Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt made a video in support of the annual meeting of the Oklahoma Gamefowl Commission, an organization that has been aiming to reduce penalties for cockfighting in the state.
The support, however, was met with fury by animal rights activists, citing that the Gamefowl Commission is an organization that supports cockfighting, an activity that is illegal in Oklahoma.
Last August, the former district director for the Commission was arrested and charged with a felony after authorities busted an illegal cockfighting operation in the state. The Commission has also donated to several Oklahoman politicians, including Stitt, in an attempt to reduce penalties for those participating in cockfights.
According to a report by an Oklahoman newspaper, the organization had given over 70,000 USD to Oklahoma politicians, with about 2,000 USD going to Stitt.
In the video, Stitt addressed the members of the Commission, saying, “I wish I could be with you for the Gamefowl Commission’s annual legislative meeting, but I wanted to take a moment to cheer you on from the sidelines. Oklahomans like yourselves remained dedicated to the spirit of competition and camaraderie that runs deep in our communities.”
Cameron Harsh, the programs director for the non-profit World Animal Protection stated that Stitt’s support for cockfighting was ‘out of touch,’ saying, “Cockfighting, as with all forms of organized animal fighting, is archaic and barbaric. Governor Stitt’s posturing to curry favor with a fringe group is out of touch with the majority of Americans. The public backlash in response to the governor’s apparent pro-cockfighting stance is further evidence that animal cruelty is unacceptable.”
Michigan State University professor of property and animal law also commented, “I’m a bit shocked that any governor at this point and time in our culture would support cockfighting. It’s a ‘sport’ that kills roosters so people can have fun and make money, and I think as a culture we’ve rejected that.”
Favre also added that while Oklahoma was one of the last states to make cockfighting illegal in the US, the majority of Oklahomans are against the activity.
Former Oklahoma attorney general Drew Edmonson also called out Stitt, saying, “To have the governor of our state embracing it, to me is pathetic and reprehensible.”
Frank Keating, former Oklahoma governor, also called Stitt’s comments an ’embarrassment.’ He said, “Recent polling shows that Oklahomans are nearly unanimous in their opposition to this form of intentional cruelty to animals. It is an embarrassment to me that any elected official seeks to turn back the clock on this morally settled issue.”