme Court cleared the final state court hurdle to bring a proposed cockfighting ban to Oklahoma voters. Governor Frank Keating placed State Question 687 on the November 5th ballot and announced he would vote for the ban. If voters approve Question 687, cockfighting and related activities in Oklahoma will be felony offences. Oklahoma is set to become the 48th state to ban cockfighting and the 27th state to adopt felony-level penalties. "The Oklahoma Coalition Against Cockfighting is very pleased this matter will be before the people, and Oklahomans will have an opportunity to vote to ban this practice once and for all," OCAC campaign manager Cynthia Armstrong told the press.

Kansas: By an overwhelming vote, Kansas legislators passed a law to ban cockfighting in the state that includes criminal penalties of up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine. Vote count on the bill introduced by Kansas representative Peggy Long (R-Madison) was 112-10 in the House and 36-4 in the Senate.

U.S. Congress: Both the Senate and the House of Representatives of the United States 107th Congress signed into law Farm Bill amendments to ban the interstate shipment of birds for fighting, to ban foreign exports of birds or other animals intended to be used for fighting, and to increase penalties for animal fighting. Provisions to make animal fighting a felony offence were thwarted in the final stage by the Conference Committee, which reduced the penalty to a misdemeanor and stipulated that the new law cannot take effect until May 2003. The Humane Society of the United States has announced it will work with Congressional allies to stiffen the penalties.

Arkansas has introduced a ballot initiative that would make malicious animal cruelty, including cockfighting, a felony offence in the state. If Arkansas and Oklahoma both make cockfighting a felony offence, the number of felony states will be 28.

Iowa and Indiana strengthened their cockfighting penalties this year.

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