The practice of cockfighting is illegal in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The last state that enacted the ban on cockfighting was Louisiana, effective in 2008.
Moreover, under the Agricultural Act of 2014, it is a federal crime to spectate an animal fighting event or bring a child under the age of 16. The ban was further extended by federal law to American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Another federal instrument is the Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act, a law providing that it is a federal crime to transfer cockfighting implements across state or national borders. It also increases penalties for the violation of federal animal fighting laws to three years in prison.
In Kansas, in the issue of whether cockfighting falls within the prohibition of Section 21-4310 as constituting cruelty to animals, the court held that “in the common everyday experience of mankind chickens are seldom thought of as animals; rather, they are birds, with avian characteristics, in contrast to beasts of the field.” It also concluded that Kansas statutes proscribing cruelty to animals “have traditionally been directed toward the protection of the four-legged animal, especially beasts of the field and beasts of burden.”
The statute provided “(1) Cruelty to animals is:
Subjecting any animal to cruel mistreatment; or
Having custody of any animal and subjecting such animal to cruel neglect.”
The court did not find the statute vague, indefinite, or uncertain within the meaning of the due process. (See State ex rel. Miller v. Claiborne)
Another case in Oregon was being decided on whether the statute was vague in the part of animal fights and whether it is overbroad in violation of the First Amendment and Article I, section 26, of the Oregon Constitution. The Court of Appeals held that “the statute does not specify a required mental state for this crime. Accordingly, pursuant to ORS 161.115(2), the state must prove that a defendant acted intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, or with criminal negligence.” Moreover, in State v. Blocker, the court held that “An ‘overbroad’ law, as that term has been developed by the United States Supreme Court, is not vague, or need not be. Its vice is not a failure to communicate. Its vice may be clarity. For the law is overbroad to the extent that it announces a prohibition that reaches conduct that may not be prohibited. A legislature can make law as ‘broad’ and inclusive as it chooses unless it reaches into the constitutionally protected ground. The clearer an ‘overbroad’ statute is, the harder it is to confine it by interpretation within its constitutionally permissible reach.” (See State v. Albee)
Cockfighting inflicts harm and injury to birds and they are usually kept in detrimental conditions during breeding and training. Despite being a cruel practice for animals, it is also associated with other illegal activities. While cockfighting still occurs in many countries across and the globe and is not regulated by law, it is crucial to stop this blood sport.
How can you help stop cockfighting?
If you live in a country or a state where cockfighting is still a misdemeanor, write a letter to your legislator to make it a felony.
If you suspect that cockfighting is occurring in or near your neighborhood, contact the law enforcement police and report.
Spread the information about the detrimental effect of cockfighting.