Tough New Cockfighting Law in Texas
In Texas, it is now illegal for individuals to attend cockfights, possess birds with the intent to fight, and sell and possess the razor sharp weapons that are designed to increase the bloodletting in cockfights. The Humane Society of the United States, on behalf of its more than 500,000 supporters in Texas, celebrates this measure’s passage and thanks Rep. Wayne Christian, R-District 9, and Sen. Eddie Lucio, D-District 27, for championing HB 1043 through the process.
“Closing these loopholes is essential in cracking down on the entire cast of characters involved in cockfighting,” said Nicole Paquette, Texas senior state director for The HSUS. “The spectators fuel this illegal activity and implementation of this new law will send a strong message that cockfighting will not be tolerated in the Lone Star state.”
Cockfighting is a cruel activity involving the deliberate pitting of animals against each other to fight to the death for the sole purpose of gambling and the entertainment of spectators. Roosters used for fighting are often drugged to heighten their aggression and forced to keep them fighting even after they’ve suffered severe injuries such as deep gashes, punctured lungs, and pierced eyes. Young children are often brought to these events and exposed to the gruesome spectacle as acceptable entertainment.
The HSUS conducted two investigations into cockfighting in Texas which showed that this crime is widespread throughout the state. In 2010, undercover investigators attended cockfights at nearly 20 pits throughout Texas and documented about 100 locations where cockfights are regularly held. Investigators used hidden cameras to document repeated acts of animal cruelty as well as the presence of young children, widespread illegal gambling, and prostitution. The HSUS investigative team also went undercover in April, 2011 with ESPN E: 60 into a cockfighting ring in Gunter, Texas which highlighted the need for stronger laws to ensure that all participants in the illegal activity are charged with a crime.
Enactment of HB 1043 provides law enforcement with the tools to crackdown on this illegal activity and aligns Texas’s laws with neighboring states and most of the country. The HSUS stands ready to assist law enforcement in their efforts.
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- Cockfighting is outlawed in all 50 states and is punished as a felony in 39.
- With passage of House Bill 1043, 38 states and the District of Columbia prohibit the possession of birds for fighting; 43 states and the District of Columbia prohibit being a spectator at cockfights; and 15 states prohibit the possession of cockfighting implements.
- Spectators pay hundreds or thousands of dollars in admission fees and gambling bets, generating the bulk of the revenue for this illegal enterprise. The fights would not occur without the crowd betting on the outcome and enjoying the bloodletting. Spectators provide cover for animal fighters, who weave into crowds to evade prosecution at the first sign of a police raid.
- House Bill 1043 makes the following activities a crime:
- participating in the earnings of a cockfight (a state jail felony);
- using or permitting another to use property for cockfighting (a class A misdemeanor);
- manufacturing, buying, selling, possessing cockfighting equipment (a class A misdemeanor);
- owning, possessing or training a cock with the intent that it be used for cockfighting (class A misdemeanor); or
- attending as a spectator an exhibition of cockfighting (class C misdemeanor for first offense and class A misdemeanor for future offenses)
- The United States Congress is considering H.R. 2492 which would amend the federal animal fighting law to include spectators. This would allow for cases prosecuted in federal court to include the entire cast of characters that participate in animal fighting ventures.