Recently, SC Agriculture Commissioner and former long-term state
legislator, Charles Sharpe, was indicted on serious federal charges
stemming from illegal payments from an association of cockfighters. In
return for their financial support, Sharpe made sure that SC provided a
safe haven for their bloody and gruesome activities.
Currently, cockfighting is a misdemeanor in SC and carries a maximum $100
fine and a maximum of 30 days in jail. However, even this weak law is
rarely enforced because authorities must catch the perpetrators in the act
- which is virtually impossible. The SC Animal Fighting and Baiting Act
makes animal fighting a felony and perpetrators do not have to be caught in
the act to be prosecuted – charges can be brought based on evidence of the
crime. However, gamefowl are specifically exempt from this law - thanks to
Commissioner Sharpe and other state lawmakers who have been unduly
influenced by their friends – the cockfighting lobbyists.
Roosters raised for fighting are often confined to tiny cages and tormented
to make them aggressive. Cockfighters feed “gamecocks” a steady diet of
stimulants and blood clotting drugs and attach razor sharp spurs to the
birds’ feet to make fights more “exciting” (i.e., bloody). The birds suffer
broken wings and legs, punctured lungs, severed spinal cords, and gouged
out eyes. The “lucky” ones die; the survivors are fought again. There is no
“victory” for fighting cocks.
Gambling and firearms are the norm at cockfights because of the large
amounts of cash present. Law-enforcement officials have also documented a
connection between cockfighting and the distribution of illegal drugs.
Young children are often present at cockfights; exposure to such violence
can promote an insensitivity to animal suffering and an enthusiasm for
violence. The violence in cockfighting has been associated with other kinds
of violence, including homicides.
Tradition is no excuse for cruelty, and as more and more South Carolinians
realize how barbaric this so-called “heritage” is, it will be outlawed
completely. Cockfighting is a felony in 30 states and federal law prohibits
the interstate transport of roosters for cockfights.
What SC Residents Can Do
Please contact the state house member and senator representing your
district and ask them to stand up to the criminal network of cockfighters
and sponsor legislation to remove the gamefowl exemption from the Animal
Fighting and Baiting Act.. You can find the name and contact information
for your representatives at
Please express your opinion as a concerned citizen of South Carolina rather
than as a member of an advocacy group.
For more information, please contact:
Leslie H. Armstrong
Advocates for Animals (AFA)
AFA is a non-profit corporation registered in South Carolina (with pending
501(c)(3) status). Directors Leslie Armstrong, Jane Garrison (both formerly
of PETA) and Alan Berger (former Animal Protection Institute Executive
Director) formed AFA to advocate for animals on a national level with an
emphasis on issues in South Carolina.
Northeast Director, In Defense of Animals
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