Oklahoma State Representative Justin Humphrey made a second maneuver called SB 1522 to reduce the penalties in Oklahoma’s anti-cockfighting law. However, the Oklahoma House of Representatives chose to not act upon the measure. As SB 1522 failed to pass the in the Oklahoma State House by a deadline of April 28, it is no longer viable. Humphrey’s initial measure, HB 3283 which sought to make cockfighting violations the price of a speeding ticket, met the same fate in early May 2022.
Drew Edmonson, former four-term Oklahoma Attorney General stated, “Local law enforcement won’t waste time making arrests of perpetrators of animal cruelty if the law provides for anemic penalties.” Edmonton defended the anti-cockfighting law in state court after voters approved the measure in 2022.
Edmonson also serves as the national co-chair of the National Law Enforcement Council for Animal Wellness Action and the Animal Wellness Foundation. “Cockfighting is a legally and morally settled matter in Oklahoma, and this debate initiated by Rep. Humphrey is not one that Oklahoma should engage in any longer,” he added.
Humphrey, R-Lane proposed SB 1522 to keep legitimate game fowl breeders out of jail and to increase the revenue of rural Oklahoma’s economy. Breeders who supported Humphrey’s efforts stated that raising game fowl and selling the birds overseas provided an estimated USD 4 million in revenue in rural Oklahoma.
During the initial proposal of SB 1522, Cynthia Armstrong, the Oklahoma state director for the Humane Society of the United States said, “It’s all part and parcel of the same criminal enterprise. The FBI investigates animal fighting as a crime against society – there’s a lot of human violence that goes on at these events. They’re really gruesome. There’s narcotics trafficking often associated with this activity… It’s so outside the norm of our Oklahoma values. We have one of the best cockfighting laws in the nation, and it’s just bizarre that he wants to weaken it and bring cockfighting and the breeding of gamecocks back to Oklahoma. That would be going in the wrong direction.”
It is worth noting that since Congress methodically outlawed cockfighting everywhere in the US and made it a felony, no other state legislature has weakened its anti-cockfighting law in decades.
Wayne Pacelle, president of the Center for a Human Economy praised the Oklahoma House of Representatives for its decision to dismiss the decriminalization of cockfighting. “Kudos to Oklahoma lawmakers for recognizing a pro-cockfighting bill as a horrible idea for the state. If this misguided legislation had passed, Oklahoma would become a magnet for cockfighters, conducting animal cruelty, illegal gambling, drug trafficking, money laundering, and attempting to corrupt law enforcement,” he stated.