Animal Welfare Group Pushes for Legislative Changes to Strengthen Anti-Cockfighting Laws

Animal welfare organization Animal Wellness Action is pushing for legislation known as the FIGHT Act (Fight Inhumane Gambling and High-Risk Animal Trafficking Act) to strengthen laws to end illegal cockfighting.

This comes after a Bexar County man was arrested on the charge of facilitating cockfighting activities but is currently out on bail.

Cockfighting is illegal in all 50 states and the U.S. territories but Wayne Pacelle, president of AWA, stated that cockfights remain rampant across the country and in Texas.

“Staged animal fights are barbaric,” said Wayne Pacelle, president of Animal Wellness Action. “We’re working to upgrade the laws, we’re working to see that those laws are enforced and all of us have a role.”

The bipartisan bill introduced in 2023 would amend the Animal Welfare Act to “enhance enforcement opportunities under the law and strengthen protections for at-risk animals.”

“This is a federal upgrade of our national fighting law to give citizens a private right of action against dog fighters and cock fighters whose crimes are not being interrupted by law enforcement. It also stops shipping of roosters through the U.S. Postal Service,” Pacelle added.

In the Bexar County incident, the county’s sheriff’s office followed up on an anonymous tip and raided a property in the 26000 block of Sand Cliff Drive. The authorities arrested 56-year-old Paul Morales for allegedly operating an illegal cockfight.

He faces felony charges of gambling and cockfighting. Deputies also cited 50 spectators with Class C demeanor. Around 200 roosters and several guns and drugs were also confiscated by law enforcement.

“It’s not just Bexar County, this weekend in Goliad County, there were 63 people arrested in an illegal cockfighting operation,” Pacelle said. “The animals are placed into a pit to hack each other to death. It is clear though that animal fighting is often bound up with narcotics trafficking, illegal gambling, and other crimes.”

“We’ve got a big problem in Texas,. We need citizens and law enforcement involved in solving this problem,” Pacelle stated, believing that the community at large has a responsibility to help prevent animal cruelty.