About six months ago, Louisiana became the 50th state to ban cockfighting—an historic marker in our fight against malicious animal cruelty. On Saturday, Louisiana State Police raided the Little Bayou Club, a large cockfighting pit in the southwestern part of the state, charging 37 people and seizing more than 600 birds and $60,000—the first major bust in the state under the new law.
When the law was enacted, we made a commitment to state law enforcement leaders to help them vigorously enforce the ban. In the case of the Little Bayou Club, we utilized our intelligence-gathering abilities and expertise to provide the state police with a schedule of cockfights set to take place at the venue. Now the pit owner, and a few other key players, may be charged with felonies.
Some months before this legislation passed in Louisiana, New Mexico banned cockfighting—the culmination of another long-standing battle, where The HSUS teamed up with Animal Protection of New Mexico to make that state the 49th to outlaw the practice. At least 10 raids have occurred in New Mexico since the ban went into effect. One of the first was in December 2007, when local authorities, accompanied by HSUS and APNM staff, raided the Otero Game Club—among the top three cockfighting pits in the state. This month HSUS staff returned to the state, to provide training for nearly 100 law enforcement officers at a state police and sheriff association meeting, and later to advise the principals involved in the formation of the New Mexico Attorney General’s Animal Cruelty Task Force.
Virginia is another state where there is a new no-nonsense attitude toward cockfighting. Previously home to the second weakest anti-cockfighting law in the nation, Virginia now has one of the strongest. Just two months after the new law went into effect in 2008, a large cockfighting farm in Loudoun County was raided, plus another farm nearby. The busts were set into motion when The HSUS Animal Cruelty and Fighting Campaign took information to local authorities, showing that the facility was believed to be breeding roosters for cockfights. Two more raids followed in the state, including one that came about through a tipster who provided information to The HSUS in exchange for our standing cash reward.
At The HSUS we believe in passing strong laws to protect animals. Equally important, we believe in making sure those laws are enforced—and that’s why we are working with law enforcement to raid animal fighting operations from Connecticut to California. Whether through the work of our investigators, gathering intelligence on illegal animal fighting operations; training programs for police officers and districts attorney on investigating and prosecuting animal fighting crimes; or our cash rewards to entice informants to come forward, we are working on running all animal fighters out of the business, and if necessary, into state detention.
A side note: For the third year in a row, Indianapolis Motor Speedway Chairwoman Mari Hulman George has generously donated special VIP packages to three Indy races (the Indianapolis 500, the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard, and the Red Bull Moto GP), providing access not generally available to the public. The packages are being auctioned on eBay and close tomorrow at noon EST. All proceeds support our equine protection efforts, so if you care about horses or are a fan of motorsports, you'll want to take a look.