In a press conference, Animal Wellness Action and Showing Animals Respect and Kindness (SHARK), identified 16 illegal cockfighting pits in Kentucky. The two animal rights organizations stated that Kentucky remains in the middle of the national and global cockfighting industries.
According to the report made by the two organizations, the illegal fighting pits are mostly located near the Tennessee/Virginia border and the West Virginia border. However, the identified pits are only a portion of what is estimated to be 100 cockfighting rings located in the state, said a representative from SHARK.
“Ohio has a felony up North and West Virginia has a stronger law now as well,” Wayne Pacelle, president of Animal Wellness Action, said. “So you’re seeing that people are coming into Kentucky because it’s viewed as number one; a state without as severe set of penalties as these neighboring jurisdictions.”
The organizations also called out the police force in the Commonwealth. Steve Hindi, president of SHARK, said that most of the local law enforcement is failing to crack down on the illegal pits due to the big business it brings in Kentucky. “They absolutely will not do anything,” added Hindi.
When Hindi captures cockfights on camera with the use of his drones, he reports it to the local and state police. Hindi says they usually do not show up or if they do, they do not take action. “You cannot persuade me that these criminals and the police are not operating hand-in-hand,” Hindi said.
They added that cockfighting also threatens to spread the bird flu outbreak across the nation. “Kentucky has a lot to lose from cockfighters bringing in avian influenza right now into those commercial operations,” Dr. Jim Keen, D.V.M., Director of Veterinary Sciences, Center for a Humane Economy said, adding that avian flu has already jumped to humans, as well.