In the last 10 years or so, we have amped up our campaign against the cockfighting industry, and the underlying conduct has gone from quasi-legal in some jurisdictions to an out-and-out crime just about everywhere in the nation today.
Earlier this week, the U.S. Postal Service announced that it plans to amend its mailing standards to prohibit the shipment of publications that contain advertisements for fighting animals or the knives and gaffs affixed to the birds’ legs during the fights, consistent with the latest amendments to the federal Animal Welfare Act. One such publication, The Feathered Warrior based in De Queen, Ark., recently announced that it has ceased operations after a century in publication.
Both the Postal Service’s announcement and the demise of The Feathered Warrior come on the heels of a federal court ruling ordering the Postal Service to reexamine its policies concerning the shipment of animal fighting materials. That ruling was issued in response to a lawsuit The HSUS filed in 2007 against the Postal Service, in which we argued that the agency’s continued acceptance of certain cockfighting magazines for shipment via USPS violated the Animal Welfare Act.
The final, farewell issue of The Feathered Warrior rolled off the presses in July. The magazine's publisher Verna Dowd explained, "We have been under attack many times throughout the years, but nothing to compare with this day and time.”
The Feathered Warrior has faced gathering storm clouds in recent years, seeded by the efforts of The HSUS. Dependent financially on advertisements for fighting birds and knives that filled its pages, the magazine was hard hit by Congress’s 2007 and 2008 amendments to the animal fighting provisions of the Animal Welfare Act, which banned the advertising, sale, and shipment of such items. The HSUS was primary advocate of both sets of amendments.
In addition, The Feathered Warrior, along with another cockfighting magazine, The Gamecock, and online retailer Amazon.com, was also a defendant in a separate federal lawsuit filed by The HSUS seeking to halt the sale of subscriptions to these animal fighting magazines in violation of the Animal Welfare Act.
Unlike The Feathered Warrior, The Gamecock is still operating, but it was forced to dramatically change its format to eliminate advertisements for fighting animals, knives, and other federal contraband in order to settle that case with The HSUS. The suit is still pending against Amazon.com, but neither The Gamecock nor The Feathered Warrior have offered subscriptions on Amazon’s website for several months. Amazingly, when The HSUS filed that case two years ago, The Gamecock and The Feathered Warrior were some of the top sellers on Amazon.com.
It is high time the Postal Service decided to follow the clear terms of federal law and crack down on the widespread trafficking in animal fighting paraphernalia throughout the United States. The advertisement and shipping of fighting birds, magazines, knives, and other contraband are the glue that holds the animal fighting industry together, and The HSUS has been urging the Postal Service for years to stop enabling this organized criminal industry. If you'd like, you can commend the USPS by sending comments by mail.
According to the Associated Press, The Feather Warrior's Verna Dowd "blames the Humane Society—which has been pushing for the Postal Service to change its rules—for pressuring her out of business." Lamented Dowd, "They've passed so many laws, people can't even raise or sell their chickens."
We couldn’t be more pleased to take the blame.