News & Culture

Ohio humane officers rescue 16 roosters in cockfighting bust

A bantam rooster. PHOTO BY DIREK DONMON.

ELYRIA, Ohio — Humane investigators in Lorain County, Ohio, rescued 16 roosters Friday, Aug. 18, as part of a cockfighting bust.

According to Animal Wellness Action and the Center for a Humane Economy, the birds and other animal-fighting paraphernalia were recovered.

“Ohio has felony-level penalties for cockfighting, and it’s amazing that people continue to risk their freedom to stage fights between animals,” said Wayne Pacelle, president of Animal Wellness Action. “Cockfighting is a form of malicious cruelty, and we must mete out strong penalties for perpetrators to root out this behavior in Ohio.”

Pacelle said cockfighters often attach knives or curved ice picks called gaffs to the combatants’ legs to enhance the bloodletting and accelerate the outcome.

Both the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate have issued the Fighting Inhumane Gambling and High-Risk Trafficking (FIGHT) Act, and the authors hope to include the provision as an amendment to the farm bill.

Both pieces of legislation were driven by concerns for what has been called barbarism of animal fighting, other criminal behavior comingled with it, and disease threats to poultry posed by transporting fighting roosters.

The FIGHT Act, amending Section 26 of the Animal Welfare Act, would enhance the enforcement opportunities by banning simulcasting and gambling of animal fighting ventures; halting the shipment of mature roosters (chickens only) shipped through the U.S. mail (it is already illegal to ship dogs through the mail); creating a citizen suit provision, after proper notice to federal authorities, to allow private right of action against illegal animal fighters; and enhancing forfeiture provisions to include real property for animal fighting crimes.