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SC legislature attempting to strengthen animal cruelty laws

Cockfighting is a blood sport where two roosters are made to fight (and are often pumped up on various drugs to make them more aggressive).  Because of the money made through illegal gambling, this sport continues despite the fact that it is illegal.
Cockfighting is a blood sport where two roosters are made to fight (and are often pumped up on various drugs to make them more aggressive). Because of the money made through illegal gambling, this sport continues despite the fact that it is illegal.
Photo by Putu Sayoga/Getty Images

The Carolinas may be beautiful states to visit, but they have real problems with animal abuse and cruelty. Multiple articles and news investigations have reported the sad state of puppy mills, animal shelters, and even illegal animal blood sports like bear baiting and cockfighting. These very issues were the topic of conversation at a meeting a week ago that included the South Carolina Chapter of the U.S. Humane Society, and SC state delegates, Sen. Larry Martin and Rep. David Hiott. (Pickens Sentinel)

Animal rights activists made their cases for increasing fines and tougher penalties, but it seems on one particular topic, there may still be a lot of resistance; cockfighting.

Cockfighting is illegal in all 50 states with Louisiana banning it last in 2007. Thirty-three states have made this activity a felony. According to Wikipedia, "On February 7, 2014 President Obama signed the Farm Bill which contained the U.S. H.R. 366/S. 666—Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act. "The final bill includes a provision making it a federal crime to attend or bring a child under the age of 16 to an animal fighting event[.]" [57] "The Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act would make it a federal offense to knowingly attend an organized animal fight and would impose additional penalties for bringing children to animal fights. Violators would face up to one year in prison for attending a fight, and up to three years in prison for bringing a minor to a fight." Even with this act signed into law on the federal level, states like South Carolina lag behind in enforcing the ban.

Hiott admits that SC basically waits for something to happen in this realm and then just reacts to it rather than getting out in front of these issues in an progressive manner. He shares with the Pickens Sentinel that when cockfighting becomes a topic, he gets bombarded with emails from people asking him not to make it a felony.

Why? Because there is big money in this activity. Those who participate can make up to $50,000 with a win.

Hiott goes on to hem and haw about the issue watering it down to people who just raise birds in their backyard who have made money from it. One wonders what part of "blood sport" does he and the other legislators not get?

These animals aren't like boxers or cage fighters who know what they're getting into and can consent to participate. Humans may willingly enter into a physical contest where they know they might get hurt, but they do it knowingly and they are the ones who benefit financially. They also get to go about their way afterwards. Not so with roosters. Roosters can't consent. They don't profit from it. And they are caged after.

Animals don't fight unless their lives depend upon it. Even then, if they can get away unharmed, they will.

So why are these lawmakers pandering to men who put animals in harm's way for profit and entertainment? We don't have any dog-kicking sports. We don't toss cats into the river to see how fast they can swim for profit. We don't do these things because they are cruel and unusual. Cockfighting is cruel and unusual and must be made a felony offense.

South Carolina's current law has a maximum fine of $1,000 that ends up less than that once the charges have been assessed. Felony Cockfighting (S. 529/H. 3049) would increase the penalties and possibly make this activity a felony.

If you support this legislation, then contact your state representatives and tell them you want to see this activity changed to a felony offense.